You're watching Vagabrothers, and this is Uzbekistan.
For a weary traveler on the Silk Road, what could be more important than water? Welcome to Bukhara, the holiest city in Central Asia and a major center of civilization since the 6th century BC, in large part thanks to these ponds known as” hauz.
” Once used for washing, drinking, and socializing, these ponds were connected by canals all across the city, but by the 19th and 20th century, it was starting to get kind of nasty; the water got stagnant.
They became a source of communicable diseases, kind of logical when you're washing and drinking from the same water, and then the Soviets came, filled them all in, and this is one of the last ones in the city.
But they do have these little camels that you can sit on.
It's kind of fun.
Giddy-up! As an oasis on the Silk Road, this had the first mosque in Central Asia.
It became a major center of learning with over 200 universities and the most scholars after Bagdad.
It was known as the “City of a Thousand Merchants, ” and it's home to Central Asia's oldest Jewish community.
And to be completely honest, it reminds me of Tatooine.
Where are the Droids? Here in Bukhara a lot of the trading is centered under these gigantic domes.
It's low season right now, so a lot of shops are closed, but there's still a lot of cool stuff.
Right here in this one, they sell a lot of men's head wear.
Hats are popular with guys because as an Islamic country, most of the women are wearing hijab and so hats are more for men.
But Alex has found some musical instruments over here, which is going to start jamming Your loudest person in Central Asia.
It's too quiet here.
First and foremost, what's the connection between Bukhara and rugs? In the world there were five big schools of carpets and one of the most biggest trading places, Bukhara, was the carpets of Bukhara.
There were Persian rugs; there were Indochina; there were Turkish, Caucasian.
It was more like a brand like you say this way.
Yeah, Bukhara was very famous with the carpets of Bukhara because of the technology.
I live in a house that has hardwood floors.
I like my hardwood floors, and as a person who doesn't really own carpets or rugs, I've always wondered why they're so expensive.
Can you explain why? Because 85% money you pay for the carpet is the labor.
A carpet, a handmade carpet, may take minimum of three months, like a new one because they need to set up the loom first and make pegs.
Three for girls to size these big ones.
Three or four years.
It depends on material, silk or wool, number of knots per square centimeter, which means quality, density, and the design.
how intricate colors.
And carpets in Bukhara in the world, they used to buy not only for heating or things like this, but also it was like an investment.
Then until now, it's the same.
You buy the carpet.
If it's a real handmade, good carpet, it passes from generation to generation.
And it grows in value.
It grows in value.
Even with whatever discounts, I've realized I've got champagne taste and beer income.
Unless we do an episode of Basic Versus Baller here, and I win Baller, probably not going to buy a carpet on this trip.
These ones here are in the $40, 000 to $50, 000 range.
I really love the details and the kind of faded look that go really well with modern houses.
This one here has been dyed with saffron.
That's one of the most expensive and luxurious seasonings for food.
It's very, very rare, and they use it to dye entire carpet to give it this sort of saffron colored tint.
And this one right here.
This is about fifty thousand bucks.
I mean the geometrical designs, the floral patterns, beautiful colors.
These dyes are all local from indigo, and it is overall really, really nice and worth the price.
Tied up with the exchange of goods was the exchange of ideas.
People overlook that, but religions traveled just as easily across the Silk Roads as did luxury items, like silk.
You had Buddhism spread through here, Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism, all had a place here in this city.
And tonight we're going to go hang out with one of the oldest Jewish communities in Central Asia, the Bukhari Jews.
Well, we are kind of navigating the back streets of Bukhara.
Pretty incredible though.
The walls on some of the older buildings are still like wattle and daub, which is essentially mud and hay.
We are heading to a synagogue.
Bukhara has one of the oldest populations of Jews in Central Asia, and we're going to have a unique experience and some dinner.
This synagogue was built in the late 1700s, and it was renovated in the mid 1800s.
But in 1938, Stalin declared that the synagogues needed to close.
So they were closed until 1991 when Uzbekistan became independent from the Soviet Union, and the synagogue was renovated to its current state.
People are starting to arrive after work for the service, and we've got this beautiful meal in front of us.
There's a lot of pickled varieties of like beets, carrots, cucumber, potato salad, some fritters.
Yeah, some fruit.
And of course Coca-Cola, not to mention kosher vodka.
So this will be interesting I think we have a main course coming after this.
But for now, I think it's time to sample some of these salads.
