Samarkand . Alexander the Great described the beauty of this city in 329BC. The famous Chinese explorer Xuan Zang remarked on it as a center of international trade and artistry in the 7th century AD. There are operas, poems and plays about Tamerlane, the man who made Samarkand his capital. The imposing mosques, madrassas and tombs built by Timur and his successors have been heavily restored – not, in my mind, a bad thing. Now you can stand in awe and marvel at the skill of the artisans, designers and eingineers responsible for the enormous entrances and domes and the profusion of color on every surface, inside and out.