More Silk road city adventures – time to do some more exploring. We moved in to one of the best hotels in Bukhara, the hotel Malika.
Popping into the palace
We had one more day and night in beautiful Bukhara and so more shopping and a trip out to the Emir’s Summer Palace was next. Hotel Malika is very central and hosts silk road tour groups from all over the world and really is in the middle of everything you’d want to see in the city.
The Kalyan minaret
Close by is the Kalyan minaret one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Bukhara. Originally built to summon citizens to prayer, the tower features one of the oldest sections of blue glazed tiling in central Asia. It impressed the Mongol invader Genghis Khan who spared it from destruction and it was then used as a lookout for enemies. It became known as the Tower of Death because until as recently as the early twentieth century criminals were executed by being thrown from the top. Nice.
The Ark of Bukhara, a massive walled fortress, is also an easy walk from the hotel. It was built and occupied in the 5th Century. It was a military structure but also a town which housed various royal courts. Its gigantic walls now house a museum.
The Malika hotel
The silk road – hotel Mailka
The charming Hotel Malika, Bukhara lies at the heart of the old silk road city. It was opened in 2004 and is surrounded by beautiful ancient monuments. All the famous sites are well within walking distance as are numerous good restaurants. It’s close to lots of colourful bazaars selling pottery, carpets, cloth and Uzbek jewellery.
The building is on two floors built in the style of an ancient madrassah, around a shady courtyard where you can have a drink at the bar or relax with a pot of tea on a Topchan.
The hotel is a great place for business or leisure travelers with its excellent location in the old city. Plus, it’s only 15 minutes from the airport. The thirty clean elegant rooms all have air conditioning, TVs, new bathrooms, fridges and Wifi.
Sleep well at the Malika hotel
Some rooms have king size beds and there is a gym, sauna and laundry service too. There are also conference facilities here. It does a very good buffet breakfast in its rather charming dining room – I especially enjoyed the baby figs with creamy Uzbek yoghurt. The walls feature colourful friezes of Uzbek life and you can even hire bikes from here to cycle around the city which is pretty flat.
Topchan at the Malika
Silk road – the Emir’s summer palace
We took a short taxi ride out to see the Emir’s Summer Palace known as the Palace of Moon-like Stars or Sitorai-Mokhi-Khos. You are greeted by a large flock of peacocks – which feature everywhere in royal history and are quite important in influencing patterns and design too – they were known as the birds of paradise. Somewhat over the top, and boldly lavish in its decoration and tiling, this eccentric palace was one of my favourite things I saw in Uzbekistan.
The clash of European, Russian and Asian styles, colours and designs which I had heard heard described as rather kitsch, I found stunningly beautiful, and the colours and patterns just heart lifting, still dazzling in the brightest sunlight hundreds of years later.
The Emir’s Palace – where Russia meets Central Asia.
Not one of the intricate detailed patterns or paintings are repeated anywhere. The decoration in the rooms is absolutely stunning. The whole vibe of the palace, even all these years later, is a riot of colour, creativity and craftsmanship. In some ways, it felt curiously modern to me.
The Emir’s palace has state rooms with white Russian furniture and was also said to be home to the Emir’s harem. With its mix of Russian and Central Asian architecture and traditions, the summer palace is unique. It offers an intriguing glimpse into the lifestyle of an Emir trying to bridge two worlds.
The setting, especially the canopied tiled walkway was vibrantly dramatic. It reminded me of the type of backdrop they would use in a programme like America’s Next Top Model (ANTM to those in the know.) We decided to stage our own photo shoot using the Uzbek clothes we had bought. We used a selfie stick propped up in an ancient Uzbek lamp that was lying about. A lot of fun was had.
Bukhara’s Next Top Models!
The cool cotton Uzbek coats look perfect in this summer environment. I had to wear my gorgeous Uzbek hat too just for the photo – it does get very cold here in the winter.
Love my Uzbek hat!
Silk road stories – back to Tashkent
We were leaving that night on the overnight Russian train from Bukhara back to Tashkent. The train had fabulous original wooden sleeper compartments. These are the sort of train carriages featured in James Bond or Hitchcock movies. The beds were cosy but the train was unbearably hot. With no air con, it was a bit like trying to sleep in a sauna. We finally got off the train early next morning at the capital Tashkent. we still felt like we were swaying about for most of the next day. What could we expect next in our extraordinary Uzbek adventure?