Bukhara has gone down like a pearl in the history of the Great Silk Road. There were more than 60 caravanserais where merchants from India, China, Iran and other countries stopped. Bukhara remained a fertile oasis and a great scientific and cultural centre on the Great Silk Road.
The city of Bukhara is over 2500 years old. There are various legends and stories about the origin of the city. One of the legends says that the son of King Siyavush came to Bukhara, married the daughter of King Afrasiab and built the fortress Ark there.
In ancient times, Bukhara belonged to one of the regions of Central Asia – Sogd, where an urban structure had already developed by the time of Alexander the Great. There are different versions about the origin of the city’s name: in one version the word Bukhara means “monastery” (vihara); in another version it means “place of knowledge”.
The information about ancient Bukhara can be found in the work of the great Arab traveller and scholar Abū Abdallāh Muhammad Ibn Battūta (1304-1369) “Rihla” (Journey), in the records of the Italian merchant and traveller Marco Polo (1254-1324), but the first term Buho was mentioned by the Chinese traveller Xuanzang around 630 AD.
The numerous mosques and Koranic schools shape the image of the “holy Bukhara“, the place of pilgrimage for the followers of Islam. In the 15th century, the place was inhabited by Sheikh Bahá-ud-dín Shah an-Naqshband Muhammad al-Uwaysi al-Bukhárí, the founder of the Sufi order, whose teachings were spread all over the world.
The Great Silk Road, which opened up trade opportunities between East and West, contributed to the further development of the city, which became a financial and commercial centre. The city was located at the crossroads of caravan routes and was connected to Persia, China, India and Russia.
In the Middle Ages, Bukhara became a cultural and scientific centre: famous poets and scientists lived and worked here – Rudaki, Firdausi, Narshakhi, Al-Farabi, Abu Ali ibn Sino (Avicenna), etc.
The many architectural and cultural monuments of Bukhara (about 140), which have been preserved to this day, bear witness to the long history of the city and the Great Silk Road.