Ark Citadel was built at Bukhara in 5 century and since then it was the residence of Bukhara rulers. For 1,5 thousand years of its existence the fortress was often destroyed but even now it impresses by its size and magnificence.
The fortress enclosed by rectangular walls occupies the area of some 4 hectares, where there are located the ruler`s palace, his harem, stables, prison and several other administrative institutions. In 1920 the Ark Citadel was almost completely destroyed by the Red Army, and by now there were restored only several buildings housing historical and archaeology museums.
There are many versions as to the date when the Ark Citadel was founded. All guides tell the legend about the Ark Citadel being built by the mythical Iranian prince Siyavush, who fell in love with the daughter of the tzar Turan. The tzar promised the young man that he would marry his daughter, if he could build a palace on the area bounded by a bull skin. But Siyavush proved more cunning. He cut the hide into thin strips, connected the ends, and inside this boundary built the palace.
According to the results of the archaeological diggings, there were some buildings on the site of the Ark Citadel even before the beginning of our era (B.C.), however, it is more likely that a full-blown fortress was shaped only by the 5 century A.D.
The walls of the Ark Citadel, reaching the height of 20 meters, were almost completely restored and might give you some idea about the greatness of this defensive structure. The walls of the citadel are retreating so that they couldn’t approach it with siege towers. You must ascend the walls to have a wonderful view of the Old Town of Bukhara and the Poi Kalyan. On the other side you can see the park with the Samanids Mausoleum and the city walls of Bukhara.
The best preserved is the main entrance to the Ark Citadel, as well as the gate mosque Juma, dating back to 17 century. At the entrance there located the residence of the prime minister. By all means should you visit a museum located at the ancient zindan (prison), and the history museum of Bukhara.