The Ark is a fortified hill in the heart of Bukhara.
Legend has it that the Ark was built by the spiritual hero Siyavush.

The Ark fortress was the center of power of the emirs, wali, khans, and their military strength a symbol of greatness.

This symbol of state power has proudly stood as the entrance to the old city of Bukhara since the 5th century AD. This was the equivalent of Tower of London or Moscow Kremlin.
For nearly 2 centuries, the fortress was the home for Bukhara rulers. Besides emirs, world’s greatest scientists and poets lived and created their masterpieces within the Ark’s walls. Avicenna,Omar Khayyam, Ferdowsi, Rudaki, Farawi
Legend has it; there was a huge library with rare books in the fortress.

The main fortress, the Ark, was almost destroyed by fire in 1920. Only one-third of it remains standing, and you can only imagine the size and the grandeur of this monument and the power of Bukhara emirate back in the day.
The best time to visit the Ark is at sunset. You can see the western part of Bukhara and the famous Samanid park from one of the viewpoints. The Atk walls are touched by the golden colors of sunset and you can see the main monument of Bukhara in all its glory.

Once the site of an infamous slave market, the square in front of it is now peaceful and manicured.

Rulers of Bukhara came and went, but the Ark was the heart of the city.
The Ark houses several museums, a mosque and old stables. You can walk along its walls and the entire territory of the monument.

The Ark Fortress Bukhara

Rulers of Bukhara came and went, but the Ark was the heart of the city.
The Ark houses several museums, a mosque and old stables. You can walk along its walls and the entire territory of the monument.

Throughout its long and dark history, the Ark was destroyed many times, rebuilt or totally rebuilt.Still,there are hardly any monuments in the world that carried its original function for as long as the Ark. It only lost its role as the main fortress of Bukhara in the early twentieth century.

The Prison and the Bug Pit

Zindan means “prison” from persian.
The infamous Zindan prison used to be a part of the Ark, but today it stands aside and requires a short walk if you want to visit the prison.
Zindan was built in the 18th century and was the largest jail of that time.
. The prison is divided into two parts. :
Zindani bolo (upper zindan)
Zindani poyen (lower zindan)

The lower Zindan prisoners resided in a raw hole beneath the Zindan, a so-called Bug Pit, and never left it. The only exception was the death penalty.
The worst part was called kanahona- the hole 6.5 meters deep and 5 meters wide. The prisoners were transported in and out by the rope.
Feces from the stables above were flushed into the Bug Pit through a stone-made funnel. That was to add to the misery of being a Zindan prisoner.
Zindan, the Bug Pit, the chute for flushing feces still remains and you can see it if you visit the dark part of the Ark called Zindan.

The prisoners in the upper part were allowed a few walks per month. Other than that, the conditions were inhumane.