We have the honour to introduce the Republic of Uzbekistan – a country with centuries-old history and at the same time a young independent state which appeared on the world’s political map only 19 years ago. For less than two decades Uzbekistan has been following the path of independence and democratic reforms, and within these years the country has taken a worthy place in the international community as a state which consistently develops economy, science, culture, many-sided cooperation with numerous foreign countries.
As is generally known, in many countries of the world tourism is the most rapidly developing sector of economy. International experts believe that in the 21st century this industry will not only retain but will enhance its rates of growth. Uzbekistan is no exception: though tourism industry in our country is rather young it outstrips many other sectors of economy.
From 1993 Uzbekistan is a member of UNWTO; it possesses huge potential for development of international tourism and has rich traditions of trade, economic and cultural cooperation with many countries of the world. These traditions root deep into the past, when in the 2nd millennium BCE trade developed on the ancient caravan trails known in history as the Great Silk Road. Alongside with initiating the trade between East and West, this transcontinental arterial road promoted the development and interpenetration of traditions, customs, cultures, craftsmanship, religions. Getting to know, understanding each other, the world nations advanced. On the crossroads of the Silk Road there lay the territory of modern Uzbekistan and the Great Silk Road left us invaluable material and spiritual legacy. For all those who would like to visit our country there is much to see and to marvel at in Uzbekistan. Unique historical and architectural monuments, wealth and diversity of wildlife, century-old craftsmanship traditions, wise traditions and joyful festivities of Uzbek people. All this is the heritage of both Uzbekistan and the whole mankind. By now there have been included into the UNESCO World Heritage List such historical sites as Ichan-Kala urban complex in Khiva, historical centres of Bukhara and Shakhrisabz, historical monuments of ancient Samarkand. These sites are under the protection of world community.
Having acquired independence, Uzbekistan has worked out cardinally new principles of state policy in tourism sphere, entrusted with the task of tourism state policy implementation and formation of national model of tourism development.
Tourism resources of Uzbekistan allow for development of all types of tourism and for playing host to tourists year round. Among many types of tourism, religious and pilgrimage tourism takes a special place. At all times the ancient land of present-day Uzbekistan – the major crossroads of the Silk Road routes for thousands of years – was the place where various beliefs and religions came into being and evolved in harmony with each other.
Today Uzbekistan with its numerous ancient monuments, rich nature, and the present-day rapid progress attracts the whole world's attention. For centuries the country was at the intersection of the Great Silk Road routes along which merchants, geographers, missionaries, and later tourists traveled. It is striking how the history, traditions and cultures of the nationalities populating the present-day Uzbekistan have been entangled with the history of Great Silk Road.
Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Shakhrizabs, where cultural and spiritual values had been long since concentrated, outstanding scientific centers and schools were established, architecture, craftsmanship, and applied art were flourishing, played the role of main urban centres. Creative work and various scientific achievements of the local scientists, thinkers, and poets have proved to be a valuable contribution to the development of the world civilization. Abu Ali ibn Sino, al-Khorezmiy, Mirzo Ulugbek, Bakhouddin Nakshband, al-Bukhoriy, at-Termeziy, Abu Raikhon Beruniy, Alisher Navoiy - this is but a short list of names of prominent figures of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan today is the country where thousands-old antiquity exists in harmony with modern civilization. Harmonious correlation of times is seen everywhere. Ancient monuments, Old Town houses made of adobe bricks stand next to many-storied sky scraping buildings constructed in accordance with the unique designs worked out by architects of the 20th century. The traditions of the people are being carefully preserved.
Arts and crafts have been developing here throughout the centuries; their secrets have been passed from generation to generation as great treasure. The unique works of unknown masters strike you dumb by the flight of fancy. In the present-day Uzbekistan traditional cultural values are being treated with great care, the state supports revival of the arts and crafts, contributing to their further development. Uzbek ceramics, embossing, wood carving, golden embroidery, carpets, varnished miniature, jewelry are well known far outside our country.
The dishes of National Uzbek cuisine are notable not only for their practicability but for certain skills required for their cooking. Unique Uzbek pilaf, aromatic transparent shurpa (soup), juicy manti made of dough bags and meat, shashlyk with its smack of smoke and spices are famous all over the world. It would be unthinkable to have a dastarkhan (table-cloth) without greens, vegetables, fruit, sun-fed melons and bunches of grapes. Melting on the tongue sweets, nuts and almonds cooked by grandmother's recipes complement the dastarkhan. Green tea is a favorite drink of the Uzbeks. It quenches thirst on a sultry day.
