Download GPX file for this article
39.7673864.42366Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Chor Minor Madrassah

Bukhara (also spelled Bokhara, Bukhoro, or Buxoro) in Uzbekistan was historically one of the great trading cities along the Silk Road. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Sanskrit the word Bukhara means "abbey". Bukhara -"The city of museums", contains more than 140 architectural monuments of the Middle Ages. Such ensembles as Poi - Kalan, Kosh Madras, mausoleum of Ismail Samoni, minaret of Kalyan and others were built 2300 years ago, and today they attract the great attention of tourists. The famous poets like Narshahi, Rudaki Dakiki and others have played an important role in the development of Bukhara.



Legend of Siavash

According to the legend Bukhara was founded by King Siavash, a legendary Persian prince from the beginnings of the Persian Empire. After the treason of his stepmother Sudabeh, who accused him that he wanted to seduce her and betray his father, Siavash went into exile to Turan. Afrasiab, the King of Samarkand, married his daughter Ferganiza(Farangis) to him and granted him a vassal kingdom in the oasis of Bukhara. Later, Siavash was accused that he wanted to overthrow King Afrasiab and was executed in front of his wife. Siavash's father sent Rostam, the legendary Persian hero to Turan and Rostam brought Ferganiza (Farangis) and their son Kai Khosrow back to Persia.

Pre-Islamic times

The history of Bukhara can be traced back to the 4th or 5th cent. AD, the date of the first coins with Sogdian writing in an alphabet derived from Aramaic. There are no reports of a city in the area of Bukhara at the time of Alexander the Great.

From the Arab invasions to the Mongols

At the time of the Arab conquests, Bukhara was ruled by the Sogdian dynasty of the Bokar-kodats. Arab armies first appeared before Bukhara in the caliphate of Moawia, after Obayd-Allāh b. Zīād b. Abīhe crossed the Oxus (53-54/673-74). Bukhara was ruled by a woman, Katun, as regent for her infant son. She had to submit and to pay a tribute of a million dirhams and 4,000 slaves. Permanent Arab control in the city was established by Qotayba b. Moslem Baheli, who after arduous campaigns in Sogdia (87-90/706-09) overcame the resistance of the Bukharans and their Turkish allies and placed an Arab garrison in the city, forcing every home owner to share his residence with Arabs. In 94/712-13 he erected the first mosque in Bukhara within the citadel, on the site of a former Buddhist or Zoroastrian temple. In 166/782, the governor of Khorasan Fażl b. Solayman Ṭusi built walls to protect Bukhara against Turkish attacks.

In the 3rd/9th cent. the notables of Bukhara asked the Samanid ruler of Samarqand and Farḡāna Nasr b.Ahmad for help, who in 260/874 sent his younger brother Ismail to the city. Bukhara enjoyed a period of prosperity lasting for 150 years and under the patronage of the Samanid amirs served as a cultural center for Arabic learning and Persian literature. A passage by Taalebi, the famous scholar of Nisapur, praises Bukhara in the era of the Samanids as “the focus of splendour, the Kaba of the empire, the meeting-place of the unique figures of the age, the rising-place of the stars of the literary men of the world, and the forum for the outstanding per­sonages of the time”. Geographers from the Samanid period mention the division of the city in a citadel (ko­handez), the town proper (sahrestan) and a suburb (rabat). The citadel contained the palace and the original mosque of Qotayba b. Moslem. To its east, dividing it from the sahrestan, was the Rigestan, an open, sandy space, where Amir Naṣr b. Aḥmad (301-33/914-43) built a palace and where the dīvāns of the administration were situated. In this century, an outer wall with eleven gates was built. The city had clearly expanded, though geographers still criticize it as an unsanitary and crowded place.

In 389/999 Bukhara was occupied by the Ilak (Ilig) Nasr b. Ali. For the next 150 years it was part of the western Qarakhanid khanate, ruled by descendants of the Ilak Nasr. Under the loose, decentralized rule of the Turkish tribesmen, Bukhara lost its political importance. The reign of Arslan Khan Moḥammad b. Solayman (495-524/1102-30) brought peace to the city. He also rebuilt the citadel and city walls, and erected a new Friday mosque and two new palaces.

