Location: Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Welcome back to my two-part series on all the sites you should add to your to-do list when heading to Bukhara in Uzbekistan. If you haven’t checked out Part I yet, start by clicking here. When I ended my last post, I was wandering around the covered bazaars in the town centre and I deliberately stopped there as I wanted to keep my favourite sites for last. So if you enjoyed Part I, I hope you are even more impressed with Bukhara after you see the other gorgeous images below that we managed to capture during the three days that we were there.
The most recognisable place in Bukhara is Po-i-Kalyan – an Islamic religious complex where the Kalyan Minaret sits right in the middle. What’s amazing is that this image was taken in the middle of the day just in front of the Kalyan Minaret (behind me) and the Mir-i-Arab madrassah. It’s a main tourist attraction in the city but look at how many people there were around me! It’s a great example of how the country overall is just such an undiscovered region.
Starting with the main attraction – The Kalyan Minaret. It’s also morbidly known as the Tower of Death as rumour has it that prisoners were executed by being thrown off the top. We heard some tourists speaking about this at a local restaurant and asked our guide, who quickly said that this was untrue. Who knows what secrets that tower holds? Either way it’s got a beautifully intricate design and is a stunning piece of architecture.
In the square there are (and were) a handful of mosques. I say were as some of these were burnt down by Genghis Khan in the siege of Bukhara. Fortunately though, the Kalyan mosque still stands in all its glory and is home to these spectacular white corridors with their alluring arches. Within the mosque, you will continue to see those beautiful mosaic patterns on the walls. Can you read what they spell out? If you can let me know in the comments! Whilst you think about it, here are some more images of the internal courtyard of the mosque.
Whilst in Po-i-Kalyan, you can’t miss the Mir-I-Arab madrassa that’s in the images below. It is quite a sight to see from the outside with its blue domes and imposing arches. It’s just as well, as tourists are only allowed entry into the foyer of the building. The entrance to Mir-I-Arab is just opposite the Kalyan mosque I mention above.
Within minutes of Po-i-Kalyan is an exquisite-looking madrassah called Ulugbeg (not to be confused with the madrassah of the same name in Samarkand). But all this talk of madrassah and I still haven’t explained what it actually means! Quite simply it refers to a place where studying or learning takes place, usually around the Islamic religion. Interestingly, Ulugbeg is the oldest madrassah in all of Central Asia and is naturally a must-see. Just look at that spectacular blue mosaic on the wall!
From Po-i-Kalyan and all the sites within it, we were led to a mosque in one of the side streets within the inner city of Bukhara. It was one of those places where you just cannot explain the beauty of what you are seeing. I’m talking about the Hoja Zayniddin Mosque. I did not see this is any of the Bukhara guide books, but I am so glad that our tour guide told us it’s a must-see. Whilst it’s not well-known, the interior of this 16th century mosque houses the grandest dome in Bukhara. Take a look!
And last but not least, our tour ended with a trip to the Fayzulla Khujayev House. Again, not one that I saw on many online recommendations but definitely a must-see, for it was home to the son of a wealthy merchant who became a politician and leader of the Bukharan People’s Soviet Republic. Sadly, he did not have a happy ending and was executed under Stalin. If you haven’t used a guide for the rest of your time in Bukhara, I really recommend using one here. The house will not mean much without someone explaining the history behind it. It’s also a little bit hard to locate, although it is within walking distance of the inner city. Have a look at how the wealthy would live back in the early 1900s!
And that’s a wrap on Bukhara! I’d really love to hear your thoughts on it and whether it’s made you want to visit in the coming months!