Updated on: 9 August, 2021
Uzbekistan, located deep in Central Asia, is an absolutely fascinating travel destination. And luckily still quite an insider tip. You won’t find overcrowded sights, rip-offs and annoyed locals here.
We particularly liked the city of Bukhara (also spelled Buxoro or Bukhara) with its sights and its pleasant atmosphere.
We have put together the best Bukhara sights for you , which you can visit in two days.
As always, at the end of our article you will find some general information about the city as well as hotel and restaurant tips.
BUKHARA SIGHTSEEING – DAY 1
On your first day in Bukhara, the absolute highlights are waiting to be discovered by you. Most of them are close to each other in the center, so you can easily visit them on foot.
1ST CHORUS MINOR
Chor Minor is rightly one of the most beautiful Bukhara sights and offers you a great photo opportunity. The beautiful building with its rather rare architecture was built in 1807. It was the gatehouse of an old madrasah . It’s a bit out of the way from the rest of Bukhara attractions, but you can still walk there.
Today the building is a listed building and is part of the historical center of Bukhara. This is now a world heritage site. The Persian name “Chor Minor” means “four towers”.
Today there is a souvenir shop inside. By the way, you will come across this at many sights in Uzbekistan.
For a few cents you can climb onto the roof and see the pretty domes of the towers up close. And enjoy the view over the city.
2. KO’KALDOSH MEDRESSE
The madrasah is part of the Labi Hovuz building complex and is located in the center of Bukhara. It was built in 1569. It is therefore the oldest building in the Labi Hovuz ensemble.
The Soviets used the building as a hotel, for example one of the halls served as a cinema. Today, cultural dance and music events take place in the typical inner courtyard . Here you can get an insight into the traditions of the Uzbeks.
The events are quite touristy and many tour groups come here. But we think that the visit is still worth it. The dance performances were particularly impressive.
3. STATUE OF CHODSCHA NASREDDIN (THE PICARESQUE PRANKS OF NASREDDIN)
From Italy to India, Nasreddin is known for his picaresque pranks. His jokes are a mixture of cunning, folk wisdom, sometimes suggestive, sometimes cunning, and sometimes a little silly.
He is roughly comparable to the Baron von Münchhausen or Till Eulenspiegel. The bronze statue, erected in 1979, shows Nasreddin in traditional clothing on his donkey and is probably one of the most photographed landmarks in Bukhara.
The statue stands in front of the Ko’kaldosh madrasah in a pretty park. It serves as a good meeting point and it’s fun to watch people take photos here.
4. THE LABI HOVUZ (LYABI-HAUZ) ENSEMBLE
Life in Bukhara pulsates around the Labi Hovuz, an artificially created pond. You can stroll, sit down in one of the restaurants or just watch the people.
Here is also the park with the statue of Nasreddin, the Ko’kaldosh and the Nodir-Devonbegi madrasah and the Nodir-Devonbegi Chanaqa. By the way, a Chanaqa is a center of the Sufi brotherhood .
There used to be a lot of such ponds in Bukhara and other cities of Uzbekistan. At that time they served as a water reservoir for the residents. In the 1920s and 1930s, however, almost all of them were drained because they encouraged the spread of disease.
Unfortunately, as the ponds dried up, the storks that were native to Uzbek cities also disappeared. In some cities you can still find old nests or figures on the domes of madrasas and mosques as a reminder of the storks.
5. TOQI SARROFON BAZAAR
Bukhara was an important city on the Silk Road. The Toqi Sarrofon dome from the end of the 16th century was mainly used for changing money.
Here merchants, mostly from India and China, exchanged their money for foreign currencies that they needed on their further journey along the Silk Road.
The bazaar also got its name from the money changers, the “sarrafs”. Today it’s just fun to walk through the historic walls and look at the goods on offer such as silk scarves, paintings, elaborate gold embroidery and carpets.
From the outside, too, the bazaar with its many small and large domes is a special Bukhara sight.