After the Mongol invasion

Bukhara was con­quered by Gengiz Khan in 616/1220. All inhabitants were driven out and the city was burned., but in the time of Ögedey Qaan (626-39/1229-41) the city was prosperous again. Ögedey placed the administration of all the settled regions of Central Asia in the hands of a Muslim merchant trusted by the Mongols, who resided in Ḵojand and reported directly to the supreme khan. The revival of prosperity of Bukhara may have been due to his efforts. He was succeeded at Bukhara by his son Masud Beg, who remained in authority until his death in 688/1289, despite feuds among the Mongol successor states and repeated shifts in their borders within Central Asia. Masud Beg was buried in the madrasa that he had built at Bukhara. The skilled craftsmen inhabiting Bukhara were apportioned among the four divi­sions of the Mongol empire), each belonging to one of Genghis Khan’s sons and his descendants; each division was entitled to revenues from the portion of the population assigned to it.

The Khanate of Bukhara

The Khanate of Bukhara came into existence after the conquest of Samarkand and Bukhara by Muhammad Shaybani. The Shaybanid Dynasty ruled the khanate from 1506 until 1598. Under their rule Bukhara became a center of arts and literature. Bukhara attracted skilled craftsmen of calligraphy and miniature painting, poets and theologians. Abd al-Aziz Jhan (1533-1550) established a library "having no equal". The khanate of Bukhara reached its greatest influence under Abdullah Khan II, who reigned from 1577 to 1598.

The Khanate of Bukhara was governed by the Janid Dynasty (Astrakhanids) in the 17th and 18th cent. It was conquered by Nadir Shah of Iran in 1740. After his death the khanate was controlled by descendants of the Uzbek emir Khudayar Bi through the position of "ataliq" (prime minister). The khanate became the Emirate of Bukhara in 1785.

Get in

By plane

The 1 Bukhara International Airport (IATA:BHK). has daily flights to Tashkent ($50) plus a weekly flight to Urgench ($57) with Uzbekistan Airways. Other destinations are Saint Petersburg with Rossiya Airlines or Moscow with Transaero Airlines.Domestic tickets can only be bought at the airport in US$.

By train

The 2 Bukhara Railway Station (Бухара 1). is located 9km southeast of the city in Kagan. Marshrutka 268 is running to and from the city centre at 3 Lyabi-Haus stop. for 1000 som. There are two daily trains connecting Bukhara with Tashkent via Samarkand. For departure times see the Uzbekistan#Get around section.

By bus or taxi

Buses and taxis to Tashkent and Samarkand leave from the 4 Northern Bus Station (about 3 km north of the city center near the Karvon Bazaar). A seat in a bus to Tashkent costs about UZS 20000 and the journey to Tashkent takes about 11 hours. A seat in a bus to Samarkand costs about UZS 15000 and the journey to Samarkand takes about 5 hours. A seat in a shared taxi to Samarkand costs about UZS 25000 and the journey to Samarkand takes about 3 hours. A seat in a shared taxi to Tashkent costs about UZS 30000 and the journey to Samarkand takes about 7 hours. [Aug 2012]

Buses and taxis to Urgench and Khiva leave from 5 Karvon Bazaar. A seat in a shared taxi to Urgench costs about UZS 70.000 and the journey takes about 4 and a half hours. The buses have irregular schedule and they come from Tashkent so you might be standing. Bus 2 or 21 will bring you from the train station to the North Bus Station and Karvon Bazaar. [Aug 2012].

Shared taxis to Karshi, Shakhrizabz, Termiz and Denau on the Tajik border leave from the 6 Sharq Bus Station (east of the center). A seat to Karshi (1.5h) costs 6000 som, to Shakhrizabz (4h) 12,000 som, to Termiz (6h) 20,000 som and Denau (6h) 25,000 som.

To Turkmenistan border you have to take a shared taxi or marshrutka from the 7 Kolkhozny Bazaar. to Qarakol or Olot. A seat in a shared taxi costs about 2,000 som and the trip takes about 40 minutes. You will have to hire a taxi from here to the border for about 2,000 som. Olot is 7 km from the Uzbek-Turkmenistan border. A taxi from the border to Turkmenabat will cost about $0.50 and the trip will take 40 minutes.

By car

Bukhara is 560 km from Tashkent, 270 km from Samarkand, 470 km form Khiva, 920 km from Andizhan, 900 km from Fergana, 160 km from Karshi, 800 km from Kokand, 560 km from Nukus, 280 km from Shahrisabz, 380 km from Termez and 440 km from Urgench. To Khiva, you can take a collective taxi at 50,000 UZS per person in downtown or hire a private taxi for $70–80 per car. To Samarkand, you can hire a private taxi for $60. Alternatively you can make 2 day excursion including Aydar Kul Yurt for $120 per car. Some of the recommended private drivers include Fahkredine (based in Bukhara, owns Nexia) on+998 93 472 5060 or Shukhrat (based in Samarkand, owns Lacetti) on +998 66 265 5522. Both speak basic English.