Uzbekistan is truly an amazing land with original national culture where the heritage of ancient times is being carefully preserved and a society with modern economy and developed science and art is being simultaneously built.
In the present-day Uzbekistan a lot is being done so as to restore the unique monuments - witnesses of the country's past; owing to these programs of restoration and preservation work many of these monuments have been given second birth. National Air Carrier “Uzbekistan Airways” and National Company “Uzbektourism” provides travelers with the opportunity of visiting these places and touching the pulse of history.
Egypt and Greece, Mexico and Australia, India and Japan and many other exotic destinations lure travelers from all over the world. Among such destinations Uzbekistan holds a special place and has all the rights to claim the title of "tourist Mecca". What makes Uzbekistan an object of desire of modern travelers?
· It is the heart of the Great Silk Road – an ancient highway that was connecting East and West for two thousands years (2nd century BCE – 16th century CE).
Hundreds of years ago caravans crossed the vast areas of Central Asia, overcoming mountain ranges, rivers, and sandy dunes of deserts in hope of exchanging their goods – silk for gold and precious stones, ivory and corals for fur and bronze arms. Along the trails of the Great Silk Road there sprang up and prospered such cities as Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva. They offered to merchants and pilgrims, exhausted from long journey, not only shelter but also means of transport – horses and camels as well as a range of commercial services: huge bazaars, bargains mediation and money loans.
· It is centuries-old history imprinted in beautiful creations of ancient architects, in shrines of bygone civilizations.
Majestic and unique in their beauty are the palaces, madrassahs, mausoleums, and minarets of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and Shakhrisabz; wrapped in mystery are the Buddhist temples and monasteries of Termez and Zoroastrian shrines of ancient Khorezm. These silent witnesses of many important events are ready to tell a keen traveler the truth about deeds and heroes of bygone times. The ancient architectural monuments of Samarkand, Bukhara, Shahrisabz, and Khiva are unique and their historical centers are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List; they are under patronage of the world community.
· It is a spiritual heritage that amazes everyone with the genius of its scientists, diversity of culture, originality of handicrafts whose traditions are passed from generation to generation.
Traveling through Uzbekistan a tourist has the opportunity to visit the world famous centers of theology and science, to get to know the creations of great poets of the past, and to watch the creation of a real masterpiece by skillful hands of a ceramist in Rishtan or Gijduvan, or embroiderer at Bukhara’s gold embroidery factory, or blacksmith in Chust where from the ancient times the world- famous knives were made. In the workshops of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, tourists can learn about secrets of making miniatures, stucco and wood painting and carving and carpet weaving. And above all, all these things are produced in your presence and you can buy then on the spot.
· It is unique nature where boundless sandy deserts abut on multicolor Alpine meadows, snowy mountaintops and fertile valleys gladdening the eye with plentiful fruit gardens and vineyards.
An urban city dweller who is tired of civilization can find here exotic routes full of thrills. Among them is camel safari through the Kyzyl-Kum desert with its chain of drifting sand barchans, here and there overgrown with camel’s-thorn, or magic evening spent near a campfire to the sounds of old Karakalpak chant, or an overnight in a real yurt.
· It is people who have always been renowned for their love of freedom and courage, great hospitality and generosity.
An Uzbek proverb says: "A guest in the house is joy in the house!" Hospitality is a main quality of character of people who live in Uzbekistan. No matter where you stay – in a large megapolis such as Tashkent or in a small kishlak (village) in the middle of a desert, you can always expect a hearty welcome.
· It is original national traditions.
Even the most fastidious gourmand will hardly remain indifferent to Uzbek national cuisine with its abundance of spices, vegetables and fruits. The real feast of flavors is often supplemented with a feast for the soul because during the meals guests have the opportunity to get to know national music art of Uzbekistan. Local musicians will fascinate you with tender lyric tunes and then you will be cheered up by fast and dazzling dance. So an ordinary repast initially meant for appeasing your hunger turns into a ceremony reflecting national cultural traditions.
· It is a developed tourism industry which meets world standards.
Today one doesn’t need to spend years, as it had been at the time of Marco Polo, in order to get to the dream destination. International Airlines including those operated by Uzbekistan Airways fly to and from major cities of many countries and in a few hours can bring you to the heart of the Great Silk Road. Life flows and changes. The times when horses and camels were used as means of transport became a thing of the past. They are replaced by high-speed buses with air-conditioners, bars and TV system. Instead of old caravanserais beautiful modern hotels welcome travelers. Nowadays the hospitality business of Uzbekistan is represented by world-known hotel chains such as Inter-Continental, Radisson SAS, Dedeman as well as a number of private hotels where each visitor is treated as the owner’s personal guest who is welcomed with cordial smile and surrounded with pleasant homelike environment.