6. MAG’OKI ATTORI MOSQUE
The impressive mosque was built in the 9th century, making it one of the oldest surviving mosques in all of Central Asia. It is also one of the few buildings in the city that date back to before the Mongol storm and is still preserved today.
The Mongol invasion in the 13th century completely devastated numerous cities in Uzbekistan and throughout Central Asia. So little has been preserved from the time before.
A pre-Islamic temple stood on the site of the mosque before it was built. The name of the mosque literally means “the deep mosque”, because its floor is a good 4.5 meters below normal street level.
Today the building houses a carpet museum. We didn’t look at that though. Please leave us a comment as to whether it is worth it.
7. TOQI TELPAK FURUSHON BAZAAR
Another exciting dome bazaar. At the time of its creation at the end of the 16th century, books were sold here. The bazaar was therefore also called Toqi Kitob – “Kitob” means “book” in Uzbek.
Over time, the book stands disappeared, and hat sellers expanded with their shops and workshops. Turbans, fur hats and embroidered caps were made and sold.
They are still offered here, but now you will mainly find carpets, souvenirs, musical instruments, knives and jewels here.
8. TIM ABDULLAH KHAN
What would the Silk Road be without carpets! And here you are, so to speak, in the carpet mecca. Ein Tim is a shopping arcade and it has been selling carpets since 1577.
Under the rule of the future Khan Abdullah II, trade boomed so that the streets were constantly overflowing and clogged with stalls and merchants.
Then Abdullah had this passage laid out and assigned each merchant his own, fixed place.
The interior of the domes used to be splendidly painted, which was only recently discovered. In the Soviet era everything was whitewashed here. In some places, however, the paintings have already been exposed and you get an impression of the earlier painting.
9. MASTER CRAFTSMAN’S WORKSHOP & ART WORKSHOP
If you stroll from Tim Abdullah Khan towards Toqi Zargaron Bazaar, you will pass the shop of the knife and armorer Sayfullo Ikramov on your right .
It is worth a visit here, because the master is internationally known and supplies gunsmiths all over the world with his popular damask blanks.
But be careful , if you want to buy something and are still taking the express train from Samarkand: Here you have to go through a security check and there the weapons will most likely be taken from you. It’s best to ask your guide again or on site.
Diagonally across from Sayfullo’s workshop you will find a studio that has mastered the art of gold embroidery. You can also take a look here.
With a little luck you can watch them at work. There are also great embroidered clothes, carpets and scarves to admire.
10. TOQI ZARGARON BAZAAR
The beautiful building with its many domes is the largest bazaar in Bukhara.
It was built in 1586, making it one of the city’s oldest bazaars. Originally there were over thirty shops and workshops of goldsmiths and jewelers here.
Mainly jewelry and seals were made and sold. Although you can still buy them here today, you can also buy everything else here. Just let yourself go, browse the stalls and chat with the sellers.
11. ABDULAZIZ KHAN MADRASA – BUKHARA SIGHTSEEING
The madrasah was “only” built in 1652. It is almost 250 younger than the Ulug’bek madrasa opposite it, but surpasses it by far in terms of decor.
The rooms and the inner courtyard are adorned with many elements – from carved marble to brick mosaic to carved ceramics.
Like most madrasas, it has a square floor plan with an inner courtyard from which individual living cells extend. The students were housed here.
The entrance portal is particularly splendid with its detailed patterns and decorations.
12. ULUG’BEK MADRASA
It is exactly opposite the Abdulaziz Khan Madrasa. The madrasah was completed in 1417, making it not only the oldest preserved madrasah in Central Asia, but also one of the most beautiful highlights in Bukhara.
It does not need a lot of decoration and frills, but is still impressive. The 80 students who found space here at that time studied astronomy, mathematics, Arabic and religion. Many of the graduates became eminent scientists or poets.
