TASHKENT - is the capital of the Republic of Uzbekistan and it is a center of official, economical and cultural activities. Its population is more than 3 000 000 inhabitants. It is located in the Chirchik river valley between the foothills of the Western Tian Shan range and the Syrdarya river at the altitude of 480m above see level. First information about Tashkent (Shash) dates back to the 2nd c. B.C. Wars of conquest and phenomena destroyed many ancient monuments. The city was rebuilt almost fully after the devastating earthquake in 1966. Nowadays, Tashkent is a city with unique architecture which combines old and modern architectural traditions and also known as a city of striking contrasts.
SAMARKAND - is the second largest city after Tashkent with the population of 320 000 inhabitants. It is situated in the valley of Zarafshan river ("bearing gold") and is surrounded by the spurs of the Pamir-Alay mountain ranges at the altitude of 725m above the sea level. Samarkand is a contemporary of Babilon, Athens, Rome. Poets and historians of the past called it "The Pearl of the East". The first settlement occupied the territory which is known as Afrosiab in our days. There was a largest town of the ancient Sogd State which was witness of all possible historical events. This town, was destroyed several times, but always revived. It withstood the armies of Alexander the Great (the end of the 4th c. B.C.) and the Arab Caliphat (VIII c.), but after the Mongol invasion (XIII c.) was never returned on the former locality. In XIV-XV centuries Samarkand became the capital of the huge territory of Amir Temur's (Tamerlane) Empire. Temur the Great gathered his army here and planned to turn Samarkand the capital of the World. More than 100 nationalities live in Samarkand in our days, so there are many multinational families. The varied dishes of Samarkand cuisine are well-known in the world.
BUKHARA - is an administrative center of Bukhara region with the population more than 241 000 inhabitants. It is located to the south-west of Uzbekistan. The town is 280km away from Samarkand. Bukhara is 2500 years old and it was mentioned in the holy book of "Avesta" as "vihara" which means "monastery" in Sanskrit. It enjoys an excellent reputation both as the spiritual and artistic capital of Central Asia. There are more than 500 architectural monuments in Bukhara and its district which belong to different epochs. Narrow streets, green parks and gardens of the old part of the town have preserved the medieval atmosphere till now.
KHIVA - is an open-air museum and the only town all over Central Asia that has survived in its entirety from old times. It is located on the territory of the Kizil-Kum desert near the Amudarya river (Oxus), 450 km. from Bukhara. The population of Khiva is about 50000 inhabitants. Nowadays, the architectural monuments of the 18th and of the first part of the 20th centuries, which are located inside fortress walls of Ichan-Kala, are well preserved.
SHAKHRISABZ- "The green town" is situated at the foot of the Zarafshan mountain ridge (the Pamir-Alay mountain ranges) in the Kashkadarya river valley. The town is 180 km. away from Samarkand at 658 m. above sea level. According to historical evidence, the town was under construction in III-I cc. B.C. yet, and named Kesh. It was renamed as Shakhrisabz in XIV century and was in the ownership of Turkic-Mongolian "Barlas" tribe. Timur the Great came from this tribe, and this land is a birth place of formidable Tamerlane. The town was a center of monumental building in the period of his reign. Shakhrisabz was destroyed in XVII century by the ruler of Bukhara Abdulla-Khan. On the portal of Tamerlane's summer palace Ak-Saray ("White Palace" which was being built for 24 years) there is the phrase of Amir Temur "If you want to know about our power you should look at our structures".
TERMEZ - is located to the south of Uzbekistan on the right bank of the Amudarya river, near the State border on Afganistan. It is an administrative center of Surkhandarya region with the population of about 100000 inhabitants. The first information about Termez dates back to the 3rd c. B.C. At that time the town was a crossroad of trade routes between China and India. Here was the Nephrite Route. There were discovered a lot of ancient sights and monuments beginning from the IV century B.C., owing to archeological excavations on the territory of old Termez. There are the ruins of monuments of Greek and Baktrian period, the remains of Buddhist monuments of Kushan the Great epoch (Buddhism came to this area from India at the beginning of the first century before it moved to China, Korea and Japan). Termez was one of the main cities on the Silk Road in the period of Tamerlane reign.
