The scientists say that the place around modern territory of Bukhara had been inhabited for about 5 millennia, and the time of existing of this city is about 2,5 millennia. The meaning of the city name is “lucky place” or “the place of good fortune” and for a long time this lucky place had been the center of trade and culture, religion and scholarship on the way of the Great Silk Road. Bukhara, like Samarkand, is listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, because of its beautiful old minarets and madrassas standing in the historic center of this ancient city. The changes in Bukhara are not such big like in Tashkent or Samarkand – it’s almost the same as before. The streets are the same and the architecture the same. You have to visit this place because it will show you the best how the ancient city of Uzbekistan looked centuries ago.
The official time of founding of Bukhara is 500 BCE. It was a center of trade during the rise of the Great Silk Road; also the center of Islamic World in the prosperity age of Samanids dynasty; also it was marked as one of the centers of Persian Civilization (this event related to the early days of the city about 6th century BC).
But not only being the center of culture, trade and science glorified Bukhara in the centuries, but also its important role in administrative life of Turkestan. Once it had been the capital of very ancient state called also Bukhara (6th to 8th cent AD). From 9th to 10th century the city of Bukhara had been the capital of Samanids, then in 16th century the capital of Sheybanids Great Empire, and also from 18th to 20th century it was famous as the capital of Bukhara Emirate. Finally, from 1920 to 1924 this city had been the administrative center of Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic.
Many of the most important events of Uzbekistan history took place in Bukhara, but unfortunately there are almost no documental records left. Ancient sources of course mention the city, but not the whole city, only the part that had been connected to ancient Sogdiana. Chinese sources of the early Middle Ages mention Bukhara too, but the information is really poor. So no one knows and can tell exactly how old the city known in Muslim world as "Bukhara-i-Sharif" is. The scientists only can guess. Best guide to the history of this mysterious city is surely translated into Persian (and originally written in Arabic) the book “History of Bukhara” written by Mukhammad Narshakhi.
Once famous Scottish writer and politician Fitzroy Maclean during his travel to Bukhara called it “enchanted city” and its architecture he defined as "the finest of the Italian Renaissance". You can read his “Eastern Approaches” but better for you to take a walk to Bukhara and you will understand what he meant under these mysterious characteristics.
You should start with Poi-Kalyan Ensemble which undoubtedly is most significant architecture monument in Bukhara. The components of this ensemble are really grand and beautiful. Kalyan Minaret, or the Grand Minaret: its historic name is Death Tower, because the criminals were thrown down from the top. Made like circular-pillar and narrowing upwards brick tower, Kalyan Minaret was built in 1127 by the order of Mohammad Arslan Khan. Kalyan Mosque is the second component of the Ensemble, similar in its size to Bibi-Khanim Mosque of Samarkand. Mir-i Arab Madrassah is the third component of Poi-Kalyan Ensemble and it is very little information about it.
Among the other interesting historical sights of Bukhara is Ismail Samani mausoleum related to 9th-10th centuries (he was the founder of Samanids dynasty). Near it you will find Chashma-Ayub mausoleum, constructed during the rule of Tamerlane.
And of course you have to visit second great Ensemble of Bukhara – Lab-I Hauz (the meaning of the name is “by the pond”). It surrounds one of the few survived after the Soviet period Bukhara pounds. Other sights are The Ark (fortress) and Char Minor placed behind the Lab-I Hauz Ensemble, Medieval Baths of Bukhara, Nadir Divan-begi Madrasah, Djami Mosque, Magoki-Attori Mosque.
Nowadays Bukhara city inhabited by 90% Tajiks (Persian-speaking) and 10% of Uzbeks. Bukharan Jews (most of them) left the city to live in the USA and Israel. Bukhara hasn’t changed its look much, so the ancient atmosphere of the city will take you by surprise.
Visit Bukhara State Museum to know more about the history and architecture of this city (it’s opened from 09 am to 04:30 pm, Wednesday is day off); there is also Gijduvan Museum of Ceramics (great collection of ceramics made by modern masters). And of course you should pay your attention to Bukhara cafes and restaurants (especially if you call yourself gourmet): among them are Lyab-I Hauz Tea Houses, Silk Road Spices Tea house (one of the most popular tea houses in the city), Nodir Devonbegi Madrassah (it’s a restaurant with national dishes).