13. POI KALON ENSEMBLE & MIR-ARAB-MADRASA – TOP BUKHARA SIGHTS
The Poi Kalon Ensemble consists of four monuments and is the absolute Buchara highlight . It consists of two madrasas, a mosque and an impressive minaret, which is also the symbol of Bukhara .
The construction of the minaret began as early as the 12th century and is therefore one of the oldest structures of this type. The minaret could previously be climbed, but unfortunately it is now closed to the public.
The most important of these buildings is the Mir-Arab Madrasah, which is an absolute gem of 16th century architecture. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to visit the inner courtyard, because the madrasah is still an Islamic university today.
Tip: There is a restaurant with a roof terrace across from Poi Kalon Square. From up here you have a fantastic view of the square. In the afternoon, the light is particularly beautiful and you can watch the colors change from minute to minute with a drink.
Sooo, now your first day with an incredible number of impressions of the first Bukhara sights is already over. End the evening in one of the many good restaurants and stroll through the bazaars in the dark.
BUKHARA SIGHTSEEING – DAY 2
After you have already processed the impressions of your first day in Bukhara, you can continue with the second day of your exploration tour. Today there are also some sightseeing outside the city. Here we go!
14. BAHA-UD-DIN NAQSHBAND BOKHARI MEMORIAL COMPLEX
12 kilometers east of the city is the memorial in honor of the Islamic saint Baha-du-din Naqshband, who lived from 1318-1389.
He was a famous philosopher and Sufi and founded the largest Sufi Muslim order, that of the Naqshbandi. His mausoleum is now a Central Asian Mecca , Muslims from many countries make pilgrimages here.
Baha-ud-Din Naqshband did 32 Hajj to Mecca. Sufis believe that if they go from Bukhara to his mausoleum three times, it is equivalent to a hajj.
They come together here and pray, asking for forgiveness for their sins and for the fulfillment of their desires.
15. SITORAI MOHI XOSA PALACE – TOP BUKHARA ATTRACTIONS
This summer palace of the last emir Amir Khan is four kilometers north of Bukhara. The name Sitorai Mohi Xosa literally means “place where the moon and stars meet”.
The palace consists of two parts: an old palace from 1892 and the new one from 1917. Highlights of the new palace are the White Hall, in which the walls are covered with mirrors, and the gazebos.
There is also a harem building on the premises. Today there are museums in the buildings with various exhibits such as elaborately embroidered carpets and clothing from that time.
We found the entrance hall with the artistic wall paintings particularly impressive. The palace is a worthwhile Bukhara sight, as you get to know another architecture here.
16. QO’SH MADRASA
This complex consists of two individual madrasahs, which face each other and were built in quick succession – namely in 1566 and 1590.
Both are breathtakingly beautiful, with the typical blue and turquoise decor and impressive arches.
17. NECROPOLIS CHOR BAKR
The unique memorial complex five kilometers west of Bukhara was built in the 16th century. It is also called the “City of the Dead” and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Buried here is none other than Abu Bakr Said, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, who was also considered the founder of the Juybari dynasty. At that time it had a strong influence on religious and political life in Bukhara.
Later, Chor Bakr was expanded to include more mausoleums of famous people, madrasas and a mosque. The buildings are arranged in such a way that they form a harmonious square in their center.
18. SAMANID MAUSOLEUM & SAMONIDS RECREATION PARK
The mausoleum was built as a family crypt by his father at the end of the 9th century immediately after the death of the influential Amir Ismail Samanis.
What is exciting is the fact that at that time it was actually forbidden to build crypts under Islamic law. The mausoleum is considered to be one of the most respected works of Central Asian architecture .
It survived the invasion of Genghis Khan and was only rediscovered by a Soviet archaeologist in 1934. Over the centuries it was completely sunk in the soft sandy soil.
The building is located in the middle of a beautifully landscaped park, which also has an amusement park from the Soviet era.
19. CHASHMAI AYUB MAUSOLEUM
The complex is located in the heart of Bukhara, was built in the 12th century and consists of the mausoleum and a holy spring. Today it also houses a water museum, which is quite interesting. Especially since it addresses the disappearance of the Aral Sea. It has four rooms, each of which is crowned with a dome.
