Бухоро / Buxoro (Uzbek)
بخارا (Persian)
From top, left to right: Po-i-Kalyan Mosque with the Kalyan Minaret in the middle, Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Ark of Bukhara, Chor Minor, and Panoramic sunset view around Po-i-Kalyan Mosque and Ark of Bukhara
Bukhara is located in Uzbekistan
Location in Uzbekistan
Bukhara is located in West and Central Asia
Bukhara (West and Central Asia)
Coordinates: 39°46′00″N 64°25′23″E / 39.76667°N 64.42306°E / 39.76667; 64.42306
Country Uzbekistan
Founded6th century BC
First mention500 AD
 • TypeCity Administration
 • Hakim (Mayor)Jamol Nosirov
 • City143.0 km2 (55.213 sq mi)
 • Urban
73.0 km2 (28.2 sq mi)
225 m (738 ft)
 • City280,187
 • Density2,000/km2 (5,100/sq mi)
Time zoneGMT +5
Area code(+998) 65
Vehicle registration20 (previous to 2008)
80-84 (2008 and newer)
HDI (2018)0.734 · 5th high
Official nameHistoric Centre of Bukhara
Criteriaii, iv, vi
Reference no.602

Bukhara (/bʊˈxɑːrə/ buu-KHAR;[2] Uzbek and Tajik: Бухоро, romanizedBuxoro, pronounced [buχɒrɒ]; Persian: بخارا) is the seventh-largest city in Uzbekistan by population, with 280,187 residents as of 1 January 2020.[1] It is the capital of Bukhara Region.[3] The mother tongue of the majority of people of Bukhara is the Tajik dialect of the Persian language,[4] although Uzbek is spoken as a second language by most residents.

People have inhabited the region around Bukhara for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long served as a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. Bukhara served as the capital of the Samanid Empire, Khanate of Bukhara, and Emirate of Bukhara. It was the birthplace of the scholar Imam Bukhari.[5] The city has been known as "Noble Bukhara" (Bukhārā-ye sharīf). Bukhara has about 140 architectural monuments. UNESCO has listed the historic center of Bukhara (which contains numerous mosques and madrasas) as a World Heritage Site.[6]


The exact name of the city of Bukhara in ancient times is unknown. The whole oasis was called Bukhara in ancient times, and probably only in the tenth century was it finally transferred to the city.[7]

According to some scholars, the name dates back to the Sanskrit vihāra (Buddhist monastery).[8][9][10] This word is very close to the word in the language of the Uyghur and Chinese Buddhists, who named their places of worship the same way. Very few artifacts related to Buddhism have survived into the modern day in the city. But, numerous Arabic, Persian, European and Chinese travellers and historians noted the place and Uzbekistan itself to be once populated by mostly Buddhists and few Zoroastrians. Indeed, the first Islamic text on Bukhara relates to the first Arab invader of Bukhara, Ubaidullah bin Ziad, who noted Bukhara to be a Buddhist country with Buddhist monasteries ruled by a queen regent acting on behalf of her son.[8][11][12][13][14]

According to other sources (such as Encyclopædia Iranica), the name Bukhara is possibly derived from the Sogdian βuxārak ("Place of Good Fortune"), a name for Buddhist monasteries.[15][9]

In the Tang dynasty, and other successive dynasties of Imperial China, Bukhara was known under the name of Buhe/Puhe (捕喝),[16] which has been replaced in Chinese by the modern generic phonetic spelling Bùhālā (布哈拉).

In the 19-20th centuries, Bukhara was known as Bokhara in the English publications as exemplified by the writings and reports on the Emirate of Bukhara during the Great Game.

Muhammad ibn Jafar Narshakhi in his History of Bukhara (completed AD 943–44) mentions:

Bukhara has many names. One of its names was Numijkat. It has also been called "Bumiskat". It has 2 names in Arabic. One is "Madinat al Sufriya" meaning—"the copper city" and another is "Madinat Al Tujjar" meaning—"The city of Merchants". But, the name Bukhara is the original name and more known than all the other names. In Khorasan, there is no other city with so many names.[17]

Since the Middle Ages, the city has been known as Buḫārā / بخارا in Arabic and Persian sources. The modern Uzbek spelling is Buxoro.

