Shakhrisabz is situated 80 km south of Samarkand, beyond the alpine pass of Takhta-Karacha. In 329 BC Alexander the Great conquered the city and soon Hellenistic culture and cult of the Greek gods appeared there. In the course of the millennium, Shakhrisabz was under the rule of different dynasties, and in the 8th century, it was the center of the anti-Arab and anti-Islamic revolt.
Shakhrisabz, the capital of the ancient state of Sogd was named after Kesh. Amir Temur (Tamerlane) was born in the neighbouring village of Hodja-Ilgar. He turned Shakhrisabz into his residence and ordered to build the palace, which is now known as Ak-Saray (White palace).
The historical center of the city is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This has caused the government to be planning the city buildings for years to conserve ancient Shakhrisabz monuments for decades to come.
Meanwhile, the economy of the city is concentrated on cotton processing, preservation, agricultural machinery manufacture and handicrafts. Shakhrisabz is renowned for its peculiar carpet weaving, fine embroidery, tubeteikas (Uzbek caps). Other than the handicrafts industry that held a long-years history, Shakhrisabz is also famous for its brand wine, which took first places on international wine competitions.
Looking at the well-maintained and modernized appearance, it is difficult to believe that Shakhrisabz is 2700 years old and played a significant role in the history of the Central Asian region.
This city is located on the Great Uzbek Highway, which repeats the route of the Italian traveller and trader Marco Polo. It is located about 55 miles south of the town of Samarkand, toward the Afghanistan border. The 2-hour drive from Samarkand to Shakhrisabz is spectacular. On the way, towering mountains in the distance dominate the scenery and lush green vegetation stretches from every direction.