Nukus

Nukus is the capital of the Republic of Karakalpastan situated in the north-west of Uzbekistan. Karakalpakstan is an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan. Nukus is also the sixth-largest city in Uzbekistan. The population here reaches up to 319 thousand people.

Nukus was founded in the place of the old settlement Shurcha. According to archaeologists, this settlement existed from 4th century BC to 4th century A.D.  In the 60s of the 19th century in the same place appeared aul Nukus. The name “Nukus” comes from the old tribal name of the Karakalpaks, which is also connected with the name of the river Amu-Darya (“Oxus” in Latin). From 1932 Nukus turned from the small settlement into a large, modern city.

Nowadays Nukus is well known for its Museum of Art. A lot of specialists consider the art collection here to be the best in the Asian region. The State Art Museum of Karakalpakstan after Igor Savitsky or Nukus Museum of Art houses unique and original pieces of modern and historical art. There are artefacts from archaeological investigations, traditional costumes, jewellery and musical instruments, collection of Russian and Uzbek modern art from 1918-1935. The latter is to be noted because Stalin wanted to eliminate all the non-Soviet art of the period. The collection survived because of the city’s remoteness from Soviet authorities and their influence. Igor Savitsky was the person who saved tens of thousands of avant-garde artworks from the Soviet authorities who tried to force spreading socialist realism. Thanks to him nowadays you can visit and admire one of the world’s finest collections of Russian avant-garde art in the remote city of Nukus.

There is also an American-made documentary about the museum and Savitsky’s life, which brought international attention to this small city and its hidden treasure. The movie is called “The Desert of Forbidden Art” (2010). You can also learn more about the museum on their official website.

Other city sights include Nekropolis Mizdahkhan, which is a cemetery situated on three hills near Nukus and some people believe that the tomb of Adam is there. Zoroastrians, on the other hand, claim that the Gayomarda-the first man of Zoroastrian mythology is buried there. The mystic stories are spread about the area because during excavations different objects were found. You can also visit Kavat-Kala fortress, Shamun-Nabi Mausoleum, see the Amudarya River. Nukus might also serve as a good base for visits to the Aral Sea or Kunya-Urgench.

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