Thank you We have just finished the meal, and we're sitting here at a table in a synagogue in Central Asia during Hanukkah, and we are sharing a meal with people of the Jewish faith, people of Islam, and people of Christianity, and I think that it's just a very unique amazing moment for all of us here.
This is the Ark.
It's a fifth century citadel, and it's been a point of geopolitical conflict for centuries.
When we think of the “stans, ” we often think of the Cold War, the U.
versus the Soviet Union, but this place really got to a famous moment in history during what was known as the “Great Game.
” The Great Game is the nickname for the geopolitical struggle between the Czars of Russia and the British Empire, which by the 1800s stretched all the way around the world and was pushing up from India all the way to Afghanistan, which is right next door.
The Czars were worried and so were the local emirs here in Uzbekistan.
So the British sent Colonel Stoddart of the British East India Company here to reassure the local emir whose nickname was “The Butcher.
” Unfortunately, things went wrong, thanks to a couple mistakes Stoddart made, that led him to be the subject of newspapers around the world.
Here's what went down.
Even though Colonel Stoddard brought a message from Queen Victoria saying that the British would not invade the kingdom, he made three fatal mistakes that would cost him his life.
First: he rode his horse all the way up into the citadel, something that only the emir was allowed to do.
They let that slide.
But then he also didn't bring a gift, common courtesy anywhere, and third, he turned his back on the emir, a major breach of protocol that he was certainly warned about.
All this reeked of arrogance and the emir threw him into a torture chamber known as the “Bug Pit.
” This is the Bug Pit, six and a half meter deep hole with an iron grid on top.
The guards would come by and chuck scorpions and spiders and all other things that go bump in the night, basically making the worst form of solitary confinement imaginable.
Stoddart was down here for a full year by himself until the Queen sent the second guy, Conley, to come get him.
He was also chucked in the pit and both were executed four years later because Queen Victoria never sent a response to the emir's letter.
That's a pretty crappy way to go.
What could inspire mercy in the heart of Genghis Khan? The guy literally conquered everything between China and Europe, destroying everything in his path except for this minaret.
Behind me is the Kalon Minaret, a forty-nine meter tower of baked brick nicknamed the “Tower of Death.
” Why, you might ask yourself? Well, over the centuries it's been used as an observatory, for the call to prayer, but also for executions.
Think of it as an Uzbek version of the moon door in the Tower of Eyrie.
But don't worry.
Nobody's been pushed out in ninety-eight years.
What a view.
Now this place was even taller when Genghis Khan arrived.
Eleven meters are still buried underground.
And according to legend, it was so tall that when he arrived here, he took a look all the way to the top and it was so big, it knocked his hat backwards onto the floor.
They also say that he spared this tower, even though he destroyed the rest of the city, because he used it as a landmark while riding back and forth across Asia.
Either way we somehow got the backstage ticket to come all the way the top of the tower.
So do not attempt at home, but do enjoy this marvelous view.
What a fascinating place.
Bukhara is beautiful.
It's got tons of history, and I really had a great time here.
It's kind of like that broken down palace beauty.
It's obviously seen better days, but it's beautiful in the fact that when you come here, it definitely feels like time travel.
It feels like you're taking a step back in time to a different world, a different universe when this place was quite literally at the center of the world.
I really enjoyed having dinner at the synagogue with the Bukhari Jewish community.
The Jewish Diaspora is something that's really fascinating because there're these core traditions that everyone has maintained, but they've also adopted local traditions, as well.
And so to come to Central Asia, to see one of the oldest Jewish communities in in this part of the world was fascinating.
Yeah, it was really cool.
It was like we were sitting at a table breaking bread with the Jewish faith, the Islamic faith, Christians.
It was just a really cool moment of everybody getting along, everybody having a good time, and sharing insight and perspectives.
So what was your favorite thing? Climbing to the top of the minaret was amazing.
I mean what a perspective, what a crazy opportunity.
Nobody really gets to do that.
There's not a lot of people going up there.
There were like the carcasses of birds because a peregrine falcon lives up there, and it just felt like a moment from Assassin's Creed, honestly.
It was beautiful too, especially at night.
The lights really illuminated the details on the tower and made you realize just how fascinating it was.
And it's just like this place has got tons of amazing crafts, from the stonework there to the rugs that we saw.
Everything here has been really beautiful.
So if you guys like this video, please give it a big thumbs- up, subscribe to our channel if you have not already, If you're interested in Uzbekistan then stay tuned because we still have a couple more episodes to go in this series.
And we're going on some serious time travel next.
So stay tuned.
As we always say.
stay curious, keep exploring, and we'll see you on the road.