As a trade route, the Silk Road appeared in the 3rd century B.C. and existed till the 16th century. The ancient trade cities which were located along the Silk Road, witnessed numerous devastating wars, destructions, fires, famine and pestilences. Some of those cities fell into oblivion, having left the ruins fanned with legends. Others were blazed, perished and then reborn new and again, in order to amaze, at the end of the day, the world with their riches, with the blue of domes, with openwork terracotta ornament of mausoleums and mosques. Multilingual oriental bazaars fell into silence not for a moment over centuries, for hundreds years silk and precious stones, spices and dyes, gold and silver, exotic southern birds and animals had been transported to Europe through those dusty caravan roads.
The Great Silk Road is one of the most remarkable achievements in the world civilization’s history. The widespread networks of caravan ways crossed Europe and Asia from the Mediterranean to China. In ancient times they served as an important means of trade ties and communication between the East and the West.
The longest and the most strategic part of the Silk Road passed through the territories of Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan. The caravans which were loaded with silk from China, spices and precious stones from India, silver goods from Iran, Byzantine linens, Afrosiab ceramics and many other goods, went through the deserts of Karakum and Kyzyl Kum, through the oases of Merv and Khorezm, through the boundless steppes of Sary-Arka; they overcame the passes of the Pamirs, Tien Shan, Altai and crossed the Murghab, Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers.
Rich cities, trade and craft villages, caravansaries started emerging and flourishing on the caravan roads: in Turkmenistan it was Merv; in Uzbekistan there were Bukhara, Samarkand, Urgench, and Khiva; in Kazakhstan Otrar, Turkestan, Taraz, Ispedzhab emerged; in Kyrgyzstan, Julie, Suyab, Novokent, Balasagun, Borskoon, Tash-Rabat, Osh, Uzgen were established.
European countries closely cooperated and communicated with Asian countries. Hellenic ecumene closed up with the Eastern ecumene. And like two communicating vessels, such different civilizations began to pour their knowledge from one to another. Trade routes were the arteries which connected those vessels. The routes were designed not only for the transportation of goods; throughout the centuries the roads transmitted culture, science, technology and religion between two parts of world. Central Asia which was situated between China and India in the east, between Persia and Arabia in the south, European world in the west, the Volga and Siberia in the north, was at the crossroads of trade routes for almost two thousand years.
Historians believe that one of the first who had described those trade routes, was Zhang Tsanya, Chinese diplomat who lived in the 1st century B.C. A large number of Chinese coins, bronze mirrors, remnants of silk fabrics, fragments of Chinese porcelain which were found at archaeological excavations, witness that during that period Central Asia got involved in trade relations with China., sericulture and production of paper began to develop in Central Asia, as a consequence of China’s influence; in its turn, China adopted the cultivation of grape, alfalfa, onion, cotton, pomegranate, walnut, fig tree and cucumber from Central Asia
In 1355 Bardi Francesca Pagolotti, a humble employee of Florence Trading House, returned back in Italy after eight years of absence, having left behind thousands of Chinese lees, Arab farsahs and European miles of the Great Silk Road. He wrote the "The Practice of Trade, or Essay on Far Lands, Trade Measures, and Other Things, which Merchants of All Countries Need to Know."
The paradox is that this ancient road received its today’s name only in the 19th century. The name was proposed by Ferdinand von Riztgofena, the author of classic works on the physical geography of China and the orography of Asia. The name is widely known today, following his example.
The UNESCO decision on the organization of the "The Great Silk Road: the path of dialogue, mutual understanding and rapprochement of cultures” international program has been warmly welcomed by the world community. The Great Silk Road, like the Phoenix bird, begins its rebirth.
Let's go to the road! And you will see magnificent architecture, familiarize yourself with the picturesque nature, feel hot desert winds, see the blinding mountain peaks, be surprised with the beauty of a soaring bird.
Have a look at the past and you will see then today. Have a nice trip to the great epoch and the legendary Silk Road.
Silk Road Tours - Group and individual tours along the great Silk Road