Samarkand

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Samarkand  is the third  largest and second most populous city in Uzbekistan.

Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in the world, founded, according to archaeological data, in the VIII century BC. BC the center of the historical region and the state of Sogdiana. For more than 2000 years, the city was a key point on the Great Silk Road between China and Europe, as well as one of the main centers of science in the medieval East.

In the XIV century it was the capital of the Tamerlane Empire and the Timurid dynasty. The vast majority of the city’s architectural masterpieces were built during this era. This was the period of the highest development of Samarkand. In 1925-1930 Samarkand was the capital of the Uzbek SSR.
Samarkand is perhaps the most interesting city in Uzbekistan (and throughout Central Asia) in terms of tourism. In 2001, the city and its historical architectural and archaeological monuments were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the name “Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures”.

Access : Coordinates: 39.7, 66.983333 / Tourists usually visit the city by land, arriving by train or car from Bukhara (from the west) or Tashkent (from the northeast), or from neighboring Tajikistan (from the east). The Samarkand-Penjikent international border crossing (officially Jartepa-Sarazm) is located 35 kilometers east of Samarkand.

Highlights :

  • Samarkand is one of the most ancient cities in Central Asia, it is more than 2750 years old. For more than two thousand years, the city was a key point on the Great Silk Road between China and Europe, as well as one of the main centers of science and architecture of the medieval East.
  • Kuk-Saray Square : The main palace of Amir Temur, and then Ulugbek was Kuk-Saray (“Blue Palace”) on the top of the hill. In the 17th century, Samarkand beks rebuilt the palace into a citadel, which more or less survived until the annexation of Turkestan to Russia. The citadel became the center of the new Russian quarter, from which three main radial streets diverged. The remains of the citadel were cleared out already in the 21st century, in its place were built administrative buildings and a park.
  • Chorsu : Built in the 17th century on the site of an older covered bazaar, a domed building, which housed shops and shops selling clothes, hats, books, medicines and other things until the early 20th century. A large bazaar was located around this building. Currently, the Chorsu building has been turned into a gallery, where exhibitions of famous artists, painters and sculptors are constantly held.
  • Building of the Russian-Chinese Bank : An eclectic columned mansion that might have reminded the planters’ homes of the southern states of the US./ Women’s Gymnasium.
  • Library im. Biruni (1911), Mahmud Qoshgary koc. The Gothic Revival in Central Asia / Temple of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos : One of the largest and brightest Orthodox churches in Samarkand. / Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist : The only Catholic church in Samarkand, as well as one of the largest Catholic churches in Uzbekistan, built in 1916 by Austrian, Polish and Hungarian prisoners of war in a striking neo-Gothic style.
  • Armenian Church of Surb Astvatsatsin :The only Armenian church in Samarkand, built in 1903. In 1939 it was closed and reopened only in 1995.
  • Cathedral of St. Alexy of Moscow :The largest Orthodox cathedral in Samarkand, built in 1911 in a bright neo-Russian (pseudo-Russian) colonial style, by architects Fyodor Verzhbitsky and Fyodor Smirnov. It looks like a typical garrison temple, analogues of which can be found in many military cities of the former Russian Empire. In Soviet times, of course, it was closed, re-consecrated in 1996 by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II.
  • University Boulevard : It is located in the center of the city, stretching for 1.1 km (area 140 thousand square meters). It is a border or buffer between the old (historical) Samarkand and the so-called “Russian Samarkand”.
  • Confucius Square : New square (area 5.5 thousand square meters), opened in 2019. In the park, a person feels like in China, since all the elements and plants of the park resemble China, Chinese nature and culture.
  • Central Recreation Park named after Alisher Navoi (Intersection of Amir Temur and Abdurakhman Jami streets). A giant ,over 70 thousand m² park.
  • Park named after Rudaki (Intersection of Shokhrukh Mirzo and Uzbekistan streets, as well as Mustakillik street). A large ,about 30 thousand square meters shady park that dates back to the 1890s.
  • Park named after Amir Temur (Between Rukhabad, Registan and Kulolon streets). A large park ,30 thousand square meters with coniferous trees in the historical center of Samarkand, between Rukhabad, Registan and Kulolon streets.
  • Rukhabad Park (Between Rukhabad, Registan and Bustansaray streets / Park named after Islam Karimov (Intersection of Registan and Islam Karimov streets). A large ,about 40 thousand square meters park, mainly with coniferous plantations / Amusement Park “Yoshlik”, Beruni Street. Quite a large amusement park. The entrance is free. About 80 new attractions are in operation. The price for rides starts from 1000 sum. One of the notable attractions is the giant Ferris wheel.
