Enigmatic. Uncharted. Historic.
This great walled fortress sits at the heart of old Bukhara. The medieval town developed around this fortress was once home to the city’s rulers. A large number of the surrounding mosques, madrasas and mausoleums have been preserved, as well as whole neighborhoods—their ancient layouts create what is essentially a large open-air museum.
The 12th-century fortress and residence of Khiva’s ruling family, this structure was expanded in the 17th century by the Khan to house their harem, stables, arsenal, mint, mosque and jail. Today, the surviving jail, Summer Mosque and mint museum are the highlights.
Topped with a brilliant aquamarine dome and decorated with exquisite tile-work, this monumental tomb is considered one of Khiva’s most beautiful structures. First built to house the remains of Pahlavon Mahmud, a poet, philosopher and legendary wrestler who became Khiva’s patron saint, the mausoleum also holds the tombs of several local khans.
The city’s centerpiece, this beautiful ensemble of three harmonious madrasas and mosques built between 1420 and 1660 was once the city’s bustling commercial center. Now it serves as a stunningly beautiful public square.
One of the region’s most brilliant bazaars, here you can haggle to your heart’s content beneath the huge green dome that defines this historic marketplace. Amidst its rows and rows of stalls, you’ll find a plethora of tasty treats and souvenirs—everything from skull-caps to kurpacha (embroidered floor pillows).
Located just 25 miles from Bishkek, this high elevation national park contains 50 peaks, 20 glaciers and three rivers. Named for the archa shrub, an indigenous type of juniper used in traditional shamanic ceremonies, the park also supports a profusion of other alpine vegetation, birds, fish, wild goats, deer and the rare, shy snow leopard.
UNESCO World Heritage Site, this craggy rock that towers over the city has long been a Muslim place of pilgrimage. Legend holds that the mountain contains the tomb of Sulayman (Solomon) who blesses visiting women with healthy children. Atop the mountain a small mosque dating back to the 1500s still draws local Muslim worshipers.
For a colorful and lively glimpse into Turkmen culture, visit this vibrant marketplace that offers everything from sheep to pistachios and it is the best place to buy a traditional Turkmen carpet.
This recognizable red-brick Russian Orthodox church was built in 1900 and serves as a centerpiece of contemporary Mary. Inside, an intriguing jumble of religious icons catch the eye.
The oldest nature reserve in Central Asia, Aksu-Dzhabagly covers the northwestern Tian Shan Mountains and provides a haven for endangered snow leopards, indigenous argali, brown bears, porcupines and marmots.