In the spurs of the Western Tien Shan stretches Tashkent oasis. More than 20 centuries ago at the crossroads of caravan routes leading from Russia to India, from China to Rome, from Iran to Mongolia emerged a small settlement called Yuni (the first written mention – end II beginning of the I centuries BC.). Then the name changed: Judge, Chach, Shash, Binkent. The current name – Tashkent – first mentioned in written sources of the XI century. By XIV century there already existed a large feudal fortress city. Since 1930, Tashkent became the capital of the Uzbek SSR. Now it is a large modern metropolis with a population of over 2.5 million people. Wars and natural disasters have destroyed many monuments here. After the devastating earthquake in 1966, the city was practically rebuilt. Tashkent is constantly growing and prettier, decorated with new parks, fountains, boulevards and buildings, facilities with the latest technology of seismic resistant construction.
It is one of the oldest cities in the world (2750 years) – “Pearl of the East”, as it was called chroniclers and poets of antiquity – is located on the territory of the Zarafshan River Basin ( “gold bearing”). The founder of this Samarkand is a huge settlement of Afrasiab, named by the ancient Greeks Marakanda. Here in the middle of the 1st millennium BC there was a fortress city, which was destroyed in the IV century BC by armies of Alexander the Great. In the VIII century, the rebuilt city was again destroyed by the troops of the Arab Caliphate, but revived to life. After the invasion of hordes of Genghis Khan in the XIII century, Afrasiab ceased to exist and the residents moved to the south-west of it,on the territory of the present Samarkand. The heyday of the medieval town is connected with the rule of Amir Temur (Tamerlane – 1370-1405 years), selected Samarkand as the capital of his vast empire, which included Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of India, the entire territory of the present Central Asia and were in vassal depending on Egypt, Syria, Turkey, the Golden Horde, Mogolistan (territory of present Kyrgyzstan). In the XVI century, Bukhara was became the capital and Samarkand during the following centuries, as well as the entire territory of Central Asia, has experienced a period of feudal disintegration. In 1868 the city was occupied by Russian colonial troops and entered in the newly created Zeravshan District of Turkestan Governor General. During this period, there are built houses of European style, developed parks, squares and boulevards. Since 1924 year by 1930year -it had been the capital of Soviet Uzbekistan. Now Samarkand – the second largest and by numbers of universities city in the country with a population of over 500 000 people.
During its long history (2500 years) Bukhara repeatedly conquered, destroyed, lost its international importance as a center of spiritual culture of the East. But every time “Bukhara-i-Sharif” ( “Noble Bukhara”) newly restored, revived its economy, science and art, constructed new buildings. The first mention of it is in the holy book “Avesta”, entitled “Vihar” which in Sanskrit means “monastery”. At that time it was a small village surrounded by marshes. After the domination of the Tajik Samanid (IX-X centuries), perhaps the greatest prosperity reaches Bukhara in the second half of the XVI century. By the XVI-XVII centuries the city – the capital of the independent khanate of Bukhara, and by the middle of the XVIII century – the emirate. The central part of the “old” city is a holistic architectural ensemble. Even in Soviet times on the tops of the minarets and domes of the sacred bird nesting Bukhara – storks. At a great height against the sky could be seen a clear silhouette of the bird. It was one of the city’s attractions. In Bukhara and its suburbs are located over 500 architectural monuments from different times and eras. It is necessary to wander through the narrow streets of the “old” town and you have the impression that the “time machine” will move you to the medieval East.