Think India and you think Taj Mahal, with Cambodia its Angkor Wat, Peru conjures images of Machu Picchu. In Uzbekistan, the chances are that thoughts will turn to Samarkand and the Registan in particular. And with very good reason.
Meaning sandy place in Persian, the Registon was the ceremonial centre point of the Timurid dynasty from the 15th Century.
The square acted as the main focal point where people gathered to hear royal proclamations, heralded by blasts on enormous copper pipes called dzharchis . It was also a place of public executions.
Then as it is today, the square is framed by three huge madrasahs of stunning Islamic architecture.
We were to spend eight hours there, aside from a break for lunch and a chance to visit the nearby statue of Timur the Great.
We would have stayed longer too, except that there is now a need to purchase a second ticket to visit after dark. As we had already wandered much of the sight under lights, we decided that we had more than had our money’s worth (a bargain $8 in fact).
We had managed to avoid a peek at the magnificent site for two whole days, so approached with a great deal of anticipation. We visited on a lovely September day and were delighted that the crowds were threadbare.
Indeed, after lunch they were virtually non-existent as all the tour groups departed for other sites.
The three imposing madrasahs are Ulugh Beg Madrasah (1417–1420), Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619–1636) and Tilya-Kori Madrasah (1646–1660).
Not only are the exteriors amazing, but the interiors are something to behold too. Words are unnecessary, I will just let the pictures do the talking……
As you would expect for such a glorious location, it is a catalyst for wedding parties too.
Finally, I mentioned the statue of Timur. Here it is.
We booked all of our accommodation and transport through the wonderful Anur Tours of Tashkent.
As well as Uzbekistan they sorted everything we needed for Turkmenistan, including the rather tricky visa.
Every car was waiting for us at the designated place and time, every hotel was excellent and every driver/guide a credit to their country.
Anur also booked all of our trains, including the speedy Afrosiyob from Bukhara to Samarkand and the overnight train from there to Khiva.
Don’t be put off by having to pay 50% up front to Anur via foreign transfer and then the balance when you arrive.
I know we are all told to be cautious in matters such as these, but Anur were true to every detail that they promised, even though I must have given them a headache with my demands!
A special call out to Elina who has the patience of a saint and I was delighted to meet when we got to Tashkent.
If you ever fancy going to Uzbekistan (and let’s face it everybody should), or any of the other Stans for that matter, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Anur Tours. As well as being very efficient and communicative, they are also great value for money.
You can find their very informative website here
My Wilbur’s Travels Books
Uzbekistan will feature alongside all of the other former Soviets (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania & Estonia) in a future book in the Wilbur’s Travels train journeys series.
Part One detailing my travels by train across all the Balkan countries is available now from Amazon.