City in south-central Uzbekistan, on the Zerevshan River 220 km/137 mi east of Samarkand; population (2014 est) 272,500. A historic city with over 140 protected buildings, it was once the heart of Muslim Central Asia, and second only to Mecca as an Islamic holy site. It is the capital of the Bukhara province of Uzbekistan, which has given its name to a type of handwoven carpet. Textiles, including rugs and carpets, are manufactured here (though ‘Bukhara’ carpets are now principally made in Ashgabat, in Turkmenistan). Natural gas is extracted in the surrounding region, and cotton is grown extensively.
Two cities Bukhara consists of two separate cities. The new city, known since 1935 as Kagan, lies 13 km/8 mi to the east, and has railway workshops, and a cotton-processing industry. The old city is the administrative centre of the province and is thought to have been founded no later than the 1st century AD, and was under the control of the Arabs and Persians from the early 8th–10th centuries. Later, in the 16th century, it was made the capital of the independent khanate of Bukhara, which was annexed to Russia in 1868. Old Bukhara was a thriving market centre for the products of Russia, Persia, India, and China, and also manufactured its own silk, cotton, and leather goods, and cutlery. Among the buildings of historical and architectural significance in the old town are an ancient royal fortress, several mosques, and former Islamic theological colleges (madrasahs).