Samarkand is situated in the valley of the river Zarafshan. It is the second largest city of Uzbekistan and is of the same age as the city of Babylon or Rome.
The city is most noted for its central position on the Silk Road between China and the West, and for being an Islamic centre for scholarly study. In the 14th century it became the capital of the empire of Timur (Tamerlane) and is the site of his mausoleum (the Gur-e Amir). The Bibi-Khanym Mosque (a modern replica) remains one of the city's most notable landmarks. The Registan was the ancient center of the city.
The history of Samarkand is about 2,500 years old and has witnessed many upheavals during the times of Alexander the Great, the Arabic Conquest, Genghis-Khan Conquest and lastly Tamerlane's. Hence, the culture of Samarkand was developed and mixed together with the Iranian, Indian, Mongolian and a bit of the Western and Eastern cultures.
In its time, the city was conquered by the warriors of Alexander the Great, the Army of the Arab Caliphate, and the Mongol hordes of Genghis-khan. Each time, after the bloody battles, devastation and fire, it was reborn, to become once again an important city, and at times the capital of a major Central Asian state.
The city was known by an abbreviated name of Marakanda when Alexander the Great took it in 332 BC. There are various theories of how Marakanda evolved into Samarkanda/Samarkan. One derives the name from the Old Persian asmara, "stone", "rock", and Sogdian kand, "fort", "town".
Samarkand’s importance to the history and culture mankind is now being recognized by UN, UNESCO and WTO, which are helping to promote tourism to the region. As the government, who has made tourism a priority sector for development is continuing to invest hotels, airports, transportation and leisure facilities, service is becoming yet another of the country’s attractions.
In 2001, UNESCO added the city to its World Heritage List as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures.
Today Samarkand is the treasure of unique antiquity spirit. Samarkand has always been famous as a cultural center and today is considered to be a city of craftsmen and scientists.
Sister Cities to Samarkand: