UPDATED September 6, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Silk Route

no comments

UPDATED September 6, 2023

BY Guest Author

IN Silk Route

no comments

The Culture of Uzbekistan – Breaking Bread On The Silk Route


Nick Coe is the Content Creator for the 2023 Silk Route Cycling Expedition. In his third report he examines the culture of Uzbekistan and the importance of bread in people’s daily lives.

While traveling through Uzbekistan, it became obvious that the country and its people take great pride in their cultural heritage. Located in the heart of Central Asia, three of the country’s ancient cities stand as living testaments to the grandeur of the Silk Road: Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. These cities have kept their old towns in pristine condition, a situation that allows them to display their cultural importance. While exploring these cities, one can see they are managing to balance modernization and preservation in a way that is unique to Uzbekistan.


Here, bread is life...or life is bread.

Bukhara, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, has an unwavering commitment to preserving its historical architecture, where each corner tells a story. They range from the bustling bazaars, where merchants once traded silk and spices, to the serene courtyards of madrasas, where scholars studied and debated. The history is so embedded in the old town, you can’t go anywhere without noticing it! The lucky TDA riders even had the opportunity to stay in the old towns in each of these cities. Tourism thrives because of this appreciation for cultural heritage. By keeping the old cities alive, the people of Uzbekistan maintain a strong connection to their past, reinforcing their identity.

Uzbek bread

Another way Uzbekistan is maintaining heritage is through bread. Yes, bread. Here, bread is life…or life is bread. Food shapes culture and one cannot overlook the essential role that bread plays in shaping the culinary heritage of the region. The heart and soul of Uzbekistan’s bread culture lie in the tandir, a traditional clay oven that has been used for centuries to bake the country’s iconic round and flatbreads.

This culture goes beyond mere sustenance; it’s a reflection of history, community, and the art of craftsmanship. That is extremely relatable to the TDA riders on the Silk Route, as we have enjoyed circular bread during almost every meal. The process of making bread is steeped in tradition, and the art of bread-making is often passed down through generations. It is more than just a staple; it’s a symbol of hospitality and warmth. When you visit an Uzbek restaurant, you’ll always get bread – no questions asked.

Cooking bread in the tandir

During our stay camping near a restaurant in the desert , the TDA group was able to witness the process of making bread in the tandir. We have noticed an interesting aspect about bread here – it is never thrown out. I believe that this culture offers a unique perspective on how a seemingly simple act like not wasting bread can hold such profound significance. In this land of intricate tapestries and architectural marvels, the act of cherishing every morsel of bread reflects a deep-rooted value system and an important connection to the past.

Throughout its history, Uzbekistan’s geographical location as a crossroads on the Silk Road has influenced its culture and traditions. In a land where resources were sometimes scarce, every crumb counts. The practice of utilizing bread to its fullest extent emerged as a necessity-driven approach, ensuring that no sustenance was squandered. According to our local guide Fazli, bread “embodies values such as gratitude, humility, and community.” We have been gifted bread many, many times during our journey. This gesture can symbolize many ideas, but I believe it fosters a sense of unity and welcome to locals and travellers alike.


Silk Route

Starting in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and finishing in Istanbul, Türkiye this legendary cycling adventure will take riders along the ancient silk trading...


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