Samarkand is one of the most ancient cities of the world and is a famous city of modern Uzbekistan. Founded about 700 years BC, formerly the city was known as Afrasiab and Marakanda. It was the capital of Sogdiana in the territory of ancient Turan. In 329 BC it was conquered by Alexander the Great and became the key trading centre on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean.
In the 6-13th centuries the city was one of the major political and cultural centres of Central Asian states. In different periods it defended itself from conquest of Persians, Greeks (Selevkids) and Arabs. During the 6-13th centuries Samarkand was included in the Turkic Kaganate as the capital of Sogd. After the conquest of the city by the Arab Caliphate in the beginning of the 8th century, Samarkand became an important centre of Muslim culture.
However, in 1220 the city was plundered and almost entirely destroyed by the Mongols. During the reign of Timur and the Timurids (1370-1499) Samarkand was the capital of the empire and enjoyed peace and prosperity. Timur put Samarkand on the world map. The majority of architectural monuments which are well-known today were built by Timur and his descendants. Within less than 100 year, Samarkand turned into an incredibly beautiful city with breath-taking turquoise domes and magnificent minarets.
In 1925-1929 Samarkand was the capital of the Uzbek SSR. But even after the capital was moved to Tashkent, Samarkand continued playing an important role in the cultural and economic life of the region. After Uzbekistan declared its independence in 1991, Samarkand became an important industrial, cultural and tourist centre of the country. Today any visitor of Samarkand can enjoy the beauty of its unique architectural masterpieces, which are as splendid and well-known as the greatest monuments of India, Egypt, Greece and ancient Rome. \
In 2001 Samarkand was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The 2,750th anniversary of the city, contemporary of Rome, was celebrated on an international scale under the aegis of UNESCO in 2007.