Samarkand, Uzbekistan, has some of the largest and most finely decorated sights along the Silk Road. Central Asia conqueror Tamerlane (more properly known as Timur) made it his capital in the late 1300s and brought in the best builders and craftspeople to make it imposing and beautiful. But even before its heyday, Samarkand attracted the interest and suffered the wrath of many conquerors, including Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.

Several sights still remain from Tamerlane's dynasty.

If you're going to take a day trip from Samarkand, plan to spend at least two nights in the city. The highlights in the city itself can be squeezed into one full day, but two days and two nights would be better. Samarkand is 165 mi/265 km southwest of Tashkent.

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