Bukhara – Central Asia’s holiest city

We got up at a leisurely time and after breakfasting in what looked like the boiler room (which was hot inside) we headed out to see the sights properly. We first went back to Kalon Minaret and after poking our noses into the medressa we paid to go into the mosque. With a large courtyard and deep sides with large arched ceiling it is big enough to hold 10,000 people. We had it almost to ourselves – tour groups had clearly had a more leisurely start to the day than us.

IMG_0268Next we walked over to the Ark a royal town which is Bukhara oldest structure and has been occupied since the 5th century. We checked out the mosque, courtyard and each of the small museums but didn’t think it was worth the hefty entrance fee. We could see another interesting structure which was a short distance away so went to check it out. It turned out to be Bolo- Hauz mosque. The emirs official place of worship built in 1718. Its outside wooden ceiling was intrinsically decorated like those in Khiva. The only other place we’ve seen similar decoration is in Bhutan.

Next stop was the bazaar as we’d realised we were not too far away. It’s quite a large one and we were the only tourists we saw (most tourists seem to be in tour groups so once you leave the main tourist area you lose them).

IMG_0312In the fruit and veggie area we bought some fruit from the nicest looking stall. It even had some slightly pathetic looking kiwi fruit. The seller (a woman with heavily drawn eyebrows and the glow of golden teeth- both very fashionable here) kindly gave us some free extra fruit too.

On the way back we found a park and a mausoleum. It was a bit of a hike back to the old town so when we got there we checked out a couple of medressas before finding somewhere for a tea stop. Emma got some tandir somsa for lunch and smugly ate it whilst burning her fingers on it.

We decided to next head off in the opposite direction so dropped our fruit off at our digs on the way past. We got directions from the owner to an agent where we could buy train tickets as he said that was the best way to get to Samarkand. Luckily it was the same direction we were heading just further than we were intending to go. It took a bit of finding but once we found it and queued Emma managed to transact the purchase entirely in Uzbek. We’d ship out the next afternoon.

IMG_0357On the way back we went off down some backstreets to find the sight we were originally heading for- Char Minar. It’s a gate house to a long gone medressa. It is an iconic Uzbekistan sight (so much so it is on the front of the Central Asia Lonely Planet guidebook).

When we got back to the square in the old town (we were staying down a side street off it) we decided it was time for more tea. We enjoyed the sun as we drank it.

We walked back to a couple of sights we had been to that morning to take a couple more photos in the afternoon light before heading in the only direction we hadn’t yet explored.

Down the backstreets we eventually left the old town and emerged into an open, obviously soviet built, end of Bukhara. Sheep grazed on the grass between building andIMG_0374 we followed the road round and eventually found the Jewish cemetery which we had roughly been aiming for – we were surprised we had actually found it without a map. It was closed so we climbed a big pile of gravel and peered over the wall. We headed back to the old town a different way and were surprised when the backstreets spat us out much further down the road than where we departed we must have walked in a very big ‘V’ shape.

With the sun now set and the air getting cooler we scoped out a few restaurants. Bukhara isn’t known for its food so they are all much the same. We settled on a quiet one tucked a bit out of the way where we could take our time. The food was a slight improvement on the night before.

Observations

  • Buildings aren’t straight and true- they’re all leaning/bulging/wonk
  • Everywhere in Uzbekistan is flat so it is easy to walk everywhere
  • Uzbeks obviously don’t like being cold- our rooms have been so well heated we keep having to try turn the heaters off and open the window. The underfloor heating
    in the bathroom at the current place is hot to stand on and heats the whole room. A dislike of the cold must be why Uzbeks rug up when it not cold at all.

Click on any image to enlarge and scroll through


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