Samarkand is one of the most ancient cities in the world. He found states and peoples that no longer exist. The heyday of Samarkand fell on the reign of Tamerlane. He made the city the capital of his empire. In addition, many of the architectural beauties of the area were created during that period. The followers of the ruler from the Timurid family continued his work.
How well they have succeeded can be eloquently expressed by UNESCO’s high appraisal. Several architectural complexes are included in the World Heritage List at once. Mausoleums and mosques, even built at different times, look harmonious. And the Siab bazaar, it seems, has not changed at all in six centuries of existence. Registan Square deserves special attention — “a place covered with sand”. This is the pride of the entire Middle East.
What to see and where to go in Samarkand?
Registan The name of the main square of Samarkand is translated as «a place covered with sand». At one time, all areas of the Middle East were called Registan. Samarkand dates back to the 15th century and is known far beyond the borders of the country. In different periods, the square was a gathering point for troops, as well as a scientific center. It is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Not the last role in such a high assessment was played by a complex of three madrasahs. Ulugbek was created almost simultaneously with the Registan. Sherdor and Tillya-Kari were built in the century. Madrasahs are not only beautiful, but also fulfill important missions: cultural, spiritual, educational.
Ancient settlement AfrasiabIt is located in the north of Samarkand. Loess hills occupy an area of approximately 200 hectares. In the past, the Sogdian capital was located here. Archaeologists began to explore the territory in the 70s of the last century. During the excavations, terracotta figurines, glassware, and samples of tools were found. There is little reliable information about the appearance of the ancient city. By the 13th century, Afrasiab began to decline.
Mausoleum Gur-Emir Ancient tomb of Tamerlane. Hence the name, which translates as «the tomb of the king.» The building is impressive in area, has one high dome. For all its historical and cultural importance, the mausoleum is almost unadorned outwardly. In the design, tiles of soothing colors were used: white, blue, light blue. But the tombstone in the crypt is much more unusual: it was made of dark green jade.
Shahi ZindaComplex of mausoleums in the north of the city. Its name translates as «the living king.» The attraction was formed during the XIV-XV centuries. On the «street of the dead» one tomb for representatives of the royal houses and the nobility was attached to another. There are 11 main mausoleums, however, during the excavations, numerous earlier burials were also found. The latest of these dates back to the 12th century.
Bibi-Khanym Mosque Built at the turn of the XIV-XV centuries in honor of his beloved wife from the harem of Amir Timur. In total, the complex included three mosques: a large main one with a blue dome and two small ones. The best masters of the East were invited for construction and finishing works. The courtyard was paved with marble and surrounded by a covered gallery. The outer walls were covered with ornaments, the inner ones — with carvings, patterns, mosaics. Now there is a reconstruction.
Siab Bazaar About 600 years have passed since its foundation in the Old City. Little has changed in the oriental bazaar. On an area of more than 7 hectares, there are many trade pavilions and rows. It is always noisy and busy here. Bargaining is a mandatory component of any transaction. They sell a lot of goods. Spices, oriental sweets and dried fruits predominate. You can walk here from the Registan in 10 minutes.
Mausoleum of Khoja Doniyor The Old Testament prophet Doniyor, also known as Daniel or Daniyar, is revered in three confessions at once: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. His remains were brought to the city by Tamerlane. A mausoleum was built over the grave, there is a spring nearby, and an almond tree grows. It dried up, and then, for inexplicable reasons, came back to life. In 2001, the tomb with other city objects was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Observatory Ulugbek It is named after its founder, a Turkic astrologer and astronomer. Here, in the 30s of the XIV century, an astronomical catalog was compiled with more than a thousand stars. It received the name Gurgan zij. The medieval historical monument was found in 1908 on Kuhak Hill. A complete study had to wait about 40 years. The observatory has been renovated. One of the valuable finds is a sextant of impressive size.
Museum of the History of Samarkand «Afrasiab» The building was built in 1970 in the northern part of the city. The exposition is divided into 5 halls. The first contains archaeological finds. The second tells about the early history of Samarkand until the 6th century. The third contains evidence of the history of the conquests of Alexander the Great. The fourth is dedicated to the main religion of the city until the 4th century — Zoroastrianism. And the fifth refers to the spiritual life of the locals.
Memorial complex of Imam Al-Bukhari It is located some distance from the city. It is one of the most important Islamic shrines in Central Asia. In the central part of the complex, a mausoleum was built, where the remains of the imam were buried. The tomb, like its dome, is made in soft blue tones. On the left, a khanaka with a mosque was built, and on the right, a spacious museum. In it, Islamic exhibits coexist with gifts from the heads of other countries.