Samarkand, , Uzbekistan, a city in the Zeravshan River valley in the southern part of the country. Samarkand is an industrial city in a fertile agricultural area. It is served by an airport and railway. The city has a university, an opera company, and a ballet company.
Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia and has remains of 14th- and 15th-century mosques, palaces, and royal tombs. The structures, many of them restored, are notable for their brilliantly colored tile facades. One of the most striking buildings is the Gur Emir, tomb of the Tatar conqueror Tamerlane.
Samarkand, in ancient times called Marakanda, is one of Central Asia's oldest cities. The city was ruled mainly by Persians from about 500 B.C. until it fell to the Arab Muslims about 710 A.D. Papermaking was supposedly learned by Samarkand Arabs from Chinese prisoners captured in the Muslim victory at Talas in 751.
Samarkand was a major city on the caravan route known as the Silk Road between China and the West. It was largely destroyed by Genghis Khan's Mongols, or Tatars, in their brutal conquest of 1219–20. When Tamerlane started his conquests in the 14th century, he made Samarkand his capital and built it into a magnificent city. It was a center of Islamic culture for several centuries. In 1868 Samarkand was taken by the Russians. It was the capital of the Uzbek republic from 1924 until 1930.
Population: About 400,000.