Travelling The Silk Road
What is The Silk Road?
The Silk Road is a vast and ancient network of trade routes that were used for centuries to connect the East and the West, stretching all the way from Japan to the Mediterranean sea. Despite its name, the Silk Road was used to trade many things besides silk, such as spices. The Silk Road is even credited with the spread of various technologies, knowledge and culture. Its routes spread over both land and sea and cross through many countries, each one totally unique. With four main routes; Northern, Southern, South-Western and Maritime, you can choose which you would like to follow, all of which will recreate the journeys of ancient tradesmen visiting fascinating countries along the way. Art was among everything else which spread along the Silk Road and fascinating works can be seen all along the route. Take in the incredible culture, art, music, food, landscapes, history and people along The Silk Road.
History of The Silk Road
Built as an extension of the existing Steppe Route, which was used to trade specially bred horses, The Silk Road was originally the route used by the Persians to check up on their vast empire, taken by force in many battles. By 329 BC, it had been commandeered by Alexander The Great to expand the mighty Greek Empire. Eventually (more than 3 centuries later!) China snatched control over The Silk Road, transforming it into the trade route for silk that it is known as today. Before long, the road passed over to the control of the Romans and their rapidly growing empire where it flourished. After this, the Silk Road stayed much the same, despite its control by many different empires and rulers, until its eventual decline in the 18th century. Parts of the route are still used today, but The Silk Roads main reputation is now one of cultural discovery. It’s not hard to see why its holds a special place on the bucket lists of so many travellers. Where else can you find such a variety of countries, cultures and people?
Where to go along The Silk Road
The Silk Road spans so many countries and it is this vast area that makes it so worth visiting. While visiting every country along the way is the ideal trip, this would take some time. But don’t worry, you won’t be stuck for choice, with over 160 cities to choose from and countless more towns, villages and historical sites to boot. Here are just a few must-see sites along the way to make sure you make the most of your time, no matter how long you plan on travelling The Silk Road.
- For ancient culture, architecture and history in a relatively undiscovered gem, why not visit Uzbekistan? Explore the oriental town of Khiva and its beautiful, traditional architecture. Drive through the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and on into Bukhara and see a mosque from the eleventh century. You could even travel through the five affectionately termed ‘Stans’, made up of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and take in everything that they have to offer.
- Visit Mongolia and improve your horse riding with the nomadic horse trainers that live traditional lives in rural Mongolia. Learn about their daily lives and the techniques that they use to train the horses that they breed here. Take in the stunning landscapes of Mongolia that are truly unbeatable.
- Stop off in Xi’an China to see the beginning of the original Silk Road. Discover the unmissable Great Wall of China or visit the museum here which is home to the famous terracotta warriors.
- Iran is an unmissable option for anyone fascinated by culture. As a beautiful, colourful country, filled with ancient history, art, cuisine and tradition, you’ll feel as though you’re on a cultural discovery from the moment you set food on Iranian soil.
- Travel on the Southern route, all the way into Northern India and see the breathtaking ancient Buddhist ruins at Vaishali, as well as meeting the people who live here and learning about their everyday lives and practices.
- Take the Eastern Route of The Silk Road and visit Nara, Japan. Nara is famous for food and is home to many of Japan’s top restaurants and michelin starred establishments. Taste traditional food or modern, high end cuisine in a fascinating destination that you won’t forget in a hurry.