The city's name was mythologized as Albracca in the Italian epic poem Orlando Innamorato, published in 1483 by Matteo Maria Boiardo.[18]


Main article: History of Bukhara

Suzani textiles from Bukhara are famous worldwide. This one was made before 1850.
Bukhara coinage of Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi. Bukhara was under Caliphate control until AD 861.
Coin belonging to the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom found in Bukhara

The history of Bukhara stretches back millennia. Along with Samarkand, Bukhara was the epicentre of the Persian culture in medieval Asia until the fall of Timurid dynasty.

By 850, Bukhara served as the capital of the Samanid Empire,[19] and was the birthplace of Imam Bukhari. The Samanids, claiming descent from Bahram Chobin, rejuvenated Persian culture far from Baghdad, the centre of the Islamic world. New Persian flourished in Bukhara and Rudaki, the father of Persian poetry, was born and raised in Bukhara and wrote his most famous poem about the beauty of the city. For this purpose, Bukhara had continuously served as the most important of cities in many Persianate empires, namely Samanids, and Turkic empires Karakhanids, Khwarazmids, and Timurids.

The influence of Bukhara in the wider Islamic world started to diminish starting from the arrival of another Turkic dynasty of Uzbeks in the 16th Century. Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar was the last Persian emperor who attempted to retake the city just before his assassination, and by the 19th century the city had become a peripheral city in the Persian and the Islamic world, being ruled by local Emirs of Bukhara, who were the last Persianate princes before the fall of the city to the red army.

At the beginning of the 11th century, Bukhara became part of the Turkic state of the Karakhanids. The rulers of the Karakhanids built many buildings in Bukhara: the Kalyan minaret, the Magoki Attori mosque, palaces and parks.[20]

Bukhara lies west of Samarkand and was previously a focal point of learning eminent all through the Persian and the Islamic world. It is the old neighborhood of the incomparable Sheik Naqshbandi. He was a focal figure in the advancement of the mysterious Sufi way to deal with theory, religion and Islam.[21]

It is now the capital of Bukhara Region (viloyat) of Uzbekistan. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. During the golden age of the Samanids, Bukhara became a major intellectual center of the Islamic world,[22] and was renowned for its numerous libraries.[23] The historic center of Bukhara, which contains numerous mosques and madrassas, has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Amir Alim Khan, the last emir of Bukhara, circa 1911

Genghis Khan besieged Bukhara for 15 days in 1220.[24][25] As an important trading centre, Bukhara was home to a community of medieval Indian merchants from the city of Multan (modern-day Pakistan) who were noted to own land in the city.[26] For several centuries, the cities of Bukhara av Khiva were known as major centers of the slave trade, and the Bukhara slave trade, alongside the neighboring slave trade in Khiva, has been referred to as the "slave capitals of the world".[27]

Bukhara under siege by Red Army troops and burning, September 1, 1920

Bukhara was the last capital of the Emirate of Bukhara and was besieged by the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. During the Bukhara operation of 1920, Red Army troops under the command of Bolshevik general Mikhail Frunze attacked the city of Bukhara. On 31 August 1920, the Emir Alim Khan fled to Dushanbe in Eastern Bukhara (later he escaped from Dushanbe to Kabul in Afghanistan). On 2 September 1920, after four days of fighting, the emir's citadel (the Ark) was destroyed and the red flag was raised from the top of Kalyan Minaret. On 14 September 1920, the All-Bukharan Revolutionary Committee was set up, headed by A. Mukhitdinov. The government—the Council of People's Nazirs (see nāẓir)—was presided over by Fayzulla Xoʻjayev.

