Modern-day Samarkand is just that – modern. It has all the accoutrements of a sophisticated 21st century city: high-rise buildings, electricity that doesn’t go off everytime you need it, petrol stations with petrol AND bowsers to deliver said petrol, ATMs that work, public transport that doesn’t smell like vomit or chook poo. All-in-all, a very pleasant and civilised place to be. It seemed light-years away from Tajikistan in every respect and yet I had only travelled a few hundred kilometres.
Modern it may be but at Samarkand’s heart, both literally and metaphorically, lies the Registan. What can I say about the Registan that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before – and probably more eloquently. No other building (or buildings – there are three separate buildings in the complex) exemplifies Samarkand majestic past than the architectural masterpiece of the Registan.
Samarkand has an immense history. It can rightly claim, along with Rome and Istanbul, to be one of the truly great cities of human civilisation. In 2007, it celebrated its 2750th birthday!