Samarkand – one of the world’s oldest cities (2750 years). “Pearl of the East”, as the chroniclers and poets of antiquity called it – is located on the territory of the Zeravshan river basin (“gold-bearing”).
The ancestor of present day Samarkand – called Marakanda by the ancient Greeks is the massive settlement of Afrasiab. Here in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. there was an ancient city, which later in the 4th century BC. was destroyed by the troops of Alexander the Great. Then in VIII century, the restored city was again destroyed by the troops of the Arab Caliphate, and again revived. After the invasion of the hordes of Genghis Khan in the XIII century, Afrasiab’s very existance ceased and the inhabitants moved southwest, to the territory of present-day Samarkand.
The heyday of the medieval city is associated with the reign of Amir Temur (Tamerlane – 1370-1405), who chose Samarkand as the capital of his vast empire, which included Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, part of India, the entire territory of present-day Central Asia, and also lands of Egypt, Syria, Turkey, the Golden Horde, Mogolistan (present-day Kyrgyzstan) were in vassalage dependence on.
In the 16th century the capital shifts to Bukhara and over the following centuries Samarkand as well as an entire Central Asia’s territory, went through a period of feudal decay. In 1868, the city was occupied by Russian colonial troops and entered the newly created Zeravshan district of the Turkestan Governor General. During this period, European-style houses were built here, parks, squares and boulevards were laid out. From 1924 to 1930 Samarkand becomes the capital of Soviet Uzbek Republic. Nowadays Samarkand is the second largest city in the country by many standards including the number of universities functioning with a population of over 500,000 people.
Historical architectural objects
- Abdi-Darun ensemble (XII-XX centuries)
- Khoja Daniyar mausoleum (Saint Daniel – XIV-XIX centuries)
- Rukhabad mausoleum (XIV c)
- Ak-Saray mausoleum (XV c)
- Cathedral Mosque of Bibi Khanym (XV c)
- Shah-i-Zinda ensemble of mausoleums (XI-XIX centuries)
- Museum of Ulugbek and the remains of the observatory of Ulugbek (XV c)
- Gur-Emir mausoleum – the family tomb of the Timurid dynasty in the male line (XV century)
- Registan Ensemble – area of three madrassahs (muslim world educational institutions): Ulugbek (XV c), Tillya-Kari (XVII c), Sher-Dor (XVII c)
- Ishrat Khan mausoleum (XV c)
Samarkand Viloyat (region)
Area – 16.77 thousand km2
Administrative center – the city of Samarkand (354 km from Tashkent)
The region is located in a basin surrounded by the spurs of Zeravshan and Turkestan (from south and north respectively) ranges, in the valley of the River Zeravshan.
The climate of the region is sharply continental – mild winters are marked by little frosts and summers are dry and hot.
Agriculture of the region is represented by: cotton growing, horticulture, vegetable growing, viticulture, tobacco growing, cocoon production and beekeeping.
The region (in the republic) occupies a leading place in the cultivation of fruits, grapes and the production of raisins.
Extensive pastures of the northern and southern foothills contribute to the development of meat and dairy cattle breeding in the region. By the number of cattle the region occupies a leading position in Uzbekistan. The Samarkand region also plays a leading role in the development of astrakhan breeding craft of the republic. The Scientific Research Institute of Karakul Breeding operates in Samarkand.
The basis of the region’s economy constitutes a gigantic agro-industrial complex.
Gypsum, limestone, granite, marble, clay for expanded clay, brick raw materials, gravel are mined in the depths of the province.
The leading industrial positions here belong to the heavy and mining industries. The production of domestic and freight elevators, household electrical appliances, building materials is well established. The machine-building, metal-working, chemical, food industries, the production of porcelain and faience products are widely represented. The light industry is focused on cotton-cleaning, sewing, silk-winding and silk-weaving, knitwear, footwear and other enterprises.
Wine and vodka, canning, tea-packing tobacco enterprises operate in the food industry.
Samarkand is an important air, rail and road hub of the republic.
Higher education in the region is represented by the State University, 5 institutes (educational), some branches of Moscow universities.