Bukhara’s train station is not in Bukhara at all, but rather at Kagan, around 10 minutes’ drive east of the Old Town. When the Russians built the Transcaspian Railway, the Emir of Bukhara was perturbed at the prospect of having this new-fangled technology so close, so he banned it within the city limits.
The Bukharan Emirs were colourful, often terrifying characters, but great patrons of art and architecture. The
Ark of Bukhara – the mudbrick fortress which dominates the Old Town – was smashed by the forces of Genghis Khan and then again by the Red Army, but it remains an impressive structure today.
Bukhara has always been considered a holy city, a place of Islamic learning. This accounts for the hundreds of mosques, madrassas and mausoleums you will see here, many of which were quite avantgarde for their time. The 9th century Ismail Samani mausoleum is unique in that it incorporates both Zoroastrian and Islamic motifs; and at the Sitorai Mokhikhosa (‘The Palace of Moon-like Stars’), traditional Uzbek architectural styles collide with those of Imperial Russia.
The historic monuments in Bukhara are uncountable, well deserving of their protected UNESCO status. Walk the paved pedestrianised streets to get your bearings, weave in and out of courtyards and the ancient trading domes, and sit and reflect whenever the mood takes you on the beauty of the minarets and tiled porticoes.