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The Golden Road to Samarkand

23 May 2021

11 days from £3,565pp

Discover the glorious colours and ornate architecture of Asia’s Silk Road cities on this unforgettable tour with Sue Rollin. Explore the old walled city of Khiva, visit an exquisite brick mausoleum in Bukhara and uncover the ancient delights of Samarkand.
  • Visit Noble Bukhara, the ‘Dome of Islam’, Samarkand, ‘Mirror of the World’ and  Khiva, ‘Pearl of the Desert’
  • In Khiva, an extraordinary museum city, our accommodation is in a converted 19C madrassah
  • Cross the Kyzylkum or Red Desert to Bukhara
  • Make a special visit to the Baland neighbourhood mosque, a 16C gem with a superb tiled interior
  • In Samarkand see the Registan, described as the ‘greatest architectural ensemble in Central Asia’
Tales of the Silk Road have enticed and beguiled the west for centuries, and images of the ‘mysterious east’, lingered on in the western imagination long after the overland trade route had disintegrated. Even today, the six central Asian ‘-stans’ are a poorly-understood region well off the European radar, and Uzbekistan is the ‘-stan’ nonpareil, being bordered by the other five. But Uzbekistan’s geographical and political isolation, has slowed the inroads of modernity, and here the glories of the Silk Road have withstood the sands of time. After flying to Tashkent, the tour properly begins in the walled city of Khiva, a figurative and literal oasis of majolica and glazed brick that owed its wealth to the vast slave market at its spectacular East Gate. From Khiva we continue to ‘the Dome of Islam’, Bukhara, to wonder at its 150-foot high Kalyan minaret and the Lyab-i Hauz architectural complex of Sufi boarding-houses and madrassahs. Our third major stop is Samarkand, Tamerlane’s capital, which he endowed with many spectacular buildings, including the vast Bibi-Khanym mosque and his own solemn mauseoleum, where visitors may find themselves recalling the words of the English poet James Elroy Flecker:  “Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells / When shadows pass gigantic on the sand / And softly through the silence beat the bells / Along the Golden Road to Samarkand.”