Breakfast at the Asia Hotel, Samarkand.
I didn’t enjoy the breakfast. Quite a lousy and disappointing spread for a US$60/night hotel! Definitely not worth the price for the room and breakfast!
Decided to move to a cheaper hotel. Packed my bags and walked to the Hotel Caravan Serail which I had originally planned for but couldn’t locate (when I arrived). Since I have way too much SOM and not spending much, decided to pay for the hotel in SOM instead of USD. A room costs US$22 inclusive of a city tax of some sort.
The room wasn’t ready when I checked in. Left my bag at the reception and headed out for a walk. I didn’t have a plan and just sort of took a walk aimlessly. Kinda glad that it stopped snowing!
Walking around randomly! Sights of Samarkand.
Somehow I made my way to the Rukhobod Mausoleum and Gur Emir Mausoleum.
The Rukhobod Mausoleum. I didn’t have to pay to enter.
The Rukhabad Mausoleum, built by order of Amir Timur in 1380, was erected over the grave of Islamic theologian and mystic Sheikh Burhaneddin Sagaradzhi, much esteemed by Timur’s contemporaries.
These are simple tombstones of Sagaradzhi, his wife-Princess and 9 children.
The mausoleum has three entrances from north, west and south. The interior decoration of the mausoleum is also very modest. Its only decoration is a two-meter ceramic plate in the wall foundation with inserts of glazed bricks laid in a form of a narrow band. There are simple tombstones of Sagaradzhi, his wife-Princess and 9 children.
The arched octahedron with windows along the principal axes is supported by a cubic basis, and crowned by a spheroconical dome structure. According to a legend, the dome has an immured box with seven Prophet Muhammad’s beard hairs, which belonged to saint Sheikh.
The Rukhobod Mausoleum, dated 1380, is possibly the city’s oldest surviving monument. It now serves as a souvenir and craft shop.
The Rukhobod Mausoleum from afar.
The Gur Emir Mausoleum. I wasn’t sure if it’s worth paying to enter the Gur Emir Mausoleum. Since I have another day in Samarkand, decided to do some research first before deciding.
The Gur Emir was built in the southwestern part of Samarkand at the beginning of the XV century. It is one of the most significant architectural ensembles of medieval East. This majestic complex consisted of a khanaka, the madrasah of Muhammad Sultan – grandson of Amir Timur, and, later, tombs of Amir Timur himself and his descendants.
Started walking to the Registan Square as I’m meeting Shoira.
Statue of Amir Temur at a roundabout near the Registon ko chasi.
Registon ko chasi. Soviet looking buildings.
Managed to take another panorama shot of the Registan Ensemble! Clear blue sky!
Enjoying the view of the Registan, while waiting for Shoira! Inspired by the image from the wikitravel page for Samarkand!
Finally managed to meet up with Shoira! We spent the afternoon together. She brought me to the new town and also into some of the monuments.
Our first stop, the Siyob Bazaar as I needed to get more SOM. It is the biggest bazaar in Samarkand!The bazaar is huge! It consists of 3 stories, outdoor and indoor!
We headed to the Shah-i-Zinda Ensemble.
Shah-I-Zinda is one of the oldest and longest-running examples of a continually constructed historic site in the world. The Shah-i-Zinda complex was formed over nine (from 11th till 19th) centuries and now includes more than twenty buildings.
The name Shah-i-Zinda is connected with the legend that Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of the prophet of Muhammed was buried there. He came to Samarkand with the Arabian invasion in the 7th century. Popular legends speak that he was beheaded for his faith, but he took his head and went into a deep well (Garden of Paradise) where he is still living now.
Spectacular blue and turquoise tiles make up the magnificent Shah-i-Zinda.
Shoira then took me on a public bus, to the new city.
Inside a shopping mall. I wasn’t keen in shopping and thus we left after I have seen the interior of the first level.
Shoira said this is where the university students hang out!
Shoira wanted to bring me to try one of the national food of Uzbekistan but the stall was closed. So she brought me to her favourite cafe instead. The cake is absolutely yummy! The hot chocolate doesn’t taste good though. But it’s good for someone who hasn’t had much to eat and drink since the start of the trip!
As we walked back to the Registan Square, Shoira brought me to the university she’s studying in.
Artwork of the Silk Road on the interior walls (of the building).
Couldn’t resist another (photo) shot of the Registan Ensemble! The snow is melting!
Finally entered the Registan Ensemble with Shoira as my guide🙂
The ensemble consists of three Madrassah: Ulugbek Madrassah (15th century), Sher – Dor Madrassah (17th century) and Tilla-Kari Madrassah (gold covered, 17th century).
Ulugh Beg Madrasah (1417–1420)
The Ulugbek Madrassah was built by the Ulugbek’s order and guidance. It lasted only three years from 1417 to 1420. When the medresse was constructed, Ulugbek gave lectures on mathematics and astronomy till his death.
Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619–1636)
Two years later, the ruler of Samarkand Yalangtush Bahadur ordered to build the copy of the Madrassah, and the second Sher-Dor Madrassah was built opposite it. The only difference was that it had two more winter teaching halls, but the main structure was the same as in Ulugbek Madrassah.
The tiger mosaics on the face of each madrassah are interesting, in that they flout the ban in Islam of the depiction of living beings on religious buildings.
Tilya-Kori Madrasah (1646–1660)
Ten years later the Tilya-Kori Madrassah was built. It was not only a residential college for students, but also played the role of grand masjid (mosque). It’s outward is the same as those two other madrassas, but coming in you’ll see a one story building. To make the architectural ensemble, the architecture made two floors on the outside but only one inside.
It has a two-storied main facade and a vast courtyard fringed by dormitory cells, with four galleries along the axes.
The mosque building (see picture) is situated in the western section of the courtyard. The main hall of the mosque is abundantly gilded.
The main entrance was always locked with lattice and two other entrances were used by purpose. The doors in cell were always low because “Islam” means “obedience”, that is why everyone who entered or went out of cell always had to bow, it was like greeting and wishing health to everyone. Only Tilla-Kari Madrassah was built like medresse, but was used mostly as mosque; just looking at minarets can see this, Tilla-Kari has low minarets to call people to pray.
Assorted photos from the Registan Ensemble.
The ancient trading dome Chorsu (right behind the Sher-Dor).
I took these photos yesterday, not knowing what (architecture) it is.
Payment for the entrance fee to the Registan Ensemble can be made in SOM or USD. The rates are better for paying in SOM. There is a money exchange who’s there in the afternoons. Else, it is better to change currencies at the Siyob Bazaar which is of walking distance. There are freelance tour guides. I forgot the rates they charge. It’s better to enter the Registan Ensemble with a guide. Else it’s just ‘boring’ architecture.
We decided to call it a day and I walked back to the guest house. Internet was still down. I went to Asia Hotel to tap onto the internet. It’s working on and off at Asia Hotel. It got dark pretty soon and there’s no street lamps. Pretty scary experience walking down the street with no street lamps!
As I have skipped dinner and internet wasn’t working, I went to the reception/lobby hoping to get something to eat. The staff on duty was studying for his exams. Knowing I was hungry, he offered me food from the kitchen. Had a pretty nice chat over some bread and tea before retiring for the night.