Afrasiab mural © Public Domain
The ancient fort-city of Afrasiab - thought to have been occupied between 500 BC and 1220 AD - was an important stop along the Silk Road, and the centre of the Sogdian Empire. These days, the site is an archaeological marvel, simply emanating the 2,500 years of human history it has borne witness to. No traveller to modern-day Samarkand should leave without visiting the museum at Afrasiab, which is full of fascinating artefacts, including ornamental earthenware crockery, tools, coins, terracotta statuettes - and most spectacular of all, enormous mural paintings rescued from the palace of a Sogdian ruler in the 7th century, depicting sieges and caravan troupes. By all accounts, a visit to Afrasiab is a truly humbling experience, where ancient history feels tangible, and one is able to reflect on the long and incredible passage of human civilisation.
Address: Northern Samarkand