Friday, August 8, 2014

Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Thursday was spent travelling between Bukhara and Samarkand-

Samarkand was probably founded in the 5th century BC.  Many groups ruled here until 1220 when Chinggis Khan attacked.  A few years later, in 1370, Timur made the city his capital but over time, and thanks to earthquakes, it was abandonned until the late 1800s when Russia linked it to their Empire with the Trans-Caspian railway.

One of the best sites is the Registan where there are 3 magnificent buildings-the Ulugbek, Sher Dor and Tilla Kari.  It was Samarkand's medieval commercial center and bazaar-

The Ulugbek Medressa was built from 1417-1420.  There's a small astronomy museum inside because Ulug Bek was not only an astronomer and the grandson of Timur but he also ruled Samarkand and the empire for awhile-

Inside the courtyard-

The Sher Dor Medressa was finished in 1636.  There are lions on the front but they were meant to be tigers. This also flouts the Islamic prohibition of using animals in decoration-

The courtyard -  You can see the building hasn't been completely restored-

The Tilla Kari (Gold Covered) was completed in 1660-

The mosque is really cool because the ceiling is flat, but looks domed.  It's decorated in gold to symbolize Samarkand's wealth-

The altar area-

I really love the tile work-

This is the Bibi Khanym Mosque.  Legend has it that Bibi Khanym, Timur's wife, had this mosque built for him while he was away.  The architect wouldn't finish the job until she let him kiss her.  When he did, it left a mark on her cheek.  Timur had the architect executed and decreed that women should wear veils so as not to tempt men.  It was rebuilt in the 1970s-

Shah i Zinda is an avenue of mausoleums.  It contains some of the richest tile work in the Muslim world.  They say that the cousin of the Prophet Mohammed is buried here.  He is responsible for bringing Islam to this area in the 7th century.  Here's the entrance-

It is a site of pilgrimmage for many-

Inside, it's one mausoleum after another-

Some of the tile work-

This is an example of some tombs inside-

This is an unknown tomb, built in the second half of the XIV century.  The majolica tiles are partially preserved-

This says "The doors to paradise are open to the faithful"-

The end of the avenue opens up to Samarkand's main cemetery-

Here is a typical tombstone-

The Gur Amir Mausoleum contains the tombs of Timur, his 2 sons and 2 grandsons-

Notice the embedded image of the mosque above the front entrance-

There's a lot of detail in this tile work-

Here is some modern tile work that is sidewalk-

The market was a very busy place.


Salad fixings-

This man is ready for supper-

And speaking of supper, this was on the menu-

It's bon fillet, potatoes and vegetable oil for 60,000 Som ($20.00).  Most items on the menu were between 5000-20,000 som.  No, I didn't try it!


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