WHY TO VISIT UZBEKISTAN
The Uzbekistan Republic is in Central Asia and has nearly thirty million inhabitants. Situated at the crossing point of several civilisations, this country has kept many vestiges of these cultural differences including the various lifestyles and the religion too has been influenced by Islam, Buddhism and Catholicism. The cultural inheritance is particularly rich and tourists are well aware of that since, after decades of communism they can finally discover all these riches themselves.
Tachkent, the capital, has little to offer except for its old town centre with its mosque, its bazaar, and its madrasah without forgetting several museums that are quite fascinating.
Samarkand, a mythical city on the silk route, is home to some beautiful monuments, animated markerts and magnificent mosques. Boukhara is another city that should not be missed with over a hundred classified buildings including the Kalon Minaret and the mausoleum of d’Ismaïl Samani.
Finally, Khiva which has a totally conserved town centre, has some beautiful palaces, mosques and a necropolis and has a predominantly turquoise colour that cannot be ignored.
WHAT TO SEE IN UZBEKISTAN
Top destinations in Uzbekistan are:
- Chatkalsky Reserve
WHEN TO GO TO UZBEKISTAN
Best period to visit Uzbekistan is from April to June.
The great temperature differences are one of the principal characteristics of the climate in Uzbekistan: This also applies for the range of temperatures in the same area due to the differences between mountain and desert areas.
During the inter-seasons rain can be abundant in the mountains, while on the plains you will find an ideal climate for discovering the country from May to June or October to November.
However, winters are particularly harsh and summers are scorching. Spring and autumn are definitely the best periods to consider a visit to this country.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Uzbekistan.
- Chimgan Extreme: February, Chimgan mountains. Winter sports festival near Tashkent.
- Navruz: 21 March. Central Asia’s New Year. The whole region welcomes springtime with song, dance and good food. In Uzbekistan, family celebrations and street parties are a natural part of the day. Traditional games like Kukpari will be on show around this time.
- Russian Orthodox Easter. An Orthodox celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Eggs are hamstered by babooshkas days in advance to bake the special ‘kulich’ dish, and the midnight mass has a special atmosphere.
- Day of Memory and Honour: 9 May. Remembering the Great War. Military parades everywhere.
- Silk and Spice festival: Bukhara, June. The Silk and Spices Festival, planned for June6 until 8, brings together traditional Uzbek craftsmen to showcase their work and provide demonstrations of their techniques. Evoking the heritage of the silk road and its diversity of fine craft items, the historic city of Bukhara itself is the venue for craftsmen ranging from ikat and carpet weavers, woodcarving to embossing, jewelry and gold-work as well as miniatures and ceramics. Alongside craft items, the Uzbek national dish of plov in all of its varieties will be available to sample. There is also performances by folk ensembles and demonstrations of national games like ram and cock fighting. These events will take place in some of Bukhara’s most iconic heritage sites, as traditional culture melds with the historic built environment.
- Beer festival: Tashkent, June. Tashkent might not be the beer destination of choice for the experts, but this festival nonetheless features lots of drinking and fun.
- Chimgan’s Echo festival: Chimgan mountains, first week of June. Cozy atmosphere at this outdoor music festival for singer-songwriters and revival of bard’s music. Also includes a mountainbike downhill race.
- Festival of Khan-Atlas: The Khan Atlas Festival which takes place between June2 and 6 is a particularly vibrant event showcasing traditional Uzbek textiles in contemporary fashion designs. Uzbekistan’s traditional ikat textile is recognized worldwide. However, Khan Atlas breathes some originality into a tradition steeped in the silk mills of eastern Uzbekistan in the Ferghana valley. Taking place in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent in the Tashkent House of Photography, the event will also be attended by French designers. They will arrange a seminar on the topic of Uzbek textiles in contemporary fashion design.
- Ramazan Hait: Date changes. Called Eid Al-Fitr in the Arabic world, this celebration ends Ramadan with tasty food. Uzbeks take Ramadan more seriously than others in Central Asia.