  • Water park “Babylon”, Ali Kushchi Street, Sogdiana massif. An ultra-modern large (4.5 hectares) water park opened in August 2018 / Afsona water park, Mirzo Ulugbek Street, opposite the Dynamo stadium.
  • Samarkand rowing canal :Samarkand rowing canal is a unique sports facility. There are only two exact analogs of this unique channel all over the world. These are: the Krylatskoe rowing canal in Moscow, and the Oberschleissheim rowing canal in Munich. The dimensions of the channel are 2.215 × 0.188 km. You can swim and ride boats and boats.
  • Samarkand Regional Theater of Music and Drama named after Khamid Alimdzhan, Registan Street. / Samarkand Russian Theater named after Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Buyuk Ipak Yuli Street.
  • Rukhabad Mosque : The current building of the mosque was built in 1903 (reconstructed in the 1990s), on the site of a mosque built in the early 1880s, which in turn was built on the site of an older mosque. The long ceiling of the ayvan of the mosque, which is qualitatively decorated with ancient multi-colored patterns, deserves special attention.
  • Mausoleum of Rukhabad : An ancient mausoleum built in 1380 by order of Amir Temur over the grave of Burkhaniddin Sagardzhi. One of the few surviving architectural monuments of Samarkand, built personally by Amir Temur. The tomb of Burkhaneddin Sagaraja, theologian and spiritual teacher of Timur, was built in 1380 and is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
  • Dakhbedi Complex : A tiny Muslim complex on Bibi-Khanym Street, which runs a few meters west of the pedestrian Islam Karimov Street. It is a building with an aivan, next to which a small minaret and a stone-mazar with Arab-Persian calligraphy, as well as a hauz (water reservoir) rise up. It is located inside the mahalla, and is surrounded by private residential buildings.
  • Makhdumi Khorezmi Complex : It is located a few dozen meters east of Registan Square, at the beginning of Bukharskaya Street, on the way to the Maturidi mausoleum. A small complex with an ancient cemetery where a number of saints are buried, including Imam Mahdumi Khorezmi.
  • Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Toshkent koc. The grandiose cathedral mosque of Tamerlane, the largest in Central Asia and one of the largest in the world. According to popular legend, the construction of this mosque was organized by Timur’s elder wife during his absence – in fact, the mosque was founded by Timur after the victorious campaign to Delhi. In the design and decoration of the mosque, all the best that was achieved by the masters by the beginning of the 15th century was used: in fact, Bibi-Khanym became the culmination of the development of traditional mosques of the Middle Ages.
  • Bibi-Khanym Mausoleum, Toshkent koc. The tomb for women from the Timurid dynasty stands opposite the mosque, across the road. It is not the decor and not the scale of the building that is interesting here, but its octahedral shape.
  • Mausoleum of Maturidi : It is located on the border between the Jewish quarter and the Muslim Samarkand quarter, at the end of Bukharskaya Street, on the right side, a few meters south of secondary school # 26. Buried in the mausoleum is a famous Islamic theologian, thinker, expert on the Koran and Sharia – Abu Mansur Maturidi, who is also the founder of Maturidism – the Sunni school. It is the main place of pilgrimage for adherents of Maturidism from all over the world.
  • Madrasah Rukhabad : It is located in the immediate vicinity of the Rukhabad mosque, adjoining it. Built in the middle of the 19th century. It was one of the famous madrasahs of the city, where a number of famous personalities studied in Samarkand. Madrasah is a U-shaped brick building, the inner part of which is occupied by a courtyard with vegetation.
  • The historic house of Khoja Muin : It is located in the immediate vicinity of the Rukhabad mosque, actually adjoining it. The historical house where the famous Tajik and Uzbek educator, publisher, journalist, teacher, poet, writer, literary critic and Jadidist was born and lived – Khoji Muin Shukrullaev, who was repressed during the Stalinist repressions.
  • Mausoleum of Aksaray : It is located 30 meters southeast of Gur-Emir, inside the mahalla. Mausoleum circa 15th century, where a number of members of the Timurid dynasty are buried. The inside of the mausoleum and the inside of the dome are decorated with gold and are striking in their beauty, although the outer walls of the mausoleum itself have a monochromatic made of bricks appearance.
  • Gur-Emir-Mausoleum : A large mausoleum of 1404, where Amir Temur (Tamerlane), his main mentor, a number of his sons and grandchildren are buried. In the center of the mausoleum there is a dark green jade stone, which is the tombstone of Amir Temur. The real graves are in the basement of the mausoleum. The building of the mausoleum is striking in its grandeur, although it has not survived to this day in full. Inside the mausoleum is striking in its beauty.

