A country in the heart of Central Asia

Welcome to Uzbekistan!

Welcome to Uzbekistan!

Posted by Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel on Sunday, September 27, 2020
The video and the photo are courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel

Little do we, Israelis, know about a country in the heart of Central Asia called Uzbekistan. I say ‘we’ since it’s been 15 years since I live in Israel and see my motherland only in my dreams. ‘Ah, it’s one of those ‘-stans’!’ Tell me my local friends when I answer a simple question of where I am from. And then they begin to count: ‘Kazakhstan, Afghanistan…’. ‘No, not Afghanistan!’ – I have to say. And they smile and I hear something like ‘Anyway, nice to meet you’.
So, being an Israeli I don’t hear and read much about Uzbekistan in the press. But I want to hear and read more. Do you? I recall the beautiful nature, the warm and kind people, the delicious food and the breathtaking ancient unique architecture and I think the answer might be ‘yes’.
130 nations live in peace in that amazing land – Russians, Jews, Koreans, Greeks, Germans, Tartars, and many, many others.
“The breadbasket of the country,” they told one to another as they fled the wars, the pogroms, and political persecution in search of shelter and food.
And Uzbekistan took in them all not asking their names, adopting the children that were left without parents. A melting pot formed by many nations forced to leave their homes.
Nowadays 2.2 thousand religious organizations of 16 different confessions exist in Uzbekistan.
My grandparents fled to Tashkent and stayed to live their life there. I am the representative of the second generation born in Uzbekistan.
Many of us live in different countries now, scattered all over the globe, but I know that each of us keeps the warmest memories of the motherland. How do I know that? Because we stay in touch and share our memories when we talk. We left the country but the country doesn’t leave us. It stays in us bringing out the best of what it could offer.
Thus, what makes Uzbekistan so special from the geographical point of view that has attracted so many people from around the world?
For centuries, the country enjoyed being 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 present-day Uzbekistan have been entangled with the history of the Great Silk Road.
The cities of 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 arts were flourishing, nowadays play the role of main urban centers.
Creative work and various achievements of the local scientists, thinkers, and poets have proved to be a valuable contribution to the development of world civilization. Abu Ali ibn Sino, known in the West as Avicenna, al-Khorezmiy, Mirzo Ulugbek, Bakhouddin Naqshband, al-Bukhari, at-Termeziy, Abu Raikhon Biruni, Alisher Navoi – this is but a shortlist of names of prominent figures of Uzbekistan.
Tashkent, the capital of present-day Uzbekistan, is one of the biggest cities of Central Asia and is not for nothing called “Star of the Orient” and “Messenger of Peace”. These names amazingly reflect the very essence of the city, which for more than 20 centuries has been symbolically illuminating with the light of peace and kindness the lives of both its inhabitants and the road for travelers.
Tashkent is rich in archaeological monuments. None of the Central Asian towns has been studied so thoroughly by scientists as the capital of Uzbekistan.
Only ten years ago there were 39 known archaeological monuments on the territory of the city, whereas today there have been excavated more than 240 monuments.
In the past, Tashkent had different names: Yuni, Chach, Shash, Binkent. Its present name was first introduced in the 11th century works by Biruni and Makhmud al-Kashgari.
The architectural look of old Tashkent has been developing for centuries, both under the influence of many-sided Oriental culture and as well as due to natural factors.
The urge for ways to protect from the hot climate and earthquakes gave rise to peculiar know-hows in construction. That’s how there appeared interesting types of dwellings with covered yards and sliding shutters “keshgarcha”. Residential areas with a maze of narrow alleys formed the environment for standing out mosques, madrassahs, and mazars (cemeteries).
Uzbekistan, where monuments of ancient cultures of different ages are concentrated, is rightly called a treasury of history. Ichan-Kala complex in Khiva, historical centers of Bukhara, Shakhrizabs, and Samarkand are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Many unique monuments and architectural constructions in these cities have remained in a good state up to the present day and are of great significance to mankind.

There is so much to talk about the place that I won’t even try to put it all in one entry.

The photo is courtesy of the Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel
About the Author
Nadezhda Dukhovny was born and raised in Uzbekistan and made aliya in 2005. She holds an MA in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University and works in translation. She has a true interest about her motherland and would like to tell more about that fascinating country to make Israeli readers familiar with another culture from other part of the globe.
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