7 Tidbits About Silk Route Countries

7 Tidbits About Silk Route Countries

Did You Know?The era of the Silk Road lasted about 1,600 years, beginning in the 2nd century BC. However, this iconic network of ancient trade routes didn’t get its popular name until 1877, when a German geographer, Ferdinand von Richthofen, first referred to it as the “Silk Route.”

Here are seven more tidbits about Silk Road countries:

1. Uzbekistan 
The world’s second-largest collection of Russian avant-garde art is in western Uzbekistan at the amazing Savitsky Art Museum. Its founder, Igor Savitsky, rescued thousands of banned avant-garde Russian art pieces from the disapproving Soviets.

The world learned of Uzbekistan's secret Savitsky Museum in the documentary, "Desert of Forbidden Art" <br>Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

The world learned of Uzbekistan’s secret Savitsky Art Museum in the documentary, “Desert of Forbidden Art”
Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

2. Turkmenistan 
The Kara Kum Desert takes up 80% of this sparsely populated country. There are hidden treasures – countless archaeological sites that lie half-buried under these desert sands. “Kara Kum” means “black sands.”

Silk Route stars, dromedaries (one hump) once carried Lawrence of Arabia; today it's intrepid travelers <br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Silk Route stars, dromedaries (one hump) once carried Lawrence of Arabia; today it’s intrepid travelers
Photo credit: Michel Behar

3. Tajikistan 
Mountainous Tajikistan is one of the last undiscovered travel destinations, with scenery as gorgeous as can be seen anywhere in the world. Afraid of heights? The country’s Pamir Highway  is the world’s second-highest altitude international highway at 15,272 feet, climbing both dizzying Kyzyl-Art Pass and Ak-Baital Pass.

4. Kyrgyzstan 

Kyrgystan’s beautiful Lake Issyk-Kul is the second-largest high-altitude lake in the world, after Titicaca. A slightly saline lake with no outlet, Issyk-Kul means “warm lake,” referring to the fact that it never freezes, despite its high elevation.

Kyrgyzstan's Lake Issyk-kul has long been a Silk Route stopover for weary travelers, then and now  <br>Photo credit: Vladimir Ushakov

Kyrgyzstan’s Lake Issyk-kul has long been a Silk Route stopover for weary travelers 
Photo credit: Vladimir Ushakov

5. Kazakhstan 
Almost as large as all of Western Europe, Kazakhstan is home to semi-nomadic herders who make good use of their arid steppe that fully covers one-third of the country. It’s also Central Asia’s wealthiest country, mainly because of its vast supplies of oil and gas.

6. Iran 

For many of us the year is 2015, but in Iran (and Afghanistan) it’s 1392, with New Year’s celebrated on the vernal equinox in springtime. The Iranian calendar begins with the year that the prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina – 622 AD in the Gregorian calendar.

Young girls in Isfahan, Iran <br>Photo credit: Peter Guttman

Young women in Isfahan, Iran
Photo credit: Peter Guttman

7. Western China 
The Xinjiang Regional Museum is best known for its collection of mummies and other preserved bodies discovered in area tombs, including the “Luolan Beauty,” the nearly 4,000-year-old body of a woman in fur sandals believed to be of Indo-European descent.

Travel the Silk Route with MIRMIR has been creating and leading tours to Silk Route countries for more than 25 years, with unforgettable signature experiences in these legendary places. You can also book a custom private journey to the Silk Route countries.

Several MIR tours to these Silk Route destinations include:

(Top photo credit: Douglas Grimes – The celestial dome of Turabek-Khanum Mausoleum in Kunya Urgench, Turkmenistan)

PUBLISHED: December 30, 2014

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  • Natacha Marakhowsky Jurgens

    Have a friend leaving with you on 16th July would like to know more about your trip Silkroute