- Sharq Tarolanari (Samarkand, August). Big international ethnic music festival, held biennially in uneven years (2017-2019-2021…) in front of the Registan.
- Independence Day: 1 September. Marks one of the nation’s most important and widely fêted holidays. There is an official celebration and a lively array of street life as Uzbeks take the day off work. In recent years the official independence festivities have been closed to the public for security concerns. Instead, a show of cultural and folkloric performances realized on a monumental scale with thousands of performers is at the very least broadly televised. It is accompanied by a speech by the Uzbek president Islam Karimov. Street life abounds with traditional delicacies such as sour dried milk balls or somsa, meat pies.
- Kurban Hait: Date changes. Called Eid Al- Adha in the Arabic world, on this Muslim holiday it is traditional to go to mosque, sacrifice a sheep and give meat to the poor.
- Uzbek Flag Day: 8 November. Celebrating the national flag with a festival and concerts.
- Bazar Art: Tashkent, November. Exhibition of masterpieces of contemporary traditional arts and crafts of Uzbekistan.
- Constitution Day: 8 December. Another nation-building, leader-glorifying moment with concerts and the like.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH UZBEKISTAN
by plane, main airports are:
GENERAL INFORMATION ON UZBEKISTAN
country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice. Vaccine against hepatitis A and B is recommended.
local currency: Uzbekistani Som
local time zone: GMT+5
electricity: type C and I (220 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN UZBEKISTAN
typical food in Uzbekistan
- Plov: a pilaf dish, it is a national dish of Uzbekistan. dozens of variations of this dish but usually consists of chunks of mutton, shredded red and yellow carrot and rice fried in a cast iron or aluminium pot. Staple food for both every day and celebrations
- Shashlyk: skewered chunks of mutton barbecued over charcoal, served with sliced raw onions
- Lipioshka: rounds of unleavened bread). Served in restaurants and often sold on street corners, to make an appetising meal
- Samsa (samosas) pastries filled with various meats and onion and cooked in a tandoor or standard oven
- Manty: large boiled dumplings stuffed with meat
- Kefir: a thick drinking yoghurt, often served with breakfast
- Çäkçäk: unleavened dough fried in oil
- Chuchvara: a very small dumpling typical of Uzbek cuisine that is made of unleavened dough squares filled with meat
- Chorba: one of various kinds of soup or stew found in national cuisines across the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East
- Dimlama: An Uzbek stew prepared with various combinations of meat, potatoes, onions, vegetables, and sometimes fruits. Meat (mutton or beef) and vegetables are cut into large pieces and placed in layers in a tightly sealed pot to simmer slowly in their own juices
- Katyk: sour-milk yogurt
- Lagman: lamb and noodle soup
- Naryn: a pasta dish made with fresh hand-rolled noodles and horse meat
- Obi Non: also called patyr and nan, is a bread formed into large discs and cooked
- Oshi toki: stuffed grape leaves
- Shakarap: a salad prepared with tomato, onion, salt and pepper Some versions use a pumpkin filling during autumn
- Kabob: meats (typically mutton or beef) grilled on a skewer or with a spit. Kabob are often sold at food stands and roadway stalls. Traditional kabob are prepared with meat only, omitting vegetables
- Shurpa: a popular soup prepared with potatoes, vegetables and meat (typically mutton)
- Sumalak: sweet paste made entirely from germinated wheat (young wheatgrass)
- Suzma: clotted milk that is strained, forming curds
- Tirit: prepared to avoid wasting dry bread, it is prepared with the broth of offals and cutting dry bread and adding ground pepper and onion
- Yogurt soup: yogurt soup cooked with a variety of herbs, rice and sometimes chickpeas
- Ayran: a cold yogurt beverage mixed with salt
souvenirs from Uzbekistan
- ikat painted cushon covers
- Soviet memorabilia
- Islamic tiles
- hand-stitched bedspreads and linens
- carpets and rugs, in particular those from Bukhara
- suzani (an embroidered and decorative tribal textile)
How are you?: Qalaysiz?
Thank you: Rahmat
What is your name?: Ismingiz nima?
How much is it?: Buning narxi qancha?