As with half the cities of Central Asia, the founding of the ancient city of Termez is traditionally attributed to the ubiquitous Alexander the Great. Greek troops did indeed conquer this former Achaemenid satrapy in 330-327 ВС and soon set about building a line of fortresses to defend their distant and tenuous outposts, but there is little hard evidence to show that Alexander himself ever set foot in Termez. The settlement's more prosaic origins are more likely to lie instead on the banks of the Oxus, where a large island and shallows offered a convenient crossing of the mile-wide river.
Modern-day Termiz (population 130,000) bears few traces of its colourful cosmopolitan history. However, set in attractive landscapes on the fringes of town are some ancient monuments and sites attesting to more glorious times.
Throughout its illustrious and epic history, Termez has played the role of political and cultural chameleon, switching roles, religions, allegiances and even locations with the consummate ease of a circus performer. Gather its faded stars under one tool and sit back to watch Buddhist monks discuss philosophy with Mongol invaders, Greek garrison guards ogle Soviet tanks and Bactrian Silk Road traders talk shop with modern Afghan entrepreneurs. Over the centuries bridges have become borders and then become bridges again, heartlands have faded to backwaters and cosmopolitan Silk Road junctions have shriveled into a forgotten corner of a neglected republic. Termez is nothing but a survivor.