The small town Nurata is located in the foothills of Nuratau Mountains, stretching out hundreds kilometers from Jizzakh and Barren Steppe to Navoi and Kyzylkum desert. It is the administrative and cultural center of mountain area in Navoi region and is located almost 200 km from Samarkand.
Nurata was founded as the ancient town Nur, in 327 BC by Alexander the Great. The remains of his military fortress in the south of the town are still to be seen today and the water supply system that Alexander had installed is still partially used.
The fortress consisted of several parts, with Shahristan (the inner town) 500x500 meters in size, which was surrounded at that with a large wall and towers. The construction of a fortress at Nurata had a definite purpose, as the town was set in a strategic place at the border between an agricultural area and a wild steppe. This area is mentioned in several historical chronicles as an important strategic area convenient for gathering an army before attacking neighboring lands and as a place of refuge for rebels and outcasts.
The town is also famous as a Muslim pilgrimage place. Muhammad Narshakhi, who wrote about the history of Bukhara in 943, provides information about the settlement Nur, located at the foot of the mountain. Narshakhi wrote ” many people, who are buried there, have seen Prophet Muhammad ”. During the 10 th century pilgrims from Bukhara and other places came to the holy graves situated next to the town fortifications and mosques. Currently, pilgrims continue visiting the holy places. Chashma is a place of pilgrimage of believers and one of the most significant religious centers of Islam in the region. The complex of religious constructions “Chasma” (Tadjik word for spring) includes the spring, a well, mosque “Djuma” and khamom (bathhouse). The round Djuma mosque was constructed above the spring and has 40 columns. The dome, 16 meters in diameter is one of the larges in the Central Asia . On the south-east part of the complex is a Nur-ata cemetery with the burial place of the saint person.
The construction of Kariz, a unique underground water-pipeline system near Nurata, is also connected with the name of the Alexander the Great. Kariz is an ancient water-pipe laid from the source of the spring water to a place where it could be used. Its length could reach several kilometers. Interconnected wells that were dug out in several meters apart from each other, were used for the cleaning the pipeline system. Today the process of reviving these old pipeline systems is taking place. Parts of the pipeline systems near Nurata were restored and being used by local people.
Nurata leads an unhurried measured life far from large industrial and tourist centers. It numbers only 25 thousand people, and it seems that everyone know each other here. Innocence and hospitality of local population excite tourists and pilgrims, who come to visit this small beautiful town every year.