Samarkand - the Capital of Tamerlane
One of the oldest cities of Uzbekistan
and the world is Samarkand, established during the middle of the first century BC under the name Marakanda and later known as Afrosiab. It was the capital of the powerful state of the Sogdians, and later the center of Amir Temur's great empire. The numerous monuments of Samarkand and its suburbs impress everyone with their beauty and splendor. The refined architectural shapes, intricate ornamentation, mosaics, blue-tile domes and facades are captivating all who see them.
The majestic Registan square consists of three madrassas, the Ulugbek, Sher-Dor and Tilla-Kari Madrassas. Other places of interest are the most remarkable monument the Shahi-Zinda necropolis, and the Guri-Emir mausoleum (the grave of Timur, his sons and grandsons). Throughout ancient history Samarkand is connected with the names of outstanding writers, great scientists and famous artists from the East.
Samarkand, one of the ancient cities in the world, contemporary of Rome, Athens and Babylon, recently celebrated it's 2500 year anniversary. It has been called "The Radiant Point of Globe", "The Jewel of Islam", and "The Mirror of the World", among others, since earliest times.
The boundless gardens seen at the entry to the city, were created by Amir Timur in the 14th century when he ordered a green belt to be built around his capital. The architecturally organized gardens with plantations of fruit and decorative trees, flower gardens, irrigation system and pools were magnificent and splendid. "A traveler who approaches the city sees only a mountainous height of trees and the houses embowered among them remain invisible" wrote Spanish envoy Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo who visited Samarkand in 1404. "Bogi Zagon", "Bogi Shamol", "Bogi Maidon", "Bogi Baland", "Bogi Dilkush": - all names of gardens are kept until today. And at present time Samarkand is one of the greenest cites of Uzbekistan
Amir Timur made his great contributions in the formation of a state system, as well as the progress of science and culture.
Start your tour by visiting Gur Emir building, the mausoleum of Amir Temur. From a distance Gur Emir looks like a blue tulip, folded tightly in its turquoise petals. Here rest the remains of a great sovereign, his two sons and two grandsons, one of whom, Mirzo Ulugbek, was a prominent scientist, thinker, and was renowned throughout the ancient world.
Next in turn is the legendary Registan square which is considered the main architectural sight in all of Central Asia. Since ancient times this square was the trade and public center of Samarkand. The dominating mass of the three madrassahs of Ulug Bek, Shir Dor, Tillya Kari leave one spellbound at first sight. Ulugbek, like his grandfather paid great attention to monumental building, and during his rule the ensemble of magnificent buildings was completed.
While admiring the elegance of the precious mosaics of Ulugbek madrassah, the ribbed turquoise cupolas and majestic minarets of Shir Dor and the golden paintings of the patterned walls of Tillya Kari, do not keep your emotions in. The echo responds to your exalted exclamations as if a voice from old time: "I am Registan, the heart of Samarkand..."
Another outstanding monument of ancient architecture is a the lofty Bibi Khanum Mosque. There is a parking place near the mosque and you might see a donkey cart next to a fashionable car, on which farmers from nearby villages bring sweet melons and watermelons for the exotic daily Samarkand Bazaar.
Nowadays, a special program offered to guests of the ancient city is a chance to get aquainted with local folk who make old crafts and applied arts. The wares of Samarkand's masters were famous all over the world since olden times. Along the branches of the Great Silk Road
were found unsurpassed beautiful fabrics, crimson velvets, brocade, silk, carpets, metal work, leather, jewelry, famous Samarkand paper and other goods. These were delivered to various countries of the ancient world. Marvelous wares of Samarkand's masters can be found here today. If you walk along the street with handicraft shops and trade rows you can watch skilled craftsmen creating their wonderful works before your eyes.
To explore even more extreme antiquity go to the ancient site of Afrosiab. The guides will tell you about a city that originated 500 years BC. There was an underground palace adorned by precious Sogdian frescos...
Historical and architectural monuments of Samarkand:
- Ancient settlement of Afrosiab, Samarkand (8th century BC)
- Observatory of Ulugbek, Samarkand (1428-1429)
- Architectural Ensemble of Shahi Zinda, Samarkand
- Mosque of Bibi Khonim, Samarkand (1399-1404)
- Mausoleum of Gur Emir, Samarkand (1404)
- Registan Square, Samarkand
Madrasah of Ulugbek (1417-1420)
Madrasah of Sher Dor (1619-1635/36)
Madrasah of Tilla Kori (1647-1659/60)
- Mosque of Hazrat Hizr, Samarkand (mid 19th century)
- Chorsu Bazar, Samarkand (late 18th century)
- Mausoleum of Ruhabad, Samarkand
- Mausoleum of Ak-Saray, Samarkand (1470)
- Mosque of Namozgoh, Samarkand (17th century)
- Mosque of Ishrat Hona, Samarkand (1464)
- Ensemble Hoja Ahror, Samarkand (15th - 20th centuries)
- Mausoleum of Chupon Ata, Samarkand (1430-440)
- Cemetery of Hoja Darun, Samarkand (15th -19th centuries)