Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not Quite Bustling Bukhara

So, there are tourists in Central Asia! Yes, I found them here in Bukhara. The old town and tourist part is very Middle Eastern, reminding me of Iran, although the other parts are more Russian.  It's an interesting place for a day or two. There is a nice central square where a restaurant served me a feast for around seven dollars. Much more pleasant and alive at night though, I met some people from a German tour group, also there are a few French ones about the place as well. I saw maybe three tourists in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan I met a few backpackers from different places. But here is of more interest to the typical tourist. I will also add that I haven't met an Australian since I have been in Central Asia - that's a month now. 
 The old town is filled with mosques, minarets and medressas (Islamic schools), some still working, some not. The blue mosaics of Iran are in prominence here, there is a Sufi influence such as can be seen at Uch Shariff in Pakistan. It's fair to say that after being in the other two 'Stan's, Bukhara is a different world. Except you can still find Shaslyck wherever you go! (and however you spell it too)
A Bukaran Medressa.
 The Kalon Mosque and Minaret are possibly the most stunning features here, the pictures tell the tale far better than I did. All I can say is that I walked around the city in the forty degree heat and after four hours I was well and truly cooked. However, the Kalon Mosque was peaceful and quiet and a nice place to sit and reflect for a while.
A view from afar of the Kalon Mosque and Minaret.
Ancient Bukhara was a city on the Silk road which saw goods travel from Asia to Europe. In these days the citadel (known as the 'Ark') was the seat of power. However, it was mostly destroyed by the Soviets in around 1920. Now partially restored, it houses several little museums including, which showcase old coins, photos, pottery and the like. Most interesting is the collection of large Samovars. Each little museum has one on display, and each one seemed just that little bigger than the previous! Not very middle eastern and belonging to the period of the Soviet Union, but I find these things amusing!
The walls of 'The Ark'.

One of the many grand Samovars!
So that's Bukhara. Also there are many little mini-bazaars, now seemingly only stocking souvenirs. If you are souvenir hunting, this is your place! They are usually under domes, some are quite interesting. Tomorrow, to Samarkand!

Domes, under which lies a small Bazaar.

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