Samarkand - Crossroads of Cultures
Samarqand Travel Blog› entry 6 of 6 › view all entries
Leaving behind Bukhara, I headed for my next destination: Samarkand. Samarkand is one of the most ancient cities in this part of the world, and its name is synonymous with the treasures traded along the ancient Silk Road. It is also known throughout the world as having been the capital of the Timurid empire. Amir Timur loved Samarkand so much that he adorned the city with numerous grandiose monuments, some of which fortunately remain (or have been restored) to date. Many of these monuments are characterised by their sky-blue tiles, so symbolically known as "the Samarkand Blue." It is hard to believe that, at the zenith of its glory, this little city attracted slaves, traders, craftsmen, ambassadors, scientists and dervishes from all over the world.
By far, the most important attraction in Samarkand is the Registan Square. It is the most magnificent ensemble of Timurid architecture in the city. But be ware, especially individual travellers. The police officers at the Registan Square are friendly, but they are corrupt. If you lose your admission ticket or forgot to pay your admission fee, you could be wrongfully charged. They also entice you to climb up the minaret, which is NOT free. If you must bribe them, bargain HARD! After all, this is Uzbekistan, and everything should be bargained. Life is like one big bazaar in Uzbekistan. As for myself, I forgot to pay my admission fee for the Registan Square, so I was wrongfully charged by the police, but I bargained hard.
Food is the pride of Samarkandi, and it should be noted that everything from Samsa to Plof was surprisingly good in Samarkand. Naan from Samarkand is particularly famed for its taste and shelf life. It is said that naan from Samarkand can last for well over 2 years, some even 10 years. Even if the naan went dry, it could be "restored" by adding a little bit of water and baking it again in an oven. Naan in Uzbekistan is something entirely different from naan in India. Naan in Uzbekistan has more in common with European bread, I think. I was told that some tourists bought naan as souvenirs from Uzbekistan.