Did you know about Samarkand city? It was once the capital of a huge empire and a center of
education in Islamic World. Located in the Republic of Uzbekistan, Samarkand is known as the
pearl of Asia, the heart of the Silk Road and the capital of the Timurid Empire. Today, it is still
considered as one of the most important cities in Central Asia and attracts foreign visitors every
Looking back to history, Samarkand is one of the first cities in Central Asia. It was known as
Afrasiab in ancient times. The city was controlled by Arabs, Persians, Samanids, Karakhan and
Seljuk Turks over the years. Many famous historians, travelers and even kings were fascinated
when they visited Samarkand. For instance, Alexander the Great reportedly exclaimed:
“Everything I have heard about the beauty of Samarkand is true except it is even more beautiful;
than I could have imagined.”
There were some relations between the people of Samarkand with Eastern nations. First relations
with Chinese date back to Han dynasty. According to ancient Chinese manuscripts, they were
quite impressed to see beautiful gardens of Samarkand and people of Samarkand were described
as “talented merchants” in those sources. However, in 1220, Gengiskhan attacked Samarkand
and most parts of the city were destroyed. Famous Arab scientist and explorer Ibn Battuta visited
Samarkand and Bukhara after Mongol invasion in the region and according to his notes, there
were a lot of ruins in Samarkand. However, Ibn Battuta was also fascinated to see the beauty of
Samarkand and called Samarkand: "one of the greatest and finest of cities, and most perfect of
them in beauty”.
14 th -15 th centuries are called as the Golden Age of Samarkand. During this period, great
politician, commander Amir Timur (known as Tamerlane in the West, 1336-1405) founded the
Timurid Empire. Samarkand was the capital of the vast empire that embraced the territory of 27
modern-day countries. Timur decided to outshine all of capitals in the world with the grandeur
and beauty of Samarkand. Respected in Central Asia and the East as a great statesman who made
invaluable contribution to world civilization, Amir Timur brought the most talented architects
from the countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria, India to Samarkand. Huge and fascinating mosques and
madrasahs were built during the Amir Timur era. The process was continued by his descendants.
Bibi-Khanym mosque, which was once the biggest mosque in Asia, Ulugbeg observatory,
Ulugbeg madrasah and Guri Emir are the most famous constructions in Samarkand that were
built during the Timurid era. After Timurids, Shaibans took the throne, they also contributed a
lot to the development of this beautiful city.
Today, Samarkand is the 2 nd largest city in Uzbekistan and the city is mainly divided into two
sections: historical and modern. Historical part of the city includes Afrasiab hills and Timurid
constructions, the modern part includes Soviet buildings and various constructions that were
built in the last decade.
However, the city is getting bigger. For instance, in September 2022, a new international
touristic center in Samarkand opened. Furthermore, the city hosted two huge international
summits in the last 3 months: 2022 SCO (The Shanghai Cooperation Organization) in September
and the Summit of the OTC (The Organization of Turkic Countries) in November.
In conclusion, it is important to say that there are hundreds of poems and books written by
Persian and other Asian writers about Samarkand. The city has seen so much history, so many
kingdoms, empires and campaigns. Today, it is still politically and economically one of the most
essential cities in the region.