Joanna Lumley's Silk Road Adventure
Saga are proud sponsors of Joanna Lumley’s new 4-part ITV series following the Silk Road. This latest globetrotting adventure sees her travel some 12,000km across one of the trade networks of the Silk Road, starting in Venice and ending in China.
Use our interactive map below to follow in Joanna Lumley's footsteps along the ancient Silk Road and discover more about our inspiring holidays...
Italy was the end of the line for the European section of the Silk Road – or the start, depending on the direction travelled. Venice was the most significant of places within the country, with much of the trade coming in by boat along the maritime route. The evolution of the Silk Road later included a rail route from Mortara in northern Italy to Chengdu in China.
Albania was part of a maritime route of the Silk Road. This route began in Egypt and crossed the Red Sea and Indian Ocean to reach India, where it then travelled on to Eastern Europe, through Albania, Azerbaijan and Georgia, before ending in Rome. The maritime Silk Road was sometimes confused with the Southeast Asian maritime trade, Spice trade, and the Arabian naval trade network.
Turkey played a significant role in the development of the Silk Road. Anatolia, now modern-day Turkey, bridged the East to the West and was a key gateway into Europe. Its people made major improvements to the route and following the rise of the Ottoman Empire, trade began to prosper. Part of the caravan trail in Turkey from Cappaocia to Konya is still visible today.
There has been historic debate in Georgia’s involvement in the ancient Silk Road, however there are recordings that some routes branched off and travelled through Uplistsikhe – one of the oldest archaeological sites in the world. Its route lost its importance over time but in 2014 Georgia signed a free trade agreement with China for an all new Silk Road to run through Georgia.
Armenia lies on the meeting point between the East and the West and was a busy area for trade exchange on the Silk Road. The route from Armenia to China was relatively unknown until its discovery by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Artashat was the main Armenian town on the Silk Road and was the gateway to the Black Sea ports.
Jordan lies on the route between the Middle East and Africa, making it an important intercontinental point on the Silk Road. The hidden city of Petra was a key trading point for spices, silk and slaves and travellers had to pay taxes to pass through, including protection money. This money was used to develop Petra into a busy city. The city was later abandoned after several earthquakes.
The Silk Road starts at the border of China and cuts across the south of Kazakhstan, travelling through the cities of Sayram, Yassy, Otrar, Taraz before heading on to Central Asia, Persia, the Caucasus and then Europe. Trade that was carried across this included medicines, silk rice, exotic goods such as animal horns and even weapons.
Uzbekistan is widely known as the ‘Heart of the Silk Road’. It’s located in at the centre of Eurasian continent, where a number of the routes, including the main route and several of its tributaries pass directly through. Samarkand was a key trading area and a point where civilisations emerged and developed.
Unlike that of many of its neighbours, the Silk Road has remained largely unchanged over the years in terms of its geography in Kyrgyzstan. It has its close proximity to the Tien-Shan and Pamir mountains to thank for this. A number of monuments preserving the history of the Silk Road still exist today across the route. These include Kumbez Manas, caravanserai “Tash-Rabat” (9th century) and Burana Tower.
There are 12 significant trade sites in India that form part of the Silk Road. These are now UNESCO World Heritage sites and are scattered across seven Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Kashmir, Jammu, Punjab, Maharashtra, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. A lot of the trade came to India across the Bay of Bengal.
China is the origin of the Silk Road. Established during the Han Dynasty of China, the Silk Road was created as an ancient trade route between China and Rome, connecting East to West. It’s the longest trade route in the world and has a number of routes ad networks. China has recently proposed a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – modernising these old routes with bullet trains and highways.