It cannot be said when the Silk Road began. The first mentioning of the route is in the 2nd century BC, but it is thought to have already existed for several hundred years before that date. The main purpose of the Silk Road was to allow an easier merchandise exchange between the Mediterranean countries and the Eastern Asian ones. Despite the fact that not even historians can make an accurate tracing of the origin of this route, the name of “Silk Road” was given by Ferdinand von Richthofen, an eminent German photographer.
The Silk Road was of great advantage for both Europe and Asia. While the Chinese could trade with the Europeans, therefore obtaining an opening to probably the most important market of the world, the latter could easily purchase cotton, tea, and fine silk from China, India, and Arabia, as well. In fact, global development was improved, thanks to the communication and cooperation between Western and Eastern countries.
The development of this route was favoured by the Royal Road through the Persian Empire, but also by the territories conquered by Alexander the Great. Even the most deserted placed flourished, thanks to the route. If the European destination used to fluctuate, changing from Rome, Venice to Constantinople, on the other part of the world the final destination remained the Chinese Empire. However, throughout the years, the route was seen as a major attraction for conquerors, that is why many wars were started. The safety of the Silk Road was threatened by Romans, who were leading wars in Europe, but then Augustus managed to establish a peace treaty. The Byzantine Empire managed to reconquer its territories and therefore gain access to the commercial route. The Mongolian Empire also played an important part, as it helped the Silk Road to extend. Although the main geographical discoveries of the XVth and XVIth centuries shadowed the Silk Route, it still preserved its importance. China uses it for tourism and exploitation of the resources, maintaining its status as a conservative and self-sufficient country. The Silk Road is a point of attraction for nowadays tourists, as well. Getting to know so many cultures and traveling through so many countries is an exciting adventure, in which not many people can take part.No matter what the starting point is, the traveler will definitely be amazed. Having to cross deserts and mountains, the scenery becomes spectacular and intriguing. The ancient road starts at Xian, crosses the Taklimakan desert, oasis, and mountains in India and Central Asia. Two major cities of this area will be encountered down the road, Samarkand and Bukhara, cities that flourished thanks to the Silk Road. However, many tourism agencies have decided to stop the voyage in Uzbekistan, as a result of the current political problems in Iran and Iraq. Many countries in Central Asia have quite an unstable situation, therefore research on the exact situation and regulations would be more than welcome. All in all, an entire month would be necessary to follow the steps of the ancient merchandiser and to cross a continent.
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