The history of Samarkand is over 2500 years old. He saw different great leaders, survived numerous wars, invasions and earthquakes.
In modern Samarkand has preserved many ancient monuments of the epoch of Tamerlane and his ancestors. The city, which is called the City of famous shadows attracts the attention of tourists and scientists.
Samarkand is located in the South-East of the country, in the valley of the Zeravshan river, surrounded by Pamir-Alay mountains. It is the third largest city in Uzbekistan, and because of the abundance of historical monuments listed as world heritage by UNESCO, it is considered the most interesting tourist site in the country.
Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in the world, it is sometimes called the age of the first Olympic games. The city was founded in the 8th century BC, in the first decades of this century in Ancient Greece started the famous race.
In the ancient history of Samarkand is known as the capital of the ancient state of Sogdiana. Also, this city was an important point of the silk road, through which trade was carried between China and Europe. Over its long history, Samarkand has survived the invasion of Alexander the great and Genghis Khan, attacks of barbarians and Arabs. During the reign of Tamerlane (1370-1499) Samarkand was the capital of his Empire. At this time it was built most of the architectural monuments which still adorn the city.
After the October revolution, the city became part of the Turkestan ASSR, and in the years 1925-1930 was the capital of the Uzbek SSR, later losing this place to Tashkent.
Registan square in the city centre, surrounded by a complex of three madrasahs (Muslim religious schools). The area is considered the “heart” of the ancient Samarkand, literally, the name translates to “sandy place”. In ancient times, it was indeed covered with sand.
Initially any architectural ensemble Registan was not around. In open space power the people gathered for the announcement of the decrees, there was trade, carried out holidays, public executions and levies armies.
The Ulugh beg madrasah, the oldest building in the Registan square. The start date of its construction is not exactly known. But in the alcove of the entrance portal is this inscription: “the Year 820 (1417). Let it be known: this building is foremost and the highest places in the world, the most perfect of the buildings on art and work”. From it, scientists have concluded that in 1417 the madrasah building was already built, that is the beginning of the works is approximately at 1415.
Madrasah was built during the reign of Ulugbek, grandson of Timur. He decided to radically change the appearance of Registan and began with the construction of Central Asia’s largest Islamic University.
After the construction of the Ulugh beg madrasah was one of the most prestigious universities of the Muslim East from the 15th century. Thanks to him, Samarkand received the status of a major scientific center. School lectures on mathematics, geometry, logic, natural Sciences, and theology and teaching has engaged the most famous scientists of the time.
In the first half of the 19th century the madrasah was destroyed by a strong earthquake, and in 1897, after another series of tremors, the building was in ruins. With the 20-ies of the last century, the monument is gradually restored and rebuilt. Now from the original elements of the building do not exist outside the dome above the corner of the classrooms and the South-West minaret. And the North-West minaret has survived only partially.
Ancient low door.
The architectural ensemble of Registan square is one of the most popular places among tourists.
Madrasah Sher-Dor, erected 200 years after the Ulugbek madrasah. It was assumed that this building will be a mirror image of its predecessor, but for 200 years, the ground sank, and a new madrasah turned slightly higher, but visually the difference is almost not visible.
The Sher-Dor ordered the construction of the Hakim (ruler) of Samarkand Yalangtush Bahadur, he dedicated the building of his spiritual mentor of Khoja Hashimu Agbedi.
Yalangtush wanted to medrese named after him, but this option did not stick. In the end, the monument has received the name due to the mosaic in the form of two Golden tigers. Animals with the sun back chasing the white DOE, their image is located above the entrance to the madrasah. The word “cher” means the tiger (and lion) and the full title translates as “decorated with tigers”. This artistic story later became a national symbol of Uzbekistan.
Mosaic above the main entrance to the Sher-Dor.
Sher-Dor was built of brick, decorated with bright ornaments, and the towers and walls completely painted with various quotations from the Koran in Arabic. Some original finishes have been lost, however, architects and historians are trying to bring the modern view of Sher-Dor to the original.
The Yard Of The Madrassah.
Mainly in the decoration of the external facade is dominated by complex geometric patterns – girai, which are calculated on perception from afar.
Madrasah Tilla-Kari is located in the Northern part of the square. The construction of the building, whose name translates as “covered with gold” started in 1646 and lasted for 14 years.
Madrasah Tilla-Kari is the youngest of the three theological schools surrounding the area. The architects have made the exterior facade is not as massive as the other structures, because of this madrasa serves as a backdrop for the entire ensemble.
The mosque of the madrasah is decorated lavishly, the walls and dome are completely covered with painting in the technique kundal (small floral prints) with a huge amount of gold.
Mihrab – a niche in the wall of the mosque. It is needed in order to pray to an Imam who must stand in front of the other parishioners.
The mihrab indicates the direction of Mecca.
Side madrasah Tilla-Kari.
The beginning of the last century, most of the lining of the madrasa was destroyed. The restoration of the original decor and the preservation of the surviving particles was up until the late 70-ies.
On one of the minarets of Ulugbek madrasah you can climb to look at the area from height and to take pictures.
Several times a month on the Registan square are conducting a laser show.
The show, staged by specialists from Germany, talks about the history of Uzbekistan from ancient times to our time.
In 2001, among other sights of Samarkand madrasah, all three made the list of UNESCO world heritage.
The memorial complex Shah-I-Zinda is an ensemble of eleven mausoleums of the nobility. They were gradually attached to each other during the 14th and 15th centuries.
The name “Shohi Zinda” (the living king) complex was due to the legend. It says that a cousin of the prophet Muhammad, Kusam Ibn Abbas came to Samarkand with his army to Islam. During a RAID of the Gentiles Kusam was shot by an arrow, but managed to hide in the crevice formed (according to another version – in the well) and survived.