Get around

The Old Town is where you want to be. The beauty of it is that there is no need at all for any form of transport other than your feet as the town is so small. Also, many of the streets are far too slim to allow cars down them.

  • Sitorai Mohi Hosa (Star and Moon Garden) (6 km north of Bukhara). Wed to Mon 9AM-5PM, Tue 9AM-2PM. summer palace of the last emir of Bukhara 3600 UZS.
  • Bakhautdin Naqshband Mausoleum (2 km east of Bukhara). 8AM-7PM. one of the most important Sufi shrines with the tomb of Bakhautdin Naqshband (14th cent.), the founder of the most influential Sufi order in Central Asia free.
  • Chor-Bakr (6 km west of Bukhara). 9AM-8PM. necropolis from the 16th cent., heavily restored


The main language of Bukhara is the Tajik dialect of Persian. Russian is the second language and Uzbek is used but to a lesser extant. Bukhara, along with Samarqand and other cities in Central and Southern Uzbekistan have been historically populated by Ethnic Tajiks and Bukharian Jews who spoke Tajik along with their own dialects which today include some Uzbek and a lot of Russian loan words.


Kalon Minaret
  • 1 Kalon Minaret. It was built by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan Khan in 1127. According to the legend Arslan Khan killed an imam. The imam asked the khan in a dream to lay the imam's head on a spot where nobody can tread on it. Thus the tower was built over the imam's grave. With a height of 47 m it is Bukhara's landmark. In its ornamental bands the glazed blue tiles were used for the first time in Central Asia. It gets its nickname as the "Tower of Death" because they once executed criminals by taking them to the top and pushing them out, leaving them to fall to their death. This practice stopped in the early 1900s.
  • 2 Char Minor (four column mosque). A beautiful building tucked away in one of the lanes behind the Lyabi Hauz complex is the Char Minor. This building is now surrounded mainly by small houses and shops on its perimeter. One may find an artisan or two selling a fine piece of hand drawn paintings.
  • 3 Ark citadel, Registan Square. 9AM-6PM. From the most ancient times the Ark was the fortified residence of the rulers of Bukhara. Everything could be found there - palaces, temples, barracks, offices, the mint, warehouses, workshops, stables, an arsenal, and even a prison. Nowadays there are a few museums inside. 4500 som without guide.
  • 4 Labi-havz. The Labi-havz is considered to be the center of the Old City. Plaza Labi-havz is derived from Persian and means “ensemble near the pool”. The main element of this ensemble is the pool. The ensemble Labi-havz has three monumental structures. Kukeldash madrassah (16th century) was built by Abdullah II was, at the time, the biggest Islamic School in Central Asia. Nadir Devanbegi Madrassah (16th century) was inteded to be a caravan saray, but according to the order of the ruler Imam Kulimkhan, was reconstructed into a Madrassah. Nadir Devanbegi Khanaka (winter mosque) was built at the same time as the Labi-havz (16th century).
  • 5 Ismail Samani Mausoleum. The mausoleum was built during the reign of Ismail Samani, one of the most outstanding members of the Samanids dynasty, who ruled Bukhara from 892 until 907. Originally, the mausoleum was intended for the grave of Ismail Samani’s father, Akhmad, but later became the burial vault of the Samanids. It was completed in 905 and is the oldest Muslim monument in Bukhara. It is considered as a masterpiece of early Islamic architecture.
  • 6 Chashma-Ayub mausoleum. Chashma-Ayub is located near the Samani mausoleum. Its name in Persian means Job's spring due to the legend according to which Job (Ayub) visited this place and brought forth a spring of water by the blow of his staff on the ground. The water of this well is still pure and is considered healing. The current building was constructed during the reign of Timur and features a Khwarazm-style conical dome uncommon in Bukhara.
  • 7 Kukeldash Medressa, Mekhtar Anbar st.. built by Abdullah II., at the time the biggest Islamic school in Central Asia
  • Taqi Sarrafon. bazaar of the moneychangers
  • Taqi-Telpak Furushon. bazaar of the cap makers
  • Taqi-Zaragon. bazaar of the jewellers
  • 8 Maghoki Attar Mosque. the oldest surviving mosque in Central Asia, dating back to the 9th cent., reconstructed in the 16th cent.
  • Faizullah Khojaev House, Tukaeva. Mon to Sat 9AM-5PM. 2000 UZS.

