Uzbekistan: The Golden Road to Samarkand

Resort:Uzbekistan: The Golden Road to Samarkand
Operator: Cox and Kings
Destination: Uzbekistan
Price From: £3395.00


Visit the most magnificent cities of the ancient Silk Road with Islamic expert Diana Driscoll or William Taylor. These include Uzbekistans second largest city, Samarkand, built by the infamous 14th-century Emperor Tamerlane; the medieval city of Bukhara, with its dazzling blue mosaic domes; the jadegreen city of Khiva; and Nukus, which once protected the Russian avant-garde art collection of archaeologist and artist, Igor Savitsky from the Soviets.


Day 1: Fly to Tashkent

Board the overnight flight from London (regional connections available) to Tashkent with Uzbekistan Airways. (N)

Day 2: Tashkent Fly to Nukus

Arrive in Tashkent and transfer to the Miran International Hotel (or similar) for a rest. After an introductory lecture and welcome lunch, take a city tour to see the highlights of Tashkent, including Kukeldash mosque, Muyie Mubarak library and Tillya Sheikh mosque. In the afternoon, fly to Nukus and overnight at Hotel Jipek Joli (or similar). (B, L)

Day 3: Chilpak Khiva

Morning tour of the Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art, which houses the collection of Igor Savitsky, who secreted away thousands of Russian avant-garde and post avant-garde paintings during the Stalinist Soviet period. Besides this rare and extensive collection of art (second only to St Petersburg), he also collected thousands of Uzbek artefacts, textiles and jewellery. Tour the museum with a local specialist. En route to Khiva, stop at Chilpak to see the fourth-century Zoroastrian Tower of Silence. Stay for 2 nights at Orient Star Khiva (or similar). (B, D)

Day 4: Khiva

Full-day tour of the old walled city of Khiva, capital of Khorezm between the 16th and 20th centuries, and one of the most remote of the Silk Road cities. Visits include the Kunya Ark (old fortress), the original residence of the Khiva khans; the beautifully decorated Tash Hauli (stone palace); the Friday Mosque; and madrasas (theological colleges), which now house museum collections. Also visit a Unesco silk carpet workshop. (B)

Day 5: Drive to Bukhara

Full-day drive to Bukhara (7-8 hours), through the Kyzylkum desert stopping at the Amu Darya river, known as the Oxus river in the ancient world. Stay at Emir Hotel (or similar) for 4 nights. (B, L)

Day 6: Bukhara

Take a full-day walking tour of Bukhara, visiting the Persian Samanid brick mausoleum, the Chashmai Ayub, known as Jobs Well, and the Bolo Hauz mosque. Visit the trade domes, madrasas and traditional Bukharan bazaars. Continue to the Poi-Kalyan complex, which includes the towering Kalyan minaret and the twin-domed Miri-Arab madrasa. (B)

Day 7: Bukhara

Visit the architectural ensemble around the Lyab i-Hauz pool, fed by the waters of the royal canal. Continue to the Chor Minor, a curious four-towered gatehouse, and the Sitora-i Mokhi-Khosa, the summer palace of the last emir of Bukhara. Then visit the Fayzulla Khodjaev Museum, set in the house of a wealthy Bukhara merchant showing aspects of life in the early 20th century. Continue to the Balyand neighbourhood mosque, a jewel of 16th-century architecture, and the imposing ark fortress of the Bukhara emirs. Walk down the narrow streets of historic Bukhara to the old Jewish quarter. See one of the citys hidden gems, the Jewish synagogue, which houses a collection of ancient torahs dating back approximately 600 years. (B)

Day 8: Rabat i-Malik Gijduvan Vabkent

Drive along the royal road to the 11th-century Rabat i-Malik caravanserai (a trading route stop-off). Continue to Gijduvan, renowned for its traditional ceramics, and see Abd-al-Khalyk Gijduvani mazar. Return to Bukhara via Vabkent to see the minaret commissioned in the 12th century by one of the rulers of Bukhara. (B, L)

Day 9: Shahrisabz Samarkand

Drive to Shahrisabz, birthplace of Tamerlane, where he built an enormous palace, of which part of the beautifully ornamented audience chamber remains. Drive alongside the Zerafshan mountains to Samarkand for a 2-night stay at the Dilimah Premium or Malika Diyora (or similar). (B)

Day 10: Afrosiyob Samarkand

Drive to the ancient deserted site of Afrosiyob on the outskirts of Samarkand, where a settlement once thrived until it was destroyed by Tamerlane. Archaeological finds are housed in the Afrosiyob History Museum. Continue to the observatory of Ulugbek, Tamerlanes astronomer grandson, and see the Bibi Khanum mosque, built by Tamerlane for his favourite wife. End the day at the magnificent Gur Emir mausoleum, where Tamerlane is buried beneath the Timurid fluted blue domes. (B)

Day 11: Samarkand Tashkent

Visit Registan Square, framed by three brilliantly ornamented madrasas, and see the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis. Visit the Amir Timur gate in Djizak . Drive to Tashkent. After a farewell dinner, overnight at the Miran International Hotel (or similar). (B, D)

Day 12: Tashkent Fly to London

This morning, visit the Museum of Applied Arts in a former Russian diplomat’s residence. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for a flight to London. (B)