Shimmering desert towns, ornate UNESCO-listed palaces, stark soviet towers and bizarre oil-boom buildings vie for attention as the history of the ancient trading routes between east and west unfolds.
Stretching all the way from China to the Mediterranean, the Silk Road is a historic and cultural marvel. Caravans laden with, amongst many other things, gold, ivory, spices, furs, jade, exotic animals and of course, silk, trundled along the vast network of trade routes that made up the road for nearly two millennia. Not only were goods transported on the route but it also acted as a bridge that brought cultures and ideas together; Islam and Buddhism reached China thanks to the Silk Road while it facilitated the spread of Persian, Greek, Roman, Indian, Arabian and Chinese influences around the world.
The ancient city of Kashgar in China is a wonderful stopover sat at the junction of two old Silk Road routes. With its hodgepodge architecture, diverse ethnic variety and bustling bazaar – said to be the oldest in Asia – it is like stepping back into the heyday of the road.
It is still possible to discover the romance and legacy of the Silk Road today and due to its length can be sampled from any number of fascinating countries. The longest overland journey on the route is between Xian, the home of China’s Army of Terracotta Warriors, and the mystical Istanbul. Other good starting points include the captivating cities of Almaty, Tashkent, Tehran and Damascus. However you choose to travel the Silk Road you are guaranteed an evocative, enlightening and unforgettable travel experience.
Travel by road or by rail and discover the Silk Road’s hidden gems, from crumbling caravanserais and magnificent Madrasahs to jagged mountain peaks and vast timeless deserts.