The mausoleum is inextricably linked with the legend of the prophet Job . In the past, Bukhara was hit by desert winds and the residents suffered badly from the drought. They prayed to Allah for a miracle and he heard them.
When the prophet Job was on a journey through Bukhara, he struck the ground with his staff and healing water sprang up. The spring saved the city and its inhabitants.
20. KOLKHOZNYY RYNOK & TSENTRAL’NYY RYNOK
The central market of Bukhara is the oldest and largest in the city. It is roofed with impressive domes, around which many shops settled in the 16th century.
Today, in addition to groceries, you can also get handmade carpets, embroidered tablecloths, self-spun blankets, folk instruments, nationally typical toys, dishes or jewelry.
Let yourself go and discover Uzbek life! We love the markets in Uzbekistan, they have such great fruits and vegetables. And stands with nuts of all kinds. We always stocked up on different types of almonds and apricot kernels , delicious!
21. BOLO HOVUZ MOSQUE – BUKHARA SIGHTS
The mosque built in the center is particularly photogenic because it is reflected in the water basin directly in front of it. Incidentally, the basin is older than the mosque itself. Like all the others, it was created artificially.
As mentioned, most of them were drained again in the 1920s and 1930s because they were believed to spread diseases such as cholera.
The mosque with its spectacular pillars was built in 1712 and was used as the main Friday mosque before the revolution. Even today it is actively used as a mosque again.
22. ARK FORTRESS
The huge fortress is the symbol of the state power in Bukhara. The citadel has been in this exact location since the 4th century BC.
In addition to being a military establishment, the fortress also encompassed a city inhabited by various royal courts that ruled the Bukhara region.
The complex was used as a fortress until it fell to Russia in 1920. Today the fortress is a popular Bukhara sight and houses various museums on the history of the city and the country.
23. BUKHARA OBSERVATION TOWER
Directly opposite the fortress is a water tower built by the Soviets in 1920. It was used as such until 1975, when it was so badly damaged in a fire that the tank could no longer be repaired.
Today you can climb all the way up for a few euros and enjoy the spectacular view of the fortress and the city. This sight is particularly impressive in the evening light.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT BUKHARA
Bukhara (also often spelled Buxoro or Bukhara), with its almost 275,000 inhabitants, is located around 570 kilometers west of the Uzbek capital Tashkent and is one of the holiest cities in all of Central Asia.
The buildings look back on a thousand-year history, so the city is also one of the best places in Central Asia to get a taste of pre-Russian Turkestan. The city center is very special because it has always been inhabited and has hardly changed in the last two centuries.
We liked Bukhara incredibly well, it’s quite cozy here and the city center is wonderful to stroll and enjoy. You can plan two days here to visit all Bukhara sights in a relaxed way.
BUKHARA HOTEL TIPS
KOMIL BUKHARA BOUTIQUE HOTEL
The Komil was our accommodation in Bukhara. The staff is super nice and helpful and you can walk to the city center in five minutes.
The hotel has a nice inner courtyard, the rooms are spacious and designed in the style typical of the country. A special highlight is the breakfast room with great wall paintings from the 19th century.
➜ This way to the hotel: Komil Bukhara Boutique Hotel
HOTEL FATIMA BOUTIQUE
The newly renovated hotel is located in the middle of the historical center on the square of Labi Hauz and is therefore particularly suitable for a tour of discovery through Bukhara.
There is a bar and a restaurant where breakfast is served. In the evening you can sit comfortably in the inner courtyard and review the day.
➜ This way to the hotel: Hotel Fatima Boutique
From Old Bukhara you can walk to the main Bukhara sights. Above all, the hotel impresses with its excellent service: you can rent bicycles, there is an ATM and an exchange office.
One of the highlights of the hotel is the terrace, where you can have a leisurely breakfast or end the evening.
