Most travellers visiting Uzbekistan stick to the three big cities of Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara that offer innumerable sights of the splendid mosques, madrasas and minarets. But visiting Khiva is a must for any traveler for its incredible old town. Khiva’s development didn’t begin until the 16th century when it was made capital and competed with another Khan, Bukhara, also along the Silk Road.
The history of Bukhara stretches back for millennia. The city itself is about two and a half thousand years old. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a centre of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. During the golden age of the Samanids in the 9th and 10th centuries CE, Bukhara became the intellectual centre of the Islamic world. UNESCO has listed the historic center, which contains numerous mosques and madrassas, as a World Heritage Site.
Samarkand is noted for being an Islamic center for scholarly study. In the 14th century it became the capital of the empire of Timur (Tamerlane). Samarkand which is included into the World Heritage List of UNESCO can doubtlessly be called as the "Pearl of the East". Standing on the crossroad of the Great Silk Road, it took and preserved until present times the culture, art and unique architecture of the ancient world civilisations.
In the first millennium B.C., Tashkent was one of the biggest cities along the Great Silk Road, a crucial port on the ancient trade route from East Asia to the Roman Empire. Its status as a cultural crossroads led to waves of regime changes. When Arabs conquered the region in the 7th and 8th centuries, they introduced a wave of Islamic conversion whose influence lasted for more than a millennium. But when Russia seized the city in the late 1800s—and when Bolsheviks conquered adjacent territories in 1917—the country shifted toward a more secular stance, as religious practice was banned under Soviet rule.