BUKHARA, June 21, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping (C,front) and his wife Peng Liyuan visit a carpet and silk workshop in the old city of Bukhara as accompanied by Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoev, in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, June 21, 2016. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
BUKHARA, Uzbekistan, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping toured the Uzbek city of Bukhara, which he called a "shinning pearl on the ancient Silk Road" on Tuesday after arriving here for a state visit.
Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, accompanied by Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, took a detailed tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in central-southern Uzbekistan with great interest.
The Historic Center of Bukhara, situated on the Silk Road, is more than 2,000 years old. It is one of the best examples of well preserved Islamic cities of Central Asia with an urban fabric that has remained largely intact.
Standing on the Ark fortress of Bukhara, Mirziyoyev told Xi history of the city during its prime time on the Silk Road trade corridor.
"The kids in the city were playing with golden coins, in stead of playing with stones like kids elsewhere," the prime minister said.
Now a city culture museum, the Ark fortress, once residence of Bukhara's ancient rulers, hosts a series of antiques and relics including manual scripts of the Koran, art crafts, ancient coins and old weaponry that witnessed the stretching history of the city.
Bukhara was long an important economic and cultural center in Central Asia and served as a major center of Islamic culture for many centuries.
Xi and Peng then visited the Samanid Mausoleum and the Poi Kalyan ensemble, which consists of Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque and Miri Arab Madrasah.
After asking detailed questions on the history and traditions of Bukhara, the Chinese president said the tour gave him more profound understanding of the deep-rooted historical connections between China and Uzbekistan.
Hailing Bukhara as the "shinning pearl on the ancient Silk Road," Xi said the tour will help China and Uzbekistan carry forward the Silk Road spirit, boost the friendship between their two peoples, and jointly promote the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Bukhara was the first stop of Xi's state visit to the Central Asian country.
The Chinese president then traveled to the Uzbek capital Tashkent, where he will hold talks with President Islam Karimov on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues.
In Tashkent, Xi will also attend the 16th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of State on June 23 and 24.
Uzbekistan is the third and final stop of Xi's three-nation tour, which has taken him to Serbia and Poland.