Cities along the Silk Roads

Samarkand, Uzbekistan © Irtqaa Tehreem Kainaat / UNESCO Youth Eyes on the Silk Roads

Cities grew up along the Silk Roads as essential hubs of trade and exchange, here merchants and travellers came to stop and rest their animals and begin the process of trading their goods. From Xi’an in China to Bukhara in Uzbekistan, from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Venice in Italy, cities supplied the ports and markets that punctuated the trade routes and gave them momentum. After travelling for weeks on end across inhospitable deserts and dangerous oceans, cities provided an opportunity for merchants to rest, to sell and buy, and moreover, to meet with other travellers, exchanging not only material goods but also skills, customs, languages and ideas. In this way, over time, many Silk Roads cities attracted scholars, teachers, theologians and philosophers, and thus became great centres for intellectual and cultural exchange forming the building blocks of the development of civilizations throughout history.

The Silk Roads online platform provides an inventory of the major cities along these routes and a brief description of their history and importance in the development of the Silk Roads.

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Cities along the Silk Roads

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