I am just about recovering from the jetlag of my holiday on on Silk Road! Here's a pic of me sweltering in the Registan Square in Samarkand, which gives you an instant flavour of what Uzbekistan feels like for the tourist - it's all about Islamic era historical monuments; it's big, bright, clean and orderly.
Modern Uzbekistan is the descendant of a vast Islamic empire created by this guy, Timur:
|Kill total: probably about 17 million|
and then put through the modernising grindstone of the Soviet Union:
|Kill total: dunno, but high. But also universal literacy, hospitals, roads, and "Praise be to God, opening the faces of the women". Our guide was pretty positive about the results of the Soviet era.|
Many of the monuments we saw were in fact restored by the Russians from ruins:
It has in recent years suddenly started to embrace private enterprise and is in the midst of vast social change yet again.
It's Muslim but secular, not fundamentalist - our local guide says most don't even observe Ramadan.
|Lots of pre-Islamic motifs even in religious buildings - this is the Simurgh, the Zoroastrian "bird of compassion" - which I wrote about in Heart of Flame!|
I'm struggling not to give you twenty pics of architecture, because OMG words cannot do justice to the beauty:
|The necropolis in Samarkand|
|Bukhara - my HoF heroes went there!|
|The four towers of this mosque represent the founder's four daughters :-)|
I really liked Uzbekistan - I'd definitely go back.
If only for the string cheese: