By using our site you agree to the use of cookies. We use them to increase the quality of this site especially for you, they help us understand your needs (help us collect statistics), help our partners deliver the right content displayed on our website. To learn more about the cookies please click here.


Ark Fortress in Buchara

The oldest architectural and archaeological monument in Buchara, the Ark Fortress, was erected over 1.5 thousand year ago, yet to this day, it presents itself as a colossal citadel. For many centuries, this structure not only did protect the developing Buchara but also served as the main residence for local rulers. In various periods, beyond the walls of the keep, the court of Euchara emirs was inhabited by famous personas such as Omar Khayyam, Ferdousi, Abu Ali Ibn Sina, Al-Farabi and many others.

History of the Ark Fortress

Prehistoric Buchara situated on the Silk Road was considered for a long time one of the most important cities in the Middle East. The well-developed economic and cultural centre obviously required a fortress that would keep the city and its rules safe from various external enemies. Ark Citadel Fortress is of a similar age of Buchara itself and most likely the first attempts to form any fortifications inside the city were taken as early as in 500 BC, under the rule of Persian king Cyrus II the Great. Later, the fortress underwent a number of devastations and renovations, and by the turn of the 6th century it was already a quite massive citadel serving as a residence for local rulers. Over time, centuries-old layers formed as a result of previous earth and clay fortifications being destroyed transformed into a man-made hill, allowing Ark Citadel Fortress to overlook the plains. (more in the History section)

What can you see?

At present, the Citadel in Buchara covers an area of about 4 hectares and is located on a man-made hill 6 metres high. In various eras, steep vertical walls of the Ark Fortress were covered with various materials: in antiquity with a thick layer of clay, later the clay was replaced with a dry brick, whereas the foundation of the castle and its tower were made using fired brick. The length of the castle walls is about 800 metres while the height of the preserved fragments ranges from 16 to 20 metres. The citadel has gained its present look in the 16th century under the rule of the Sheybanids. At that time, it had two entrances. Only the western gate facing the Registan Square was preserved to this day. ‘Registan’ literally translates to ‘a sandy place’, since in the old ages the square used to be laid with sandstone so that the earth present at the side would not turn into dust in hot summer season or to mud in rainy season.

At the time when the fortress was blooming, it was inhabited by nearly 3000 people, making the citadel a true city inside a city. In the early 20th century, it housed palaces of the emir, his mother and wives, a harem of mistresses and residential buildings for his numerous relatives. The area beyond the castle walls was inhabited by high-ranking officials and commanders with their families. Obviously, the keep also housed a massive number of servants and craftsmen who tended to the needs of the ruler and his court. Also, minarets, baths, workshops, armoury, treasury and separate warehouses for weapons, clothes, carpets and vessels were also built. Out of the complex of castle buildings only few have been preserved to this day, such as the minarets Battol-Gozi and khilduchtaron in the eastern part or the Honako minaret and ruins of emir’s baths in the southern part of the keep. At present, the Ark Citadel houses various exhibitions of several branches of a museum-reserve: a historical exhibition, which covers a long period from the prehistoric times to the 20th century; a numismatic branch collection; an exhibition of literary works; an exhibition of a natural science branch of Buchara oasis and others.

Ark Fortress in Buchara can be visited

all days of the week – from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.