➜ This way to the hotel: Old Bukhara
HOTEL VOLIDA BOUTIQUE
The Volida Boutique is one of the most popular hotels in Bukhara for a reason. You can strengthen yourself with the rich breakfast buffet in the hotel’s own restaurant. The hotel offers an airport shuttle, currency exchange and bicycle rental.
The large terrace invites you to chat and linger. Thanks to the central location in the old town, you can reach the most important sights on foot.
➜ This way to the hotel: Hotel Volida Boutique
BUKHARA RESTAURANTS TIPS
OLD BUKHARA RESTAURANT
We liked the restaurant best. The tables are in a beautiful, cozy inner courtyard with trees and there is also a rooftop area. In the background, typical music plays quietly while you enjoy the Uzbek specialties.
The menu includes, for example, chicken skewers, Greek salad, lamb with potatoes, moussaka, hummus or fish.
The restaurant impresses with its cozy terrace with a fantastic view of the Mir-i-Arab and Kalon mosques.
The menu features traditional dishes such as plov (rice with onions and meat), chorba (soup with lamb) or laghman (lamb, vegetables and noodles).
Due to the great location, the Chasmai-Mirob is very popular with tourists. No wonder, because the food tastes even better with this spectacular view!
The popular restaurant is always well attended and has a pleasant atmosphere for lunch or dinner. Here, too, there are typical Uzbek dishes such as lamb or chicken skewers and fresh salads.
CAFÉ WISHBONE BUKHARA
The German owner provides the best coffee in town. Incidentally, the Wishbone was the first real café in Bukhara that sold real coffee beans, otherwise there was only instant coffee.
Of course, good coffee also includes good cakes, and they are available here too! If you’re feeling hungry, there are sandwiches and for a refreshment there is gazpacho or iced coffee. The best place to take a break from sightseeing for yourself and your tired feet!
BUKHARA SHOPPING TIPS
Here you will find beautifully embroidered towels, carpets and other textiles. You can also learn about silk making and the work of silk embroidery.
The special thing about Suzani’s workshop: an entire village works for the business, especially women who can make a living in this way.
GUNSMITH SAYFULLO IKRAMOV
As already described in the text, a visit to Sayfullo is worthwhile. Here you will find artfully forged knives but also another typical Bukhara souvenir, scissors with a stork handle.
MINIATURE PAINTING BY FERUZ TEMUROV
We have developed a ritual, so to speak, during our numerous travels. We bring pictures or paintings for us at home from almost every travel destination.
Each painting thus has its very special style and character of the respective country. We see them every day and keep reminding ourselves of the country and the moment of purchase. In addition, pictures take up little space, which is pretty good if you only travel with hand luggage.
We stocked up on pictures by Feruz Temurov, who paints wonderful miniatures on the subject of the Silk Road. He has already had exhibitions in Austria and Switzerland, and maybe he will come to Germany soon.
You can find his tiny shop coming from Labi Hovuz right in front of the entrance to the Toqi Sarrofon Bazaar on the left.
EVENTS IN BUKHARA
Maybe you can take the city’s most famous event into account when planning your trip to Uzbekistan. The Silk and Spices Festival , held annually in May, celebrates the cultural heritage and folk art of Uzbekistan.
Traditional bands from different regions of Uzbekistan perform on three days, there are original games and sports, tastings of typical dishes and even a fashion show by young Uzbek designers.
The festival would also like to support the local craftsmen in the areas of carpet weaving, wood carving, weaving or gold embroidery – visit them at one of their stands. The highlight of the festival are the colorful parades and processions in which the Uzbeks present themselves in their most beautiful clothes.
If you manage to be in town at the time of the Silk and Spices Festival, you can get to know a completely different side of Bukhara. Suddenly it is not just buildings and architecture that are the focus of your journey, but rather the people, their culture and the things that make them what they are.
A perfect opportunity to go a little deeper and get to know the city and its wonderful people better.