The Golden Journey to Samarkand

John Lawton visits the fabled cities of the Silk Road.

Samarkand, by Richard-Karl Karlovitch Zommer.‘For the lust of knowing what should not be known,’ wrote British poet-diplomat James Elroy Flecker, ‘we make the Golden Journey … to divine Bukhara and happy Samarkand.’ Marlowe, Milton and Keats wrote about these legendary Silk Road cities too – though none of them had been there. In fact, so remote were Samarkand and Bukhara behind their natural barriers of deserts and mountains, and artificial ones of politics and religion that, until quite recently, they were visited only rarely by Western travellers. 

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