Bukhara is one of the famous and ancient oasis cities of the Orient on the Great Silk Road. Being very popular as one of the seven holy cities in Muslim world, it was called with the names of “Bukhoro-i-Sharif” or “Noble Bukhara”. In some sources the name Bukhara is supposed to be derived from Sogdian which means “place of good fortune”. In another version, it is mentioned that owing to the prevalence of Buddhism at that time, it might be arisen from a word “Vihara” of Sanskrit meaning “a Buddhist temple or monastery”. The famous historian Narshakhi, in one of his books – “History of Bukhara”, wrote that the city had been called with a name “Numijkat” (or it might be called as "Bumiskat" too). And he mentioned that in Arabic there had been two names: "Madinat al-Sufriya" ("the copper city") and "Madinat al-Tujjar" ("the city of merchants"). It was said that in Khorasan there had been no city with so many titles as Bukhara did. For ages it has been a centre for tradesmen, scholars, scientists and many other well-known people in religion and culture.
The history of Bukhara goes back to millennia and so it is able to be a rival in comparison with Samarkand and some other historical cities. The city became a center for intelligence not only of the Islamic World but also the world itself during the Samanids’ period.
According to the official sources Bukhara is supposed to be founded in 500 BCE (before the Common Era) despite the fact that the area had been populated long before. E.E. Kuzmina, one of the Russian archeologists, wrote in her book “The Prehistory of the Silk Road” that the Zaman-Baba culture in the oasis had been found in the 3rd millennium BCE while Indo-Aryans were spreading across Central Asia. From that time the culture of Bronze Age which is currently called Sapolli Culture prospered at sites such as Varakhsha, Vardan, Paykent and Ramitan. In 1500 BCE some factors such as changes in climate and iron technology as well as the arrival of Aryan nomads caused the people move to the oasis from remote areas. The fertile lands of a dense lake along the Zeravshan Valley were the right place for both Sapolli and Aryan people to live together. By 1000 BCE the both groups had been immersed in a distinguishing culture. That new culture, called Sogdian, flourished in the city-states along the Zeravshan Valley about 800 BCE. By the time owing to the silt of the lake, three small fortified settlements had been appeared there. By 500 BCE those settlements had developed together and were enclosed by a wall and this caused Bukhara to be born.
Finally, in 500 BCE Bukhara came into existence as a vassal state of the Persian Empire. Later it was conquered by the Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, the Greco-Bactrians, and the Kushan Empire periodically. After the collapse of the Kushan Empire, Bukhara was under the control of Hua tribes of Mongolia and it was put into decline for some time.
The Arabs couldn’t finally conquer the city until the Battle of Talas in 751 AD even though the Islamic Armies of the Arab Caliphate had arrived in 650 AD. From that time on Islam gradually became a primary religion and it has been keeping as a dominant religion till the present day.
After the collapse of Arab domination, Bukhara was made the capital of Samanid Empire in 850 AD. During the Samanids period Bukhara thrived and it could be a rival to Baghdad in its glory. According to some sources the Arabic was preferred to patronize to a meaningful degree in spite of the fact that the Persian was declared as a main language. Karakhanid Uyghurs overthrew the Samanids in 999 AD. Later, Bukhara was added into the kingdom of Kharazm Shahs. But killing the ambassador of Mongols, the Kharazm Shahs were toppled by Genghis Khan in 1220. The city slowly recovered and it was a part of Chaghatay Khanate and later the Timurid Empire.
Though it was a feudal state in the XVI-XVIII centuries, the name “Khanate of Bukhara” was given to it when the capital of Shaybanid state (1500–1598) was moved to Bukhara. In 1740 Nadir Shah captured it. From 1747 descendents of Uzbek emirs took control over it. In 1785, regarding to formalization of Shah Murad, the Khanate of Bukhara was changed to the Emirate of Bukhara.
Bukhara was one of the main points for both Russian and British Empires during the Great Game. As a result of this game, it was acquired by Red-Army troops as a colony in 1920. So in the pages of history as a last Emir of Bukhara, Muhammad Alim Khan (1880-1944) was remained. Bukhara was a capital of the Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic until it was integrated into the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924. It was still one of the major and main cities when Uzbekistan obtained its independence in 1991.
In respect of more than 140 architectural and historical monuments, Bukhara is truly called “Town Museum” among people. The center of Bukhara with a lot of historical monuments, mosques and madrasas was assigned as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1993 and they are being preserved by the government till the present day.The list of the monuments in Bukhara being preserved is:
- Ark fortress (XI-XX cc.);
- Bala-Hauz ensemble (beginning of XVIII-XX cc.);
- Mausoleum of the Samanids (IX-X cc.);
- Chasma-Ayub Mazar (1380 or 1385);
- Madrasa of Abdulla-khan (1596/98);
- Madrasa of Madariy-khan (1556/57);
- Baland Mosque - (beginning of XVI c.);
- Gaukushon Ensemble (XVI c.);
- Hanaka of Zainutdin-Hadji (1555);
- Pai-Kalyan Ensemble (XII-XIV cc.);
- Kukeldash Madrasa (1568/69);
- Madrasa of Nadira Divan Begi (1620);
- Madrasa of Ulugbek (1417);
- Madrasa of Abdulaziz-khan (1652);
- Mausoleum of Saifetdin Boharziy (the second half of XIII-XIV cc.);
- Mausoleum of Bayan Kulikhan (the second half of XIV-XV or XVI c.);
- Namazgoh Mosque (XII-XVI cc.);
- Hanaka Faizabad (1598/99);
- Chor-Minor Madrassah (1807);
- Chor-Bakr necropolis (1560-1563);
- Magoki Attori Mosque (XII-XVI cc.);
- Sitorai Mohi Hosa (XIX-XX cc.);
- Mausoleum of Bakhouddin Nakshband;