· It is a modern secular state- an equal member of the World Community.
Today ancient and new Uzbekistan lives a full life and as many centuries ago stays the center of the Great Silk Road warmly welcoming all those who would like to get to know the great inheritance left to the human race.
And still, why Uzbekistan?
On board the plane flying from Tashkent to New York two elderly women were talking. One of them said, “Who would ever have thought that this country could have such a great appeal”. Her words sounded a bit bizarre, but sincere. The country she meant was Uzbekistan. One cannot help agreeing with her. There are at least 10 aspects of the appeal which account for the reason why a person with an inquiring mind and plenty of spare time, but still hesitant as to how to spend it, should visit Uzbekistan.
Aspect #1: You will open up for yourself ancient history and unique culture of the country you haven’t been to before. This country is located between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya rivers in the very heart of Central Asia, half way along the famous Great Silk Road.
Aspect #2: You will familiarize yourself with a lifestyle rather distinct from the one you got used to, and will experience traditions and customs which most likely will win your respect.
Aspect #3: Visiting Uzbekistan, which is the ‘heart’ of the Great Silk Road, you will learn much about this ancient caravan road that connected East and West more than two thousand years ago: its origin, its great role in the mankind’s history. You will get evidence that due to the efforts of world community and with assistance of UNO the Great Silk Road is being revived in order to continue its consolidating role in the development of the humanity.
Aspect #4: You will be able to travel through the centuries while visiting ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz and many others. Today on the territory of Uzbekistan there remain more than 1400 historical and architectural monuments. Many of them are really unique and are included into the UNESCO World Heritage List. Having visited them once you will never forget everlasting beauty of their ancient palaces and minarets, mausoleums and madrassahs. Today, like in ancient times, the narrow streets of historical part of these cities are lined with workshops of local craftsmen whose craft traditions have been passed from generation to generation. To your order, in the small workshop they will make splendid jewelry, or exquisite embossed copper jug, a porcelain dish, elegant embroidery, a noted Uzbek knife-pechok. It will become a memorable keepsake about your visit to Uzbekistan.
Aspect #5: Many historical monuments of Uzbekistan date back to the Middle Ages, to the times of Temurids. Born in Shakhrisabz, Temur made Samarkand the capital of his mighty state Movarounnahr. The envoys from many European countries came to his court in search of friendship and support. Visiting Uzbekistan you’ll be able to turn back the pages of history which tell about this outstanding statesman and military leader.
Aspect #6: In Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, you will get evidence of how harmonious the synthesis of European and Oriental tendencies can be, how naturally ancient historical buildings and best examples of contemporary architecture can coexist, how rich and eventful the life of the gigantic megapolis is. Theatres, museums, sport centers, restaurants, night clubs, out-of-town recreation and entertainment centers – here everyone can realize his inclinations and interests.
Aspect #7: Within few days of your stay in Uzbekistan you’ll be able to travel from sand dunes of the desert to snow-capped mountains, from tugai woodland to alpine meadows and fertile river valleys. You will see glaciers and karst caves with underground lakes and waterfalls, you will familiarize yourself with unique flora and fauna of Uzbekistan.
Aspect #8: Having heard much about oriental hospitality you will have the opportunity to actually experience hospitality at its best. Each guest can expect the warmest and heartfelt welcome to all we have. In a brand-name restaurant or in a modest Uzbek house you will be welcomed with lavish culinary delights; the hosts will invite musicians and dancers for you. You will participate in folk festivity, enjoy the contest of local strongmen, will emotionally support your favorite player in the national equestrian game ulak.
Aspect #9: You will be impressed by abundance and diversity of Uzbek cuisine dishes. Shashlyk and manty, lagman and shurpa, roast meat, mampyr, stuffed pumpkin, various vegetable salads. And, of course, the king of Uzbek cuisine – plov. Each region of Uzbekistan features its own unique recipe of this Oriental favorite dish. The recipes of delicious Uzbek dishes to be put into your notebook are many.
And finally, Aspect #10: if after all the above you still have some doubts regarding the attractiveness of Uzbekistan, you can apply directly to Uzbektourism or our branches and our friendly and highly professional specialists will do their best to provide you with the most complete and vivid impressions of our country.