Historical and architectural monuments of Bukhara : • The Poi Kalyan Complex, • An Ensemble of Lyabi -Khauz, • Madrasah of Ulugbek, • Mausoleum of Sayfiddin Bukharzi and Bayan Quli, • The Kosh Madrasah Ensemble, • The Palace of Emir of Bukhara "Sitorai Mohi Hossa", • Chor-Bakr - the burial place of shih Jubaeri family . And also: • An Ensemble of Bola - Hauz, • The Cemetery of Chashmoi - Ayub, • Madrasah of Abdulla - han, • Madrasah of Madari - han, • The Mosque of Baland (High), • An Ensemble of Gaukushon, • Honaka of Zaynutdin Hodji, • Hanaka of Nodir Divanbegi, • Madrasah of Abdulaziz Han, • The Mosque of Bola Hauz, • The Mosque of Namazgoh, • Hanaka of Fayzabad


  • Hammam Borzi Kord, Taqi-Telpak Furushon. Open for local men until 2PM then for tourists of mixed gender until midnight. one of Bukhara's most famous hamomi (baths) 50,000 UZS including scrub and massage.
  • Hammom Kunjak, Ibidov 4. 7AM-6PM. The women's bathhose, near Kalon Minaret. UZS 3000.
  • Folklore and Fashion Show, Nadir Divanbegi Medressa. Apr/May 6:30PM, July/Aug 7PM, Sep/Oct 7:30PM. show with traditional music and dancing 10,500UZS for show only.


A Bokhara carpet

Bukhara is famous for rugs. Historically, rugs woven by nomadic or village Turkomans were called "Bokhara carpets" because the city was a center for trading them. Today the city itself also produces many rugs.

  • Tim Abdulla Khan, Hagigat (near Taqi-Telpaq Furushon Bazaar). 9AM-6PM. silk and carpets
  • Unesco Carpet Weaving Shop, Eshoni Pir 57. Mon to Sat 9AM-5PM.
  • Bukhara Artisan Development Center, Bakhautdin Naqshband.
  • Original Bukhara Scissors, Touristville (Lyobi Khauz).


Beware of scams! Travelers report unfair behavior and overcharged bills at Shaxriston restaurant (same street as Hammam Bozori Kord) and Asia Cafe (next to Lyabi Hauz).

  • BoloXauz Teahouse. Decent eatery not far from the Boloxauz mosque.
  • Caravan, 12 Mukhamad Ikbol Str. (500 m from Hotel Semurg), +998 65 3830505. European and Uigur dishes $4 to $12.
  • Chashmai-Mirab. 11:00–21:00. Plov: 4000 som (2011).
  • Doston House, 5 K. Kalon Str. Uzbek guesthouse situated in the old part of Bukhara, built by a Bukharian Jew in the end of the 19th cent. In the courtyard, lepeshka (bread) and samsa (pastries) are prepared on a tandir (clay oven). lunch, dinner $8, folklore show $35.
  • Guest House of Rustam Saidjanov (100 meters from Lyabi Hauz). Built at the second half of the 19th cent. by a merchant-moneychanger (sarrof) belonging to the middle class, this guest house is now run by the grandson of the archaeologist Prof. Musa Saidjanov. Guests might sit upon kurpacha (thin mattress) with velvet cushions at the dastarhan (low table).
  • 1 Lyabi-Khauz. 9:00–21:00. Decent cafe on the central square. Mains: 5000–8000 som (2011).
  • Minzifa. 11:00–23:00. Terrace restaurant near Lyabi Hauz in Old Town. Great food and service by English speaking staff. Live music and nice view. Prices are a bit higher than average. Mains: 7000–8000 som (2011).
  • Siyavush. 8:00–21:00. Mains: 5000 som (2011).
  • Central Market. If you want to mingle with locals, go to the central market and try one of the small eateries in a huge building located across the street from the main entrance. They exclusively serve shashlyk. A decent portion of meat costs as low as 4000 som (2011).
  • Food Market, in front of Lyabi-Hauz square. This mini-market with the big sign "Food Market" is NOT recommended as it always overcharges 30%-60%!


