For many, many years the wonder and mystery of silk was unknown to most of the world. It was not until the expansion of the Roman Empire that silk was introduced to the world at large. As the Romans conquered surrounding territories, they came in contact with silk, and were instantly fascinated with its soft texture and attractiveness. Silk soon became one of the most sought-after products in the Roman Empire, and the Romans began searching for the place where this amazing cloth was made. This led to the discovery of the Silk Road, a series of interconnected routes within China and Eastern Asia that were used for trading and travel between the various civilizations. The Silk Road soon came to be one of the primary routes between Western Europe and Asia, and within Asia itself.
At Go Russia, we offer a tour of the incredible cities and landscapes along the Silk Road, including areas of China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Let’s explore some of the amazing destinations along this tour.
Some of the most ancient cities in the world are located along the Silk Road, including Samarkand, Merv, Khiva, Bukhara, and Bishkek. One of the first stops along the route will be the ancient city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan. Samarkand has been placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List because of its importance as one of the central locations along the Silk Road. Because of the many different cultures that passed through the city on their way to and from China, Samarkand became home to many different religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Today, the main religion of the inhabitants is Islam, and some of the most significant architecture in Muslim history can be found there. The city still hangs on to its ancient roots, with the practices of embroidery, weaving, and ceramics still an important part of daily life.
One of the next stops along the tour is the city of Bukhara, one of the seven holiest Islamic cities in the world. This too is one of the oldest cities in the world, with its location along the Silk Road making it a center of culture, trade, and religion. The entire city can be seen as one giant museum, with its many, many exquisite examples of Muslim architecture. Its ancient mosques and minarets transfer you back into time, when this city was a central hub for the many travelers along the Silk Road in search of silk and other valuable materials from the East.
Later on in the tour will bring us to the city of Dunhuang in the Gansu province of Western China. With evidence of inhabitance dating back to 2,000 B.C., this city is one of the oldest in the world. It was a critical defensive city in China, with the Great Wall of China extending down to the city, as well as an important stop along the Silk Road. Located in the Gobi Desert, the city was an important stop along the Silk Road, as it is situated by an oasis, which would give the Silk Road travellers a welcome respite from the harsh desert landscape.
One of the most fascinating sites in the countryside around Dunhuang are the Mogao Caves or Mogao Grottoes. These are a series of caves that house one of the most important and largest collections of Buddhist history, spanning nine Chinese dynasties; the collection includes statues, manuscripts, and wall paintings. Because of a strict ban on photography in the Magao Caves, the only way to actually lay eyes on this history is to actually visit the caves themselves. On our Silk Road tour, we will spend a day visiting the caves and exploring the amazing historical collection.
Another fascinating sight nearby to Dunhuang is a collection of sand dunes called the “rumbling” or “singing” sand dunes, which is derived from the sound that is made as the wind passes over the dunes. The reason for the noise remains a mystery, which adds to the mystique and aura of the area. The dunes overlook a beautiful body of water called the Crescent Lake, creating a striking landscape that contrasts with the surrounding desert.
We’ve only touched the surface of all the amazing cities and landscapes along our tour of the Silk Road. These places spark the imagination and give a rich sense of the incredible history in this part of the world. Book with us today to reserve your spot on our next Silk Road tour!