Tashkent, Uzbekistan: Folk dancers in national costume perform during the festivities Photograph: Anvar Ilyasov/AP
Samarkand is truly a jewel of the ancient and modern Silk Road. There is the exquisite jade mausoleum of Gur-i-Emir, the resting place of Tamerlane. Perhaps the greatest treasure is Registan Square, Tamerlane's outstanding creation, a vast complex of domes and minarets, mosques and medrassas. There is the equally beautiful necropolis of Shah-i-Zinda and the old observatory of Uleg Beg, the greatest Muslim astronomer.
Uzbekistan, Samarkand, Registan, Minaret of Tilla-Kari Madressa by MY2200, via Flickr
Uzbekistan. "...the Shah-i-Zinda remains Samarkand's most moving sight. The name, which means 'Tomb of the Living King', refers to its original, innermost and holiest shrine - a complex of cool, quiet rooms around what is probably the grave of Qusam ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Mohammed.... A shrine to Qusam existed here on the edge of Afrosiab long before the Mongols ransacked it in the 13th century. Shah-i-Zinda began to assume its current form in the 14th century...