We are sure there are several places around the world that are on your bucket list. But have you ever wondered, how people in the ancient times travelled, their experiences, and the instances that shaped history? Well, if you have, then, here’s your chance to experience a slice of history through the well-travelled Silk Route. Yes, the very same ancient route that connected the East to the West via land and sea. One among the UNESCO World Heritage List, there are several historical and fantastic destinations that you must visit at least once in your life.
The Silk Route
The Silk Road was a system of trade ways that connected the East and West. It played a significant role in the cultural, economic, religious, and political communications between these regions from the 2nd-century BCE to the 18th century. This road largely denotes the roads that connected East and Southeast Asia with South Asia, Persia, the Arabian Isthmus, East Africa, and Southern parts of Europe.
The Silk Road Origins:
One of the more travelled trade routes, aptly named after the profitable silk trade carried out along its length. This trade began in China from 202 BCE– 9 AD. They were the first to produce silk fabrics from silkworms. As silk was exported to Europe, German geographer, Ferdinand von Richthofen named this road Silk. This road extends from Asia to Europe crossing through China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
This road stretches 7000 kilometers from Chang’an, called Xi’an now. Not only silk, but this route also saw the trade of other items and exchange of religious ideologies, technology, cultural ethos, etc. The Chang’an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Road became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 while the Indian section is a part of possible world heritage sites list.
Whether it is traversing through tall mountains, arid deserts, or wide grasslands, ancient sites, well-known palaces, and places of worship like Buddhist stone grottoes and temples dot the silk route. These places are worth a visit. Since there are several places you can pick from, we at Skyscanner picked the top places you must visit on the silk route.
Top 10 Places to visit on the Silk Road
4. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
6. Iran (Persia)
The starting point of the China Silk Road, Xian, is the capital of 13 ancient Chinese dynasties. Home to some of the oldest and most spectacular museums and temples in China, Xian is a must-visit. Don’t forget to visit the life-size Xian’s terracotta warriors in Shaanxi province on the silk route. Another place you must see is Luoyong, one of the 4 ancient capital cities in China.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Longmen Grottoes, the world-famous Shaolin Temple for a fantastic Kungfu experience and the White Horse Temple – the first Buddhist temple. Other places worth visiting on the Chinese Silk road are Dunhuang -known for its Buddhist art, Yumenguan Pass, Mogao Grottoes, Yangguan Pass, the Great Wall ruins, and the Gobi Desert. Qinghai for its oldest Tibetan monastery, Lanzhou for its Yellow River and more.
Once a profitable and hopping city that ancient traders flocked to in droves, for everything from antique treasures to tea leaves and more. The onslaught of Genghis Khan reduced the city of Merv -the Queen of Cities to ruins in 1221 AD. However, the attraction is still alive. This town on the silk road is quickly gaining prominence as tourists travel to see the ancient decaying crypts, discover dusty citadels, or lose yourself in complete emptiness of the Karakum Desert.
Don’t forget to explore Ashgabat -the capital city known for its magnificent shrines, the famous Rohy mosque. Turkmenbashi for its nature reserves and tombs; Awaza for volcanoes and cave systems; archaeological sites at Annau and more.
Uzbekistan is a rich, multiethnic region home to various cultures, customs, and languages for epochs. Experts believe there are more than 4,000 historic and architectural sites that you must visit. What’s more, you get a chance to explore Uzbekistan’s natural beauty, fantastic cuisine, and clever crafts. Though to be fair a single trip is not enough to explore it all. Make sure you visit the Bukhara, which is a must-visit on your silk route trip.
From its narrow backstreets to its lively bazaars Bukhara was an important staging place on the trade road. Visit the Fergana Valley that spreads across three countries and is known for its horses, intricate pottery, wood carvings, weavers and more. Other places you must visit are the Ulugh Beg Observatory, Walls of Itchan Kala in Xiva, Khan’s Palace in Kokand, and the Shahi-i-Zinda Necropolis in Samarkhand.
A relatively undiscovered oasis, Kyrgyzstan is in Central Asia to the west of China and south of Kazakhstan. A country home to nomadic tribes, Kyrgyzstan’s Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai Mountains are must-visits.
If you are someone who loves visiting places that aren’t so crowded, then this stop on the silk route is the right place. Make sure you visit the alpine lake Sary Chelek, the Sary Chelek Biosphere reserve, Osh -the southern capital known for its bazaar, the walnut forests of Arslanbob and the Ala Archa National park.
Another silk route stopping point for various caravans Kazakhstan is known for its wild horses. Most believe the first horses were tamed and used as rides here in this country.
There is plenty to explore from the turquoise Kaindy Lake, Aral Sea, Wild Apple forests, the oldest and largest space facility in the world Baikonur Cosmodrome, the Big Almaty Lake, Palace of Peace and Reconciliation and more. Not only the sites, but the food is a must-try. Try a little bit of Kurt, Kumis, Shuzhuk if you have an eclectic taste in food.
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