CHAPTER 7
SAMARKAND: QUEEN OF ALL CITIES
MUALLA UYDU YÜCEL
CONTENTS
Introduction ........................................................................................... 150
Historical Background .......................................................................... 150
Historical Monuments ........................................................................... 160
Conclusion ............................................................................................ 165
Keywords .............................................................................................. 169
References ............................................................................................. 170
150 Tourism in Central Asia: Cultural Potential and Challenges
INTRODUCTION
A glance at the map of Asia, one could not have a thorough idea about how
gigantic this continent is. In order to have a real impression about the size
of Asia, you must go back hundreds of years and travel between China
and Anatolia on a trade caravan. To walk with camels along this long route
would be in a sense to stroll through the pages of human experience and
its civilizations. Starting at Anatolia on the west, covering the area of the
Fırat and Dicle passing south of the Caspian sea and the caucuses, look-
ing ahead to the east, thinking thousands of kilometers you’ve already left
behind is only the beginning of the journey, may give you an awful feeling
of tiredness.’ But you would walk on and arrive in Samarkand. No mat-
ter who you are or where you come from she would embrace you with a
maternal love. There you would witness the east and the west, the north
and the south all in one city. Despite wanting to stay you would continue.
The Silk Road would finally take you to Beijing hence you would then
know that the size of Asia is as vast as the human history itself. Dating
back as far as 1500 B.C. to Early Iron Age, Samarkand and its faithful
sister Bukhara have been called “The Gateway to the East” because of
their unique location in the middle of ancient Silk Road, which stretches
between Europe and China passing through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and
India. Especially Samarkand has always been a sanctuary in the middle of
the steppes with stunning vineyards and fabulous gardens. The best way
to describe these cities is to portray them as two sisters. Standing hand-in-
hand, here in the heart of Asia. Standing tall and proud all throughout the
ages, yet still standing today welcoming every stranger that passes by with
the same graceful beauty.
The trade caravans that are traveling from east to west encounter Sa-
markand and hail it rst. Bukhara may be the younger sister of Samarkand
but nevertheless she is an inseparable part of her. They were born together
and their faith has brought them to this age without untying their devotion
to each other. The best way to describe these two cities is to envision them
as two beautiful women as they are indeed.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
First Samarkand; She was born ages ago as a Turkic baby. Her Father
Alper Tunga, as described in the legends, laid the foundations of the city
Samarkand: Queen of all Cities 151
with sacred aspirations accordance with the Turkish etiquette at today’s
archaeological site known as Afrasiyap Hill (Fig. 1). Samarkand is located
in the area called Mawarannahr (Transoxiana), between the rivers of Amu
Darya (ancient Oxus) and Syr Darya (ancient Jaxartes), in the oasis of
Zarafshan watered by Zarafshan river. Besides the beauty of this location
Samarkand was also blessed with a gift of fertility. With six hundred thou-
sand inhabitants, she still stands as the agricultural core of Central Asia, as
a testimony to the fertility of this land that has been abiding right through
the ages (Fig. 2).
FIGURE 1 City of Afrasiab Illustration (Arapov, 2006).
FIGURE 2 Map of Uzbekistan (www.orsam.org.tr).

Get Tourism in Central Asia now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.