At the heart of the ancient silk route, Uzbekistan is steeped in trading history. Largely unvisited by modern travellers, its ancient cities are living museums of stunning architecture that easily evoke the romanticism of the silk trade.

The country’s greatest treasure — the glittering city of Samarkand — lies at the junction of Central Asia’s ancient caravan routes. It is here that the immense blue domes of the Registan, the most spectacular architectural ensemble in the whole of Central Asia, stopped many a traveller in their tracks. It is also here that the 19th century ‘Great Game’ struck terror into the hearts of all the players, including two British officers, Conolly and Stoddart, who lost their heads in the great square in the summer of 1842 after weeks of hellish incarceration.

Everything I have heard about the beauty of Samarkand is true – except it is more beautiful than I could have imagined.

Alexander the Great, 329 BC

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