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  Bukhara, with its population of a quarter of a million, is a major tourist attraction for travelers following the old Silk Road. Celebrating its 2,500th anniversary in 1997, the city has been working hard to put its best old face forward. And though Bukhara’s mud-colored buildings are often a let-down to visitors who’ve just seen the dazzling mosaics of Samarkand, the city’s subdued desert hues and centuries-old buildings exude their own exotic air of ancient culture.


Bukhara attained its greatest importance in the late 16th century, when the Shaybānids’ possessions included most of Central Asia as well as northern Persia and Afghanistan. The emilMoḥammed Raḥīm freed himself from Persian vassalage in the mid-18th century and founded the Mangit dynasty.


   The historic centre of Bukhara, designated a Unesco world heritage site in 1993, still retains much of its former aspect, with its mosques, madrasas (Muslim theological schools), flat-roofed houses of sun-dried bricks, and remains of covered bazaars. Among important buildings are the Ismāʿīl Sāmānī Mausoleum (9th–10th century); the Kalyan minaret (1127) and mosque (early 14th century); Kukeldash (16th century), Abd al-ʿAziz Khān (1652), and Mir-e ʿArab (1536) madrasas; and the Ark, the city fortress, which is the oldest structure in Bukhara.

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