The Bukharan People's Soviet Republic existed from 1920 to 1924 when the city was integrated into the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. Fitzroy Maclean, then a young diplomat in the British Embassy in Moscow, made a surreptitious visit to Bokhara in 1938, sight-seeing and sleeping in parks. In his memoir Eastern Approaches, he judged it an "enchanted city" with buildings that rivalled "the finest architecture of the Italian Renaissance". In the latter half of the 20th century, the war in Afghanistan and civil war in Tajikistan brought Dari- and Tajik-speaking refugees into Bukhara and Samarkand. After integrating themselves into the local Tajik population, these cities face a movement for annexation into Tajikistan with which the cities have no common border.[28]

Historic monuments in Bukhara

Church of Archangel Michael in Bukhara

Architectural complexes

Simurgh on the portal of Nadir Divan-Beghi madrasah (part of Lab-i Hauz complex)
An alley close to Lab-i Hauz

There is also a metal sculpture of Nasruddin Hodja, the quick-witted and warm-hearted man, who forms the central character of many children's folk stories in Central Asian, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, sitting atop his mule with one hand on his heart and the other with an 'All OK' sign above his head.


Wall of the Bukhara Fortress, the Ark

Main article: Ark of Bukhara


The Boboyi Poradoz Mausoleum (Uzbek: Boboyi Poradoʻz maqbarasi) is a monument of architecture in Bukhara Region. The mausoleum was built in the 19th century and is located behind the Salakhona gate. Today the mausoleum is located opposite the Ibn Sina Library of Bukhara. The mausoleum is included in the National List of Objects of Material Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan of Republican Importance.

Chashma-Ayub, or Job's spring, is located near the Samani mausoleum. Its name is said to reflect a legend that states the prophet Job ("Ayub" in the Quran) visited this place and brought forth a spring of water by the blow of his staff on the ground. The water of this well is said to be exceptionally pure, and is regarded for its supposed "healing qualities." The current edifice at the site was constructed during the reign of Timur, and features a Khwarazm-style conical dome that is otherwise uncommon in the region.

The Ismail Samani mausoleum (9th–10th centuries), is one of the most highly esteemed work of Central Asian architecture. It was built in the 9th century (between 892 and 943) as the resting-place of Ismail Samani—the founder of the Samanid dynasty, which was the last native Persian dynasty to rule the region in the 9th to 10th centuries, after the Samanids established virtual independence from the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad.

The site is unique for its architectural style which combines both Zoroastrian and Islamic motifs. The building's facade is covered in intricately decorated brick work, which features circular patterns reminiscent of the sun—a common image in Zoroastrian art from the region at that time which is reminiscent of the Zoroastrian god, Ahura Mazda, who is typically represented by fire and light. The building's shape is cuboid, and reminiscent of the Ka'aba in Makkah, while the domed roof is a typical feature of mosque architecture. The syncretic style of the shrine is reflective of the 9th to 10th centuries—a time when the region still had large populations of Zoroastrians who had begun to convert to Islam around that time.

The shrine is also regarded as one of the oldest monuments in the Bukhara region. At the time of Genghis Khan's invasion, the shrine was said to have already been buried in mud from flooding. Thus, when the Mongol hordes reached Bukhara, the shrine was spared from their destruction.

The mausoleum of Pakistan's founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, known as the Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi, was modeled after the shrine.


The Bolo Haouz Mosque

Built in 1712, on the opposite side of the citadel of Ark in Registan district, Bolo Haouz Mosque is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list along with the other parts of the historic city. It served as a Friday mosque during the time when the emir of Bukhara was being subjugated under the Bolshevik Russian rule in 1920s.

Char Minar

Char Minor (alternatively spelled Chor Minor, and also alternatively known as the Madrasah of Khalif Niyaz-kul) is a building tucked away in a lane northeast of the Lyabi Hauz complex. The structure was built by Khalif Niyaz-kul, a wealthy Bukharan of Turkmen origin in the 19th century under the rule of the Janid dynasty.[36] The four-towered structure is sometimes mistaken for a gate to the madras that once existed behind the structure; however, the Char-Minar is actually a complex of buildings with two functions, ritual and shelter.

The main edifice is a mosque. In spite of its unusual outward shape, the building has a typical interior for a Central Asian mosque. Owing to the buildings cupola, the room has good acoustic properties and therefore takes on special significance of 'dhikr-hana'—a place for ritualized 'dhikr' ceremonies of Sufi, the liturgy of which often include recitation, singing, and instrumental music.