In addition to the family of Timur, here are buried many saints, philosophers, thinkers and scientists. In ancient times, this complex was one of the most important religious and cultural centers of Asia. Among the Muslims even allowed the replacement of the pilgrimage to Mecca to visit the Shahi Zinda. It is connected with the legend about Kusam Ibn Abbas.
During excavations at the site found the older structure of the 11th-12th century, so the history of this place began long before the 14th century. Shahi Zinda – the only one in Samarkand, archeological and architectural monument, where, in one form or another, reflects the almost 25-century history of the city.
Two domed mausoleum is one of the most significant buildings of the complex, which belongs to the lower group of buildings. He used the name of the mathematician and astronomer Kazi-zade ar-Rumi, a teacher of Ulugbek. But during the excavations of 1977 archaeologists discovered his remains. Now it is believed to be the burial place of the nurse of Amir Timur.
The mausoleum of Shirin Bika-aka, here lies the sister of Timur.
This mausoleum is decorated with exquisite inlaid tile mosaics. With color work, the artists have created three-dimensional image: blue and blue tones create a deep background and red, yellow, orange and white colors – the foreground. Another wall is decorated with the inscription, the authorship of which is attributed to Socrates: “Indeed people of this world are like birds rejoicing”.
The dome of the mausoleum of Shadi-Mulk-aka, the built in 1372 for the niece of Amir Timur. This is the first building of the reign of Tamerlane, not only in the complex but around Samarkand.
The middle group of mausoleums are built in the time of Tamerlane, where his relatives are buried, a prominent military and religious leaders. Here also were found remains of the buildings of the 11th century.
In the ancient Arab burial is not decorated with colourful tiles and murals, so the room for the pilgrims who came to the tomb of Kusam Ibn Abbas, had to decorate at a later time.
On site women must wear long clothes and cover the head with a burqa or scarf.
Traditional pattern on a brick wall.
Summer in Samarkand is often 40-degree heat, and in winter the thermometer ranges between -5 and +6 degrees. Although sometimes there are frosts up to -20 degrees.
Cathedral mosque Bibi-Khanum, in 1399 it was to be built by order of Tamerlane, who returned from a victorious campaign in India.
It is believed that the mosque was named in honor of his beloved wife of Tamerlane.
Bibi Khanum was the largest mosque in all Central Asia. Its size is comparable to the Duomo Cathedral. A few years after construction the building began to collapse under its own weight, and after the earthquake of 1897, the year – in ruins, and many buildings of Samarkand.
To restore the mosque from the ruins was only at the end of the last century.
Partly to recreate the original mosaic and painting on ancient buildings and monuments to rebuild after the earthquakes failed due to the pictures of photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky. In 1907 he, together with the Russian geographical society, went to Central Asia, to photograph a solar Eclipse in the mountains of Tien Shan. Because of the great clouds to photograph the Eclipse failed, but Prokudin-Gorsky, who at the time was very fond of color photography, did a great story on the Samarkand, and gave very realistic colors of the local architecture. In his lens and got ruined Bibi-Khanym mosque, which six months later destroyed another earthquake.
The dome of the mosque of Bibi Khanum.
The mausoleum of Bibi Khanum, it is located opposite of the mosque. The ritual building was built for the mother and wife of Timur as well as other women from the Timurid.
Siab Bazaar is located near the mosque of Bibi Khanum. The entrance to this huge shopping area is made in the form of a triple arch with a mosaic in shades of blue. Shopping arcades are protected by canopies. In the summer they protect from the burning sun, and in winter from wind and rain. Mainly they sell fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, spices and the famous Uzbek flatbread. Many locals just come to the market to socialize and discuss the latest news.
The family necropolis of the Timurids or the mausoleum of Gur-Emir.
In Gur-Emir mausoleum, are the tombs of Timur, his sons Shah Rukh and Miran-Shah and grandsons Ulugh beg Muhammad Sultan, as well as many other family members.
The name of the mausoleum is translated into Russian as “grave of Emir”.
During his reign, Ulugh beg was installed on the grave of Tamerlane’s tombstone is made of dark green jade which is carved the warning: “anyone who breaks my peace in this life or the next, will be subjected to suffering and die.”
Ulugbek was a very educated ruler who is very successful in many exact and natural Sciences. His main work – “New astronomical tables”, describes a theory of astronomy and the coordinates of more than 1000 stars. The table is known in Europe, India and China, in 1665 they published in Oxford. To observe the heavenly bodies Ulugh beg had built an Observatory building.
The Observatory has not preserved its original appearance. Historically it had the shape of a cylinder, with height 30 meters and a diameter of 46 meters. Inside was located a huge sextant, which had been measured a starry sky.
Mausoleum of Khoja Daniyar (St. Daniel). According to legend it was here that the buried ashes of an old Testament prophet, which is revered to three world religions: Christian, Jewish and Muslim.
The tomb of the prophet in the mausoleum of Khodja-Daniyar.
The remains of Daniel were brought to Samarkand, Amir Timur. According to legend, the horse that was carrying the ashes of the prophet stopped on that place where is now the tomb. He decided to bury Saint there. Another legend says that the blow horse hooves scored healing spring. After the construction of the mausoleum, the wonders did not end there: grave of the prophet began to grow, and now reaches 18 meters.
Residential buildings of Samarkand are quite simple, mostly one-story brick house.
In 1213, during his trip to China, in Samarkand visited the great traveler Marco Polo.
Most of the inhabitants of Samarkand are Muslim, but in the city there are four Orthodox churches, a Catholic Cathedral, two synagogues and a Buddhist temple.