The city of Samarkand has been a crossroads of world cultures for over two and a half centuries, and one of the most important
sites is the Silk Routes that pass through Central Asia. UNESCO World Heritage List included Samarkand in the year 2001 as
“Samarkand-Crossroad of Cultures”. Samarkand is situated in the Silk Road between China and the West, in the valley of the
Zarafshan River in north-eastern Uzbekistan and it is gifted with the benefits of plentiful natural resources and settlements
dating back to 1,500 BC. This ancient city is a must see for all travellers visiting Central Asia.
The name ‘Samarkand’ is derived from the combination of the Old Persian word 'asmara' which is the pronunciation for stone or rock,
and the Sogdian word 'qand' refers to a fort or a town. This is correlated with the city of Samarkand being a "stone fort". In the
14th century, Temur (Tamerlan), who is the founder of the Timurid Empire, made Samarkand the capital of his kingdom and his tomb
currently resides in the Gur-e Amir Mausoleum which is known as one of the many tourist attractions in the city.
Temur or Timur, formed Samarkand at the heart of Arts and Islamic learning and it continued to grow in the years following. However,
its glory days were numbered when 1,500 Uzbek nomad warriors took over and moved the capital to Bukhara. Samarkand declined and so
did its mausoleums, mosques and madrassahs. It was only then restored to its former glory when the Soviets linked Samarkand to the
Trans-Caspian railroad and restored most of the Timurid monuments.
Together with Bukhara, Samarkand continues to be one of the oldest settlement cities in Central Asia till this day. Archaeologists
believe that people have already lived here during the Paleolithic period. Many great figures have ruled the city such as Alexander
the Great, Genghis Khan, and many Persians and Turks.