On either side of the central edifice are located dwelling rooms, some of which have collapsed, leaving only their foundations visible. Consequently, for full functioning of madrasah only of classroom and some utility rooms is lacking. However, it was common practice that so-called madrasahs had no lecture rooms or, even if they had, no lectures had been given in them. These madrasahs were employed as student hospices.[36]

Each of the four towers has different decorational motifs. Some say that elements of decoration reflect the four religions known to Central Asians. One can find elements reminiscent of a cross, a Christian fish motif, and a Buddhist praying-wheel, in addition to Zoroastrian and Islamic motifs.[37] In 1995, due to an underground brook, one of the four towers collapsed [38] and emergency assistance was applied for and granted by UNESCO under the World Heritage Fund. Although the collapse resulted in destabilizing the entire structure, the authorities were anxious to keep awareness of the disaster to a minimum. Without explanation the building disappeared from the list of sights and after hurried reconstruction of the tower "using non-traditional building material, such as poor quality cement and steel"[39] Char Minar returned as one of the most popular sights of the city, yet the event has been kept secret ever since.

On the esplanade to the right from Char-Minar is a pool, likely of the same age as the rest of the building complex. Char Minar is now surrounded mainly by small houses and shops along its perimeter.

The Magoki-Attari mosque (south façade)

The former Magoki Attori mosque was constructed in the 9th century on the remains of what may have been an older Zoroastrian temple. The mosque was destroyed and rebuilt more than once, and the oldest part now remaining is the south façade, which dates from the 12th century—making it one of the oldest surviving structures in Bukhara, and one of few which survived the onslaught of Genghis Khan. Lower than the surrounding ground level, the mosque was excavated in 1935. It no longer functions as a mosque, but, rather, houses a carpet museum.

In Bukhara there is a mosque which is said to be that of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani, the patron saint of Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley of Kashmir.[40]

Shirbudun Palace

Shirbudun Palace (Uzbek: Shirbudun saroyi) is one of the Bukhara emirs' political building. The palace's construction started approximately 1870, under the reign of Muzaffar bin Nasrullah (1860–1885) in the Bukhara Emirate.[41][42][43]

Bukhara Prison

Bukhara Prison is the prison of the Amir of Bukhara. The prison was built in the second half of the 18th century, during the Mangit dynasty, and is located in the northwest corner of the ancient city, in the vicinity of the Hoja Nizamiddin Bolo burial site, around a hundred meters northeast of the Ark fortress, dating back to the middle centuries.[44][45][46]

Jandi Turki Mausoleum is situated on Namozgoh Street, in the old city section of Bukhara.[47][48] The mausoleum is associated with Abu Nasr Ahmad ibn Fazl ibn Muso al-Muzakkir al-Jandi. [49][50]

Nodir Devonbegi is a historical memorial in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. It was established by Nodir Devonbegi (Nodir Mirzo Togay ibn Sultan), the vizier and brother of the ruler of Bukhara, Imamquli Khan, in 1620–1621.[51] The Khanaka has been included in the national list of intangible cultural heritage objects of Uzbekistan.


About 140 miles (230 km) west of Samarkand in south-central Uzbekistan, Bukhara is located on the Zeravshan River, at an elevation of 751 feet (229 meters).


Bukhara has a typically Central Asian cool arid climate (Köppen BWk). The average maximum afternoon temperature in January is 6.6 °C or 43.9 °F, rising to an average maximum of around 37.2 °C or 99.0 °F in July. Mean annual precipitation is 135 millimetres or 5.31 inches.

Water was important in the hot, dry climate of Central Asia, so from ancient times, irrigation farming was developed. Cities were built near rivers, and water channels were built to serve the entire city. Uncovered reservoirs, known as hauzes, were constructed. Special covered water reservoirs, or sardobas, were built along caravan routes to supply travelers and their animals with water.

