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The Great Silk Road

Ancient trade routes

Prior to the existence of the Silk Road, 2 more ancient trade routes had existed: Ruby Road (launched in the 3-2 millennia BC) and Royal Road (launched in VI-IV centuries BC). But they failed to be as important and well-known as the Great Silk Road!

How the Silk Road started and its history

Silk Road history goes back to 138 BC when Chinese Emperor-Wu Di sent his ambassador-Zhang Xian to find allies in the struggle against the nomadic Hun tribes plundering northern regions of China. After several years the ambassador returned and described his paths and the countries he had passed.

By this way, in the II century BC, the passed route of Zhang Xiang established the well-known Great Silk Road which linked China with the West via Central Asia. The Silk Road started from Xian (China) and ended in Antioch (Greece) with a total length-12 000 km (7 481 miles). Here is the map of the Silk Road. It had several routes/branches: Northern route, Southern route, Southwestern route, and Maritime route.

Silk Road caravans

Silk Road caravans used to have camels from 50 up to 500 pieces. Bactrian camels, which have 2 humps, were mainly used to their legendary endurance. They can survive 1 month without food, two weeks without water, +47 C heat, and -40 C cold. Their 2 humps are their storage of fat which is used as energy during the non-existence of food and water. A camel could pass 50 km (31 miles) distance in a day with 250 kg of goods. Thus, there were caravanserais (ancient motels) and water reservoirs in each 50 km where traders could stop for an overnight stay, some food, and water, sale of products if agreed, exchange of money…..

We can see still remaining ruins of Rabbat Malik Caravansarai of the XI century and the “Sardoba” water reservoir in a good shape in Karmana, Navoi region of Uzbekistan.

The camels of the Great Silk Road deserved the description: “Ships of the desert”. 

The impact of the Silk Road

The Silk Road had a great impact/influence on the growth of historical and cultural ties and commercial relations between the Eastern and the Western countries of the ancient world.

Silk Road caravans traded fabrics, carpets, spices, animals, grain, leather & fur, devices and tools, religious items, artworks, jewels and jewels, metals, and other countless products. Moreover, the Silk Road functioned among nations as an exchange of spirituality, languages, culture, literature, customs and traditions, cuisine, science, philosophy, enlightenment, etc. All cities, located along branches, bloomed and their economy was quite developed.

The global language of the Great Silk Road was Sogdian. Its worldwide currency was Sogdian silk money. Thus, these facts prove that historical cities of Uzbekistan like Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Tashkent, and Ferghana played a significant role in the trade. We can confidentially call them the legendary Silk Road cities!

The end of the Silk Road

But as everything has an end, Silk Route also started to decline gradually by Ottoman Empire’ trade veto with China in 1453 AD. Moreover, the final reason was-Age of Discovery, when people found ships safe, fast, and cheap to deliver goods.   

New Silk Road today

Amazing! Today we can witness the revival of Silk Road!

To restore the significance of the Great Silk Road, in 2013 China initiated the mega project “The Belt and Road“. Moreover, in May 2017 there was the first forum in China with more than 140 countries (including Uzbekistan) and 80 international organizations.

The goal of the project is to develop existing and work out new trade routes, as well as transport and economic corridors connecting China with the countries of Central Asia, Europe, and Africa. Additionally to the economic component, there is a plan to implement hundreds of programs for household improvement, poverty alleviation, and reforming health systems.

The first step was done on 05 June 2020 by sending a train with goods from China to Tashkent on a new railway track. The line was laid bypassing Kazakhstan and has the following feature: on the way, in Xinjiang, the freight will be loaded onto cars, transported to Kyrgyz Osh, and from there again by rail to Tashkent.

And on June 7, Uzbekistan announced a large-scale program to repair roads in the Fergana region. Local mass media reported that it is about 20 thousand kilometers of roads. This program also directly relates to the Chinese project “The Belt and Road”. The project is a little bit delaying due to COVID-19 but it has a promising future!

Silk Road and tourism

According to a brand ranking research of 2019, the brand “Silk Road” left behind the brand “Google”. Because “Silk Road” word reminds modern men “1001 nights” and everybody wants to make a lifetime experience by visiting its legendary cities.

Traveling by route of Silk Road, started by Marco, nowadays traveling over Silk Road destinations is becoming a fashion among travelers to do by motorcycles, bicycles, trains, campers, retro cars, private jets, etc.

Below we are pleased to offer you our Central Asian tours which include the major legendary cities of the Great Silk Road. We can confidentially call them Silk Road tours!