BAYSUN - it is an unusual fairyland, located on the south-western spurs of Ghissar mountain ridge, to the south of Uzbekistan, at 1250 m. above sea level. There is the Baysuntau range to the north of this region with its heights of 1700 m. and 3800 m. There are many rearing stone plates for a few hundred meters high at the foothills of Baysuntau. In bygone days Baysun region was the bed of the sea, so the sediments of lagoon formed the fanciful landscapes of different colours nowadays. There are the deepest and the most lengthy caves in the world. This is one of a few places in Central Asia where the petrified footsteps of dinosaurs have been well preserved. The world known Teshik-Tash cave is a witness of Hominids living on this territory yet before Homo Sapiens. There was discovered the settlement of Neondertals. This region was a crossroad of international caravans tracks, tsar's ways and campaign routes from the ancient times. The peculiarity of Central Asia landscape (impassable mountain ridges, arid deserts, rapid current and full-flowing rivers) promoted the beginning of the main route connecting the southern and the northern regions of Central Asia, which passed through the narrow Baysun's canyon - "The Metal Gate"- of 90 metres wide. This fact determined the historical and archaeological significance of this aria.
FERGANA VALLEY - "The Garden of Uzbekistan", "The Golden Valley". Anyone who visited this region endows it such epithets. People started to settle this area already in VI-V centuries B.C. Ancient Persians and Greeks who conquered Central Asia were witnesses of developed cultures and blossoming gardens and called this land "The cradle of civilization and the garden of Eden". At the beginning of the 20th c. Fergana Valley was divided into three parts: one was joined up with Tajikistan and others - with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Uzbek part of the valley resembles an enormous bowl surrounded by the Tyan-Shan mountain range to the north and the Alay mountain range to the south. There are many streams which rise high up in the mountains. Two of them - the Karadarya and the Naryn joining together, form the Syrdarya river (one of the largest rivers in Uzbekistan). Owing to this, the soil and the climate are very favourable for agriculture here. The total area of the Fergana Valley is 77900 sq.km. with a population of 9 000000 inhabitants. The administrative center is Fergana. The architecture of Fergana Valley cities is a confusion of Central Asian and Russian architectural styles.
Fergana - is a comparatively young city. It was built over at the end of 1877, when the tsarist Russia turned Turkestan into a colony. Kokand - is located to the west of the Fergana Valley, 110 km. away from Fergana and it is a traditional religious center of the valley. The city was built in XIX century when it was a capital of Kokand Khanate, on the place of the medieval settlement which was named Khokand or Khavokend depicted by Arabian travelers and geographers. Margilan - is one of the ancient towns in Central Asia which has preserved the medieval atmosphere till now. It is 6 km. away from Fergana and is well-known since ancient ages for its natural silk manufacture. Margilan silk was carried by merchants along the Great Silk Road to Bagdad, Kashghar, Khorasan, Egypt and Greece. In annals of the 10th century it was preserved one note: "The cost of one length of Margilan silk is amount of the cost of Bukhara estates". Kuva - is a modern town where an ancient settlement is located. Its total area is 150000 sq. m. This is shakhristan (the town inside of fortress walls) and citadel. It was named Kubo and it was arised on the territory where the first settlements were established in IV-III cc. B.C. The special popularity has been granted to the discovery of Buddhist complex which includes the temple and the shrine of Buddha. The broken statue of Buddha was found here, too. Rishtan - is a town which is well-known in the world owing to its handicraft ceramic wares. The skilled craftsmen give the secretes of handicraft from generation to generation. Nowadays, one can see many small workshops working with an ancient technology employment. Andijan - is located to the south-east of the Fergana Valley and is surrounded by mountain ranges and hills. There were many caravan-sarays along the caravan trade roads on the banks of the Andijansay and the Karadarya rivers in ancient times. Little by little they united and formed the settlement. Later, there was formed a town on that place and in the 1st century Andijan was included in Kushan kingdom. Namangan - the town was formed in the 1st part of the XVII century on the place of the settlement Namangankan ("Salt mine"). The town is located quite near the small salt lake. It was the second city by the size of population and a center of cotton manufacture in the Fergana Valley at the end of XIX century and at the 1st part of XX. At that time the structures of cult there were built.
KUNYA-URGENCH (Turkmenistan) - is a settlement of medieval Urgench. It is located to the north-west and in 180 km. away from Khiva. Urgench was the largest one and the 2nd significant town of the medieval Khorezm after Kyat, already in X c. It became the capital of Khorezmshah dynasty empire after Kyat destruction by the water of the Amudarya river. Urgench fell into decay after the Mongol invasion but at the end of XIII century it became a prosperous and almost independent town once again in Golden Horde empire. There were several conquest campaigns (1372-1388) of formidable Tamerlane to Khorezm which razed Urgench to the ground. Only a few cult-memorial structures avoided destruction. The town was finally languished at the end of the XVII c. and turned to Kunya-Urgench.