Samarkand (/ˈsæmərkænd/; Uzbek: Samarqand, pronounced [samarqand]; Tajik: Самарқанд; Persian: سمرقند), also known as Samarqand, is a city in southeastern Uzbekistan and among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. There is evidence of human activity in the area of the city from the late Paleolithic Era, though there is no direct evidence of when Samarkand was founded; several theories propose that it was founded between the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. Prospering from its location on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean Sea, at times Samarkand was one of the largest[2] cities of Central Asia.[3]

Uzbek: Samarqand / Самарқанд
Persian: سمرقند
Clockwise from the top:
The Registan, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, Hazrat-Hyzr Mosque, Gur-e-Amir, Bibi-Khanym Mosque.
Location in Uzbekistan
Samarkand (West and Central Asia)
Samarkand (Asia)
Coordinates: 39°42′N 66°59′E
Country Uzbekistan
VilayatSamarkand Vilayat
Settled8th century BCE
  TypeCity Administration
  BodyHakim (Mayor)
  City120 km2 (50 sq mi)
705 m (2,313 ft)
 (1 January 2019)
Demonym(s)Samarkandian / Samarkandi
Time zoneUTC+5
Postal code
140100 (in English)
Official nameSamarkand – Crossroads of Cultures
CriteriaCultural: i, ii, iv
Inscription2001 (25th Session)
Area1,123 ha
Buffer zone1,369 ha

By the time of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, it was the capital of the Sogdian satrapy. The city was conquered by Alexander the Great in 329 BCE, when it was known as Markanda, which was rendered in Greek as Μαράκανδα.[4] The city was ruled by a succession of Iranian and Turkic rulers until it was conquered by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1220. Today, Samarkand is the capital of Samarqand Region and one of the largest cities of Uzbekistan.[5]

The city is noted as a centre of Islamic scholarly study and the birthplace of the Timurid Renaissance. In the 14th century, Timur (Tamerlane) made it the capital of his empire and the site of his mausoleum, the Gur-e Amir. The Bibi-Khanym Mosque, rebuilt during the Soviet era, remains one of the city's most notable landmarks. Samarkand's Registan square was the city's ancient centre and is bounded by three monumental religious buildings. The city has carefully preserved the traditions of ancient crafts: embroidery, goldwork, silk weaving, copper engraving, ceramics, wood carving, and wood painting.[6] In 2001, UNESCO added the city to its World Heritage List as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures.

Modern Samarkand is divided into two parts: the old city, and the new city, which was developed during the days of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union. The old city includes historical monuments, shops, and old private houses; the new city includes administrative buildings along with cultural centres and educational institutions.[7]