To help inspire or plan your trip to Uzbekistan, some of its major attractions
for travellers are shown below, including some of the best natural, historical, cultural and adventure sites in the country.
These include all of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for Uzbekistan which represent the best
of the world's cultural and natural heritage.
Click on the icons below to focus on specific types of features (click again to return to all).
Historical attractions in Uzbekistan
Samarkand is perhaps the most famous of the Silk Road cities, one of the oldest cities in the world and one of the great destinations in world travel. From its founding in the 7th century BC, Samarkand has been as the crossroads of great trade routes, cultures and peoples and was conquered by Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. In the 14th century, Tamerlane made Samarkand the capital of his empire and transformed the city into one of the finest in Central Asia. Its most famous feature is Registan Square, bordered on three sides by the three huge and stunning blue tiles madrassas Ulugbek, Sher Dor and Tillya Kari, perhaps the defining image of Central Asia and the Silk Road. Bibi Khanum Mosque has been compared to the Taj Mahal as Tamerlane constructed it for his wife. Other notable features include Ulug Beg's Observatory, where the great medieval astronomer calculated the length of the year to within 10 seconds, the Shakhi-Zinda Mausoleum complex and the gold-lined Gur Amir, the mausoleum of Tamerlane and his sons and grandsons.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures
Bukhara is considered the best preserved example of a medieval city in Central Asia, with its overall design and many monuments having changed little in centuries. With over 100 officially preserved buildings, it rewards extensive exploration. Highlights include the Ark Citadel, heart of the city and residence of Bukhara's Emirs and the Kalyan mosque and minaret from which prisoners were thrown to their deaths. The Ismael Samani mausoleum dates to the 9th century and is the resting place of the founder of the Samanid Persian dynasty. The Lyabi Hauz Square is a pool of water surrounded by mulberry trees and madrassas and the perfect place to visit a traditional teahouse. Aside from the historic monuments, Bukhara's charm lies in exploring the narrow and twisting alleyways and seeking out jewellery, spices, cloths and other goods in the bazaars.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Historic Centre of Bukhara
The ancient city of Khiva in north-western Uzbekistan is one of the most atmospheric and evocative of the Silk Road cities. Strategically located on the Volga branch of the Silk Road, Khiva has been fought over for centuries by Arabs, Mongols, Persians and Russians. The inner town of Itchan Kala is enclosed by unbroken 10 metre high walls with 40 bastions. The town is beautifully preserved and perfect for exploration amidst the madrassas and minarets. The notable buildings include the Kunya Ark fortress, Pakhlavan Makhmud complex, Toza Bog Palace, Muhammed Amin Khan Madrassah and Djuma Mosque, whose minaret offers great views of the city below.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Itchan Kala
Shakhrisyabz is located southwest of Samarkand in a valley surrounded by the Pamir Mountains. The birthplace of Tamerlane, it contains a number of historic monuments dating back to the 14th century. These include the remains of the Ak-Sarai Palace with its 50 metre high gate towers, the Dorus Saodat Complex of religious buildings and the intended royal mausoleum and the Kuk Gumbaz Mosque.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz
Nurata, formerly known as Nur, was founded in the 3rd century BC by Alexander the Great as a frontier outpost - the ruins of his hilltop Karazy Fortress still exist and offer great views. Nurata was also a place of Muslim pilgrimage with devotees flocking to the Chasma complex of religious buildings, memorials and graves.