In the pantheon of truly bloodthirsty leaders, the name Tamerlane hardly strikes recognition in the western world (indeed, as I’m typing this on Microsoft Word, the spell-check dictionary fails to recognize the name). Yet, historians claim this sadistic warlord was responsible for an incredible 17 million deaths as his nomadic warriors hacked and decapitated their way through much of the Central Asia in the late 14th century. His calling card was a gigantic pyramid made from the heads of those whose town he just sacked.
Like all great conquerors, Tamerlane built some rather impressive cities thanks to the loot his army returned home to Uzbekistan with. Fortunately, much of this legacy still remains standing today, waiting to woo the few tourists who venture this far off the beaten path.
Although travel through this region is not the easiest in the world, following in the footsteps of Tamerlane offers some very fascinating rewards. Samarkand, for example, was Tamerlane’s capital. Just check out the blue tile work in the above photo! This place really blew me away when I first visited. It’s hundreds of years old and still as awe-inspiring and mesmerizing as when it was first built.