The Silk Road evokes images of exotic mosques and towering sand dunes. Famed as the trading routes of Marco Polo and Genghis Khan, the Silk Road, a network of channels connecting Europe with Asia and the Pacific has operated for over 15 centuries. It has been used to transport almost everything, from fruit and vegetables to most famously silk, this mysterious trading route has conjured up dramatic tales for centuries.
We are travelling aboard the luxury Golden Eagle Train, enjoying many fascinating stops along this impressive journey, including Kazakhstand, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, scintillating and intrepid, these countries are unknown to most Western travellers and exotic to the senses.
Considerable time is spent in Uzbekistan due to the three World Heritage-listed cities, Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva being found here. All cities are stops on the Golden Eagle, have stunning vistas, unique people and mysterious pasts. This intriguing history has drafted the cities beautiful and noteworthy architecture, towering high pillars and awe inspiring mosques, dotting the cities with honour and respect. After Genghis Khan wreaked destruction back in the 13th Century it took a strong force of honour and religious belief to so stunningly rebuild.
Samarkand conjures the most evocative and exotic scenes on the Silk Road. Wondering the streets you are carried back to 700BC, the bustling former marketplace Registan Square is an assault on the senses, showcasing stunning Islamic architecture, detailed tiling work, and striking geometric Islamic style the scale of which is gargantuan. Walking around the square you marvel at the use of gold, with the colours in the domes, contrasting perfectly against the deep red tiling beneath your feet.
Next stop in Uzbekistan is Bukhara, where you will witness some of the most impressive Islamic structures in the world. Considered the holy centre of Central Asia this city is still bustling like it used to long ago. Like the Pyramids towering over Giza, the Taj Mahal over Agra or the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Kalyan tower governs the scene of Bukhara, this structure was the only thing pardoned by Genghis Khan, one can only assume due to its impressive stature. The rest of the dramatic city has been rebuilt from scratch, wandering the streets you stumble on stunning marketplaces and remarkable mosques.
Khiva, a mesmerizing ancient city stop on the Golden Eagle will feel special; likely there will not be another Western face whilst navigating the twisting laneways and side streets. The architecture around each corner is evocative of an outdoor museum, everywhere you turn yet something more to behold. The people here are most interested in making a friend, being a novelty is not common in many places and its worth chatting to locals to learn about everyday life. Uzbekistan is certainly off the beaten track, discovering it in luxury, stop by stop is beautifully simplistic, what’s greets you at the next stop? More stunning architecture, dusty cities or soaring dunes, or perhaps all three!