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The name Bukhara is derived from "Vihara", which means "monastery" in Sanskrit. Bukhara is one of the famous old cities on the Silk Road, in Uzbek called "Buyuk Ipakuli". Part of it was established in the 5th century by a Persian prince, who had married Afrosiab's daughter in Samarkand and wanted to build a citadel. The city is said to have existed since the 13nd century before Christ. It was conquered by Alexander the Great, in 1220 by Genghis Khan and in 1370 by Timur from Samarkand. In the 16th century, the city became the capital of the Bukhara Khanate, which was vast, as it included most of Central Asia and part of Afghanistan and Iran as well. Bukhara became a center from which the Muslim religion was spread.
Until one hundred years ago, the city was watered by many canals and pools (called "hauz"). However, the water was not changed often enough and microbes were more happy in there than human beings; it was said that in the 19th century, the Bukharian population died at the average age of 32. Probably it was safer to stay dirty!

The Kalon Mosque was built in the 16th century, at the foot of the minaret. It has a capacity of 10,000 people. The Soviets, never very fond of Muslim culture, used it as a warehouse, but after the independence of Uzbekistan in 1991 the Mosque was given back its old function. Apart from the Kalon mosque there is also a Kalon minaret in Bukhara. The minaret was built in 1127 by Arslan Khan and was probably the tallest minaret in those times. Bukhara is inhabited by many Tadjiks, and the word "kalon" means "great" in Tajik. It is 47 meters tall and was used in ancient times as watch tower and to throw off criminals, who stood little chance of survival afterwards.

Mosques in Bukhara were targeted by different cultures through all times: in 1219, Genghis Khan rode into one of the predecessor mosques of Kalon, thinking this was the sultan's palace. When he found out it was a holy building, he let his men and horses in and destroyed it anyway.
On the right the Mir-i-Arab madrassah, a Koran school. It is still working and was only closed between 1920 and 1944. Young men study Arabic here, the Koran and Islamic law. It was built opposite the Kalon mosque by one of the khans with the money, he earned selling 3,000 Persian slaves in 1535, probably fearing that his god would not approve of this profit after he died. The construction was led by Sheikh Abdullah of Yemen, Prince of Arabs (Mir-i-Arab).
On the left the front of Labi-Hauz; as you can read on top, hauz means pool and Labi-Hauz in Tajik means "around the pool". Labi-Hauz and its pool still exist, nowadays lined with chaikhanna's (Uzbek for tea-houses, but they are really restaurants). It was built in 1620 and apart from tourists and old buildings, there are also very old trees and local men playing chess. One of the trees is used by women to walk around, since it is said to help to get pregnant. I am not sure this is true, but it certainly helps to catch the eye of eligible, chess-playing men.

This is the Sitorai Makhi Khosa, the palace of Moon and Stars. It is the summer palace of the last emir, Alimkhan, and it was built in 1911. The outside (to the right) was built by Russians, the inside (bottom and left) was built by local people and is completely different. It is located outside the centre. We had to convince the taxi driver that it actually existed! The Khan used to live in the Ark before, which is located in the center and quite basic. The palace is decorated, has a nice cool garden, a harem and a pool, where the ladies used to swim and compete for the apple their master would throw at them, in order to gain a place for the night.
At the entrance of the summer Palace the only tourists of the day are figuring: We, meaning Mary, Teb, and Herma.