  • Mausoleum of Khoja Daniyar : The elongated building of the mausoleum is undergoing active restoration, but the interest here is not the architecture, but the contents: inside there is an 18-meter sarcophagus covered with black velvet. According to one version, the relics of the Old Testament prophet Daniel, brought by Timur, rest here on the other – Khoja Daniyar, an associate of Kusam ibn Abbas.
  • Alley of tombs of Shakhi-Zinda, Shohizinda koc. One of the most striking monuments of the city: a complex of more than 20 mosques and mausoleums of the XI-XV centuries, built along a narrow street. The main mausoleum, around which the entire necropolis grew up, is the cenotaph chapel of Kusam Ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, who brought Islam to Central Asia.
  • Hazrat-Khizr Mosque : The mosque, built in 1854 and restored in the 1990s, is one of the prettiest examples of vernacular architecture. The name is associated with the name of the prophet Khizr – the patron saint of travelers.
  • Mausoleum of Makhsum-bobo : A small Muslim mausoleum a few meters east of the Khazret-Khyzr mosque, at the main gate in the Afrasiab settlement. Buried in the mausoleum is an 18th century Islamic awliya (saint) who lived for 97 years. The building of the mausoleum was built in the 18th or 19th century.
  • Khoja-Akhrar Vali Ensemble : It is located 5 km south-west of the Registan Square. A large Muslim ensemble, which includes a number of buildings for memorial, cult and spiritual and educational purposes, which were built in the 15-16 centuries. The madrasah of the Khoja-Akhrar ensemble is a must visit, as it has a very interesting and colorful architecture, on the main portal of which tigers hunting gazelles are depicted (by analogy with the Sherdor madrasah). The mosque in the ensemble is a unique building with an aivan, next to which there is a large hauz (reservoir) and a small minaret.
  • Ulugbek Observatory : Located 3.5 km from the Siab Bazaar and about 5 km from the city center. The museum tells what happened here (in Uzbek and English). From the observatory itself there was a hill, inside which there is a 30-meter arc of a sectarian built in 1420, which was used to measure the height of celestial bodies above the horizon. Using this device, Ulugbek and his associates made a detailed map of the starry sky.
  • Memorial complex of Islam Karimov : Located right behind the Khazret-Khyzr mosque. In the center of the complex there is a mausoleum in a typical Islamic style, where the first President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Abduganievich Karimov, who died in September 2016, is buried. The complex also has a long aivan with benches, as well as a large observation deck.
  • Namazgah Mosque : a large 17th century mosque built by Nadir Divanbegi. The mosque is part of a fairly large new Muslim complex. It is located 2.5 km south of Registan Square.
  • Mausoleum of Murad Avliya : Located behind the State Museum of History and Culture of Uzbekistan. Another rare Shiite shrine in Samarkand. Also revered by the Sunnis. It is a quadrangular building with a large dome, inside which the famous theologian Khoja Said Musa ibn Said Murtaza is buried. The brick walls of the mausoleum are decorated with Arabic script and have large windows with lattice patterns.
  • Ensemble of Khoja Abdu-Darun : A large Muslim complex that arose in the 12th century over the grave of the famous theologian Abdul Mazeddin, who lived in the 9th century. The central core of the ensemble is the 12th century mausoleum. The mosque, madrasah and khanaka were built in the following centuries. On the territory of the ensemble there is a large khauz (reservoir), and at the entrance there is a high minaret.
  • Ishratkhan Mausoleum : It is located 3 kilometers south of Registan Square. An architectural monument, built in 1464, during the reign of Amir Temur’s great-grandson, Abu Seid, who was the last ruler of the unified Timurid state. It is the burial place of a number of representatives of the Timurid dynasty. It has survived to this day in a state of disrepair (it was badly damaged during the earthquake of 1903), but a small part of the building has been fairly well and beautifully restored (especially the interior decoration.
  • Punjab Mosque and Madrasah : One of the few Shiite mosques and madrasahs in Uzbekistan. The madrasah and the mosque are located in close proximity to each other, on the territory of the historical Punjab region (western part of Samarkand), where a large diaspora of Central Asian Iranians lives predominantly. The madrasah was built in 1889 and is a prime example of Persian Islamic architecture. The building of the mosque was also built at the end of the century before last (reconstructed in the 1990s), and it clearly shows Shiite influence (for example, inscriptions directly on the dome), which are absent in other mosques and Muslim buildings in Samarkand.
  • Ancient settlement Afrasiab : An ancient large – 200 hectares ancient settlement, where Samarkand was originally located before the Arab invasion and Islamization of the city.
  • Museum of Samarkand History “Afrasiab” / Mirzo Ulugbek Memorial Museum / State Museum of History and Culture of Uzbekistan / Samarkand Regional Museum of Local Lore / Winemaking Museum at the winery / International Museum of Peace and Solidarity.

Go next : Hazrat Daoud (St. David) Cave ,40 km south-west of the city. / Akbuira (Kishlak Akbuira) ,20 km south of the city center. A popular place for out-of-town, mountain recreation and picnics among Samarkand residents and tourists.

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