Samarkand is one of the oldest settlements of mankind. Situated at a central position on the trading route between Asia and Europe as well as in between the Orient civilization of the south and the Nomad tribes of the far north it developed into a place of prosperity and into a melting point of different cultures. They came as tradesman and conquerors, as refugees and preachers. Their traces can still be seen in the vivid faces of the inhabitants of this marvelous city. Also Samarkand is a deeply religious place with Islamic architecture dominating the central part of the town, mostly being impressive madrases (religious schools) and mosques with gorgeous blue cupolas. It is the mixture of people and graceful architecture, so different from Western Europe, that makes the city fascinating and alluring to the traveller. Truly another world worth visiting.
Previous entries in the series: Buxoro, The Enchanted City, The Desert City of Xiva
Further in the west there lies the other majestic city along the Silk Road: Buxoro or Bukhara. While Xiva is a beautiful but somewhat enclosed desert city, in Buxoro the connection to the world outside of Central Asia can be felt. In particular influences from Persia and India can be seen here (just look at the first picture). The connecting element to other cities along the Silk Road are the blue cupolas, being the symbols or landmarks of Usbekistan. Oh, and of course the Soviet cars (picture three). I like how the color of many of them still resemble an older kind of (groaning) vehicles 😉 And in case you wonder, the title of an “Enchanted City” was given to Buxoro by the diplomat Fitzroy Maclean, who worked as a diplomat in the British Embassy in Moscow and visited Central Asia in 1938. Later he called the city “enchanted” and compared the architecture to the beauty of the Italian Renaissance. Indeed the mosaics and structures (mostly religious buildings) are a stunning sight.
Unlike the last photography series, which I displayed here a couple months after the initial trip, this time I’d like to have it more immediate. So I just came back from an amazing trip to the country of Usbekistan in Central Asia. It is the modern state where many sights of the ancient Silk Road, being the major trading route between China and Europe for more than a century, happen to be. As I was there for work purposes my time for photography was very limited to a couple of hours a day, so I didn’t have the time to wait for the perfect setup very often, but rather tried to capture the beauty and immediacy of the reality in front of me as I saw it in the moment. Our first destination was the city of Xiva (or Chiwa or Khiva) in the Western part of Usbekistan. It is situated close to the Amujaria river within the fertile oasis of Chorasm, itself laying inbetween the deserts of Kysylkum (Red Sand) and Karakum (Black Sand). As the photography displayed here show I think, walking through the city felt like being transported not only within space but also within time to a mysterious, oriental place of merchants, beggars and camels (or Soviet cars) like it already used to be for centuries. In case you wonder, the huge turquoise tower is the landmark of Xiva. It was supposed to be the largest minaret in the islamic world, but the construction was abandoned midway trough. So it was decided to garnish the unfinished structure with beautiful ornaments, hereby showing of the wealth of the oasis city.