  • Silk Road Spices Tea House, 5 Halim Ibodov Str. serving spice and herbal tea, saffron and ginger tea, coffee with cardamom, green and black tea as well as sweets (halva, qandalat and nabat). Highly recommended! UZS 11000.
  • Nughay Caravanserai Wine Tasting, Bakhautdin Naqshband 78. 11AM-9PM. wine shop and tasting rooms in a 18the cent. caravanserai


There are numerous bed and breakfast places around the Lyabi Hauze complex. These are excellent for independent travellers. Rooms can be had quite cheap (less than $20 per person but standards and prices vary place to place), but make sure you look at a few before you make your choice. Some of them are amazing houses set round courtyards and provide an unforgettable experience much better than any hotel. You can also expect some top quality breakfasts with fruit, bread, cheese, yoghurt, and an unlimited supply of tea!

  • Amelia Boutique Hotel, 1 Bozor Hodja Street (in the old center, close to the ensemble Lyabi Hauz), +998 65 2241263, +998 65 2242631. All rooms have A/C, satellite TV, great bathroom facilities, fridge, hairdryer, phone with international access and wi-Fi. The Hotel was Jewish merchant’s house built in 19th cent. near the "Synagogue" (Jewish temple) in the city center (perfect location). single US $35, double US $60.
  • Hotel Grand Nodirbek, 10 Sarafon Street (25 meters from the Lyub-i-hauz ensemble), +998 65 224-3446. Nice Interior Courtyard, friendly receptionist named Fahreddin, satellite television (great if you understand Uzbek, Russian, or Turkmen), a/c. Bathrooms are extremely clean and modern. US $20-30 with breakfast.
  • Madina & Ilyos B&B, Mehtar Anbar St. 18, +998 65-224-6162. Located in centre of town. US from $10 with breakfast.
  • 1 Hotel Amulet, 74 Nakshbandi St, +998 65 2245342, +998 65 724028, fax: +998 65 2241728, . Located in the old city of Bukhara, just next to the ancient Lyabi Khauz ensemble (16-17th century). It was built in the early 19th century by a famous merchant, Said Kamol, as a madrasah where students lived and studied everything from philosophy to religion. Today it remains a national monument that has been reconstructed to allow others the chance to experience the traditional life of years ago. Room facilities: bath room with the shower; air conditioning; heating; satellite TV; hair-drier. $40-$60.
  • Komil Bukhara Boutique Hotel, 40 Barakyon Street. located in the old city of Bukhara, about 5 minutes walking distance from Lyabi Khauz, 8 richly decorated double rooms with private bath, air conditionning, satellite TV and minibar, windows facing to an inner terrace, small restaurant with local and European cuisine.
  • Buchara Palace Hotel, 8 Navoi Str, +998 65 2230024. four star hotel in the city center with 220 rooms, restaurant, swimming pool, night club and bar
  • Zargaron Plaza Hotel, 256m Nakshbandi Str, +998 65 2230352. four star hotel, built 2009, 2 kilometers from the city center, with 40 rooms, restaurant, bar and swimming pool
  • Zargaron Hotel, 8, Chakikat Str., +998 65 2245821. three star hotel in the old town in the style of the 19th century
  • Hotel Mekhtar Ambar, 91, B.Nakshbandi St (between Chor Minor and Labi Khauz), +998 65 2244168, . In a medrese from the 19th century, ten rooms decorated with antique suzanes and carpets, satellit.
  • 2 Nasruddin Navruz Hotel, Babahanov 37. Centrally located and clean. All rooms have TVs and air conditioned. The price does not include breakfast. Owners and staff can be extremely rude and impolite depending on their mood. Wifi available but they would even unplug the cable in front of you if you are not their favorite customer. Does not provide a stamp on the registration paper, NOT to be trusted and definitely not recommended [Aug 2012] {GPS N , E} from $20 without breakfast.
  • 3 Rustam-Zuxro B&B, 116 B. Nakshband (on the main street, around 100 m. from Lyabi-Hauz), +998 65 224 30 80. Centrally located with very polite and friendly staff, the woman in charge will make sure you have everything you need. Most rooms are air conditioned. Big breakfast included, free WiFi, spacious courtyard where you can secure your bicycle or motorcycle. There are also family rooms with big bath tabs. Registration provided. dorms for $15, rooms from $45.


Go next

Most travellers head from Bukhara to the other two silk road cities of Samarkand (3h by train) or Khiva (5h by shared taxi).

This city travel guide to Bukhara is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.