However, the heavy use of agrochemicals during the Soviet era, diversion of irrigation water from the two rivers that feed Uzbekistan, and the lack of water treatment plants have caused health and environmental problems on a large scale.[citation needed]

Climate data for Bukhara (1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −2.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 16.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10 10 10 8 7 3 1 1 1 4 8 9 72
Average relative humidity (%) 80 75 72 59 46 38 40 44 48 56 64 79 58
Source 1: NOAA[52]
Source 2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (humidity)[53]


Bukhara train station

Bukhara International Airport has regularly scheduled flights to cities in Uzbekistan and Russia. The Turkmenistan border is about 80 km away with the nearest city there being Türkmenabat, connected via the M37 highway which continues to other places in Turkmenistan including Ashgabat. The city is also served by railroad links with the rest of Uzbekistan, and is a hub for roadways leading to all major cities in Uzbekistan and beyond, including Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan via the M39 highway. The city of Samarkand is 215 km to the east of Bukhara.[54]

Internal transportation facilities

Bukhara city is the largest transport hub after Tashkent in Uzbekistan. Inside the city there is facility of bus transportation. There are over 45 bus lines. Majority of them have been equipped with ISUZU buses but some buses are being brought from China. By the number of buses and bus routes facilities Bukhara is the largest after Tashkent in Uzbekistan.


Uzbekistan, Bukhara, Spices and silk festival

Bukhara recorded a population of 279,200 in the year 2019. Bukhara (along with Samarkand) is one of the two major centers of Uzbekistan's Tajik minority. Bukhara was also home to the Bukharan Jews, whose ancestors settled in the city during Roman times. Most Bukharian Jews left Bukhara between 1925 and 2000.

Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda defines the name Bukhara itself as meaning "full of knowledge", referring to the fact that in antiquity, Bukhara was a scientific and scholarship powerhouse. In the Italian romantic epic Orlando innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo, Bukhara is called Albracca and described as a major city of Cathay. There, within its walled city and fortress, Angelica and the knights she has befriended make their stand when attacked by Agrican, emperor of Tartary. As described, this siege by Agrican resembles the historic siege by Genghis Khan in 1220.[55]

Ethnic groups

According to the official statistics, the city's population is 82% Uzbeks, 6% Russians, 4% Tajiks, 3% Tatars, 1% Koreans, 1% Turkmens, 1% Ukrainians, 2% of other ethnicities.[56] However, official Uzbek numbers have for long been criticized and refuted by various observers and Western sources[57][58] and it is widely assumed that the population of the city consists mainly of Tajik-speaking Tajiks, with ethnic Uzbeks forming a growing minority.[59] Exact figures are difficult to evaluate, since many people in Uzbekistan either identify as "Uzbek" even though they speak Tajik as their first language, or because they are registered as Uzbeks by the central government despite their Tajik language and identity. According to Soviet estimates in the early 20th century (based on numbers from 1913 and 1917), the Tajiks formed the overwhelming majority of city.[58]


The religion with the largest community of followers is Islam. The majority of the Muslims are Sunni Muslims who make up 88 percent of the population. Eastern Orthodox make up 9 percent, and others 3 percent.

Notable people

See also: Bukhari (surname)

Many notable people lived in Bukhara in the past. Among them are:

International relations

The following is a list of Bukhara's sister cities:[60]

See also


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  3. ^ "Classification system of territorial units of the Republic of Uzbekistan" (in Uzbek and Russian). The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on statistics. July 2020.
  4. ^ Rahim Masov, The History of the Clumsy Delimitation, Irfon Publ. House, Dushanbe, 1991 (in Russian). English translation: The History of a National Catastrophe , transl. Iraj Bashiri, 1996.
  5. ^ Города Узбекистана, Таш.. 1965; Ашуров Я. С., Гелах Т. Ф., Камалов У. Х., Бухара, Таш., 1963; Сухарева О. А., Бухара XIX—начала XX вв., М., 1966; Пугаченкова Г. А., Самарканд, Бухара, 2 изд., [М, 1968]; Бухара. Краткий справочник, 4 изд., Таш., 1968. (in Russian)
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  12. ^ Johan Elverskog (6 June 2011). Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-0531-2.
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  18. ^ Orlando Innamorato translated by Charles Stanley Ross, Parlor Press LLC, 2004, p. 593. (Albraca is first mentioned in Book I, Canto VI, stanza 42, on p. 60.)
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  20. ^ Nemtseva N. B. Rabat-i Malik, XI — nachalo XVIII vv.: arkheologicheskiye issledovaniya. — Tashkent: Frantsuzskiy Institut Issledovaniy Tsentral'noy Azii, 2009.
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  23. ^ Marlow 2016, p. 63.
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Further reading