My visit to Uzbekistan in July 2023. Pictured in Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand.

From its location in the sunny country of Uzbekistan or Mā Warāʾ Al-Nahr, prospering from its place on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean, Marakanda being its Greek name because of Alexander the Great’s conquering, the ancient paper-making center of the world, and the capital of the militaristic empire of Amir Temur (also known as “Tamerlane” or “Timur the Lame”). Samarkand is known as one of the most historic and greatest cities in Central Asia. The pearl of the Islamic world.

Today is the celebration of its founding almost three millennia ago. An unknown holiday of the historic yet underrated former capital of Uzbekistan. The holiday was established on October 18, 1996, during the 660th anniversary of Amir Temur, who designated Samarkand as his militaristic capital. Samarkand is woken with the sounds of karnay (Uzbek trumpets) on the morning of the holiday to announce the celebration to citizens.

Langston Hughes (left) pictured with Shaali Kekilov (right), a Turkmen poet, on his visit to Soviet Central Asia. Image by Tongue Journal.

African-American poet Langston Hughes was in awe when he visited Samarkand during his Soviet Central Asia trip in the 1930s. In Colored Dispatches from the Uzbek Border: Langston Hughes’ Relevance, 1933-2002, Hughes says, “Samarkand! Green-curled Samarkand! City of Tamerlane, the Earth Shaker; before that, city of Genghis Khan, leader of the Mongols; and ere that the sporting ground of Alexander the Great … Samarkand, flourishing center of Arabic culture in the twelfth century; seat of the ancient observatory of the astronomer Ulug Beg; golden name to the Venetian merchants of the Middle Ages when silks came from Cathay; lovely song-city of the Oriental poets; city of the turquoise domes-Samarkand!”

Since the boost of tourism in Uzbekistan, encouraged by the current president Shavkat Mirziyoev, tourism has expanded and grown recently.

With 11 provinces, the most historic ones Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, many tourists come from all over the world to view such alluring sights. The most important are in Samarkand, such as Registan, Bibi-Khanum, the Ulugbek Observatory, Shah-i-Zinda, Gur-e-Amir, and more.

The vibrant international music festival of Sharq Taronalari, or Melodies of the East, taking place in Registan. Image by Anur Tour.

An International Music Festival named Sharq Taronalari, or Melodies of the East, takes place in Registan, Samarkand, every two years, where each country of the world performs traditional dances and music from their culture. Sharq Taronalari has been recognized in the UNESCO International Cultural Events list as one of the most popular events for those looking to learn more about Uzbekistan and its heritage.

Samarkand is an unknown city with a fascinating history located in Uzbekistan in the obscure region of Central Asia. Small cities with rich history need to be appreciated and celebrated. 

“Ona yurtim Samarkandim, go’zal bir diyor,
Bu diyorni tildan tushmas tariflari bo’r
Yer yuzida sayqal bo’lgan Samarkandimsan
Sen dillarda haykal bo’lgan Samarkandimsan.”

Poem about Samarkand in O’zbek, poet unknown.

“My motherland Samarkand, a beautiful land,
The land with the most spoken-about history
Being the glitter on earth, my Samarkand
You are the monument to our hearts, my Samarkand.”

Poem about Samarkand translated in English, poet unknown.

Malika Burieva

Content Creator
Adelphi University ’24
B.A In Communications