Samarkand (Uzbekistan)

According to Local Business Explorer, Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in the world, its history is about 2500 years old. It is located 275 km southwest of Tashkent on the slopes of the Turkestan Range at an altitude of 700 m. The city was first mentioned in 700 BC as Marakanda. It was the capital of the state of Sogdiana. Since the opening of the Great Silk Road, Marakanda has been its key point. At different periods of its history, the city was under the control of the Persians, Seleucids, Chinese, Arabs and Eastern Turks. In 1220 it was plundered and almost completely destroyed by the Mongols. The city acquired its modern name under Genghis Khan. The heyday of Samarkand fell on the reign of Emir Timur (14-15 centuries), when Samarkand became the capital of his empire. Samarkand It was surrounded by fortress walls, inside which grandiose architectural ensembles were erected and numerous parks were equipped.

In 2001, for its unique appearance, Samarkand was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city is famous for its architectural monuments dating back to the reign of the Timurid dynasty. Local residents honor Emir Timur and his grandson, the astronomer Ulugbek, under whom Samarkand gained power. Here you can see the monuments of these rulers. Samarkand architecture of the Middle Ages is known all over the world: the unique external glazed and gilded cladding of ancient buildings are the hallmark of the city.

All roads of the Old City of Samarkand lead to Registan Square. Its ensemble was formed in the 15th-17th centuries and included mosques, minarets and mausoleums. However, Registan, as the center of the public life of the city, began to take shape long before the Mongol invasion. It was the center of crafts and trade. Today, the Registan is adorned with such ancient buildings as the Ulugbek madrasah (early 15th century), where Ulukbek himself lectured on mathematics and astronomy, the Sher-Dor madrasah (early 17th century), which is a copy of Ulugbek’s madrasah, and the Tilya-Kari madrasah (mid-17th century). Ulugbek Madrasah stands in the western part of Registan Square. It was built under the grandson of Amir Timur – Ulugbek – and became one of the most important centers of learning in the Muslim East of the 15th century. The famous poet, scientist and philosopher Abdurakhman Jami studied here. Minarets rise in the corners of the madrasah. In its courtyard there is a mosque, lecture rooms and living rooms where students lived. Sher-Dor Madrasah stands opposite the Ulugbek Madrasah. Its name translates as “Building with lions”. The Tillya-Kari Madrasah closes the Registan from the north. In addition to the center of education, the main mosque of the city was also located here. Tillya-Kari means “trimmed with gold”, and in fact, its interior decoration is made in the “kundal” technique with abundant use of gold leaf.where you can see many tombstones. The Sheibanids, who led the nomadic Uzbeks, conquered the weakened Timurid empire in the 15th century. The oldest burial in this mausoleum dates back to the 16th century. Behind the mausoleum is the trading dome of Chorsu, which confirms the fact that the Registan was the trade center of medieval Samarkand.

In the vicinity of Registan Square, the remains of the huge cathedral mosque Bibi-Khanym are interesting. Its construction began in 1399 under Emir Timur. After his trip to India the great commander wanted to build the most grandiose mosque in the Islamic world. The best architects of the state worked on this project, they used the latest achievements of oriental construction: majolica, carved mosaics, carved marble, carved wood and painting on plaster. The dome of the mosque was often compared to the firmament. However, in 1405 Emir Timur died and the mosque was never completed. To this day, the outer walls, the portal and some buildings have survived from the mosque.

Not far from the Bibi-Khanym mosque is the ancient settlement Afrosiab, where the capital of the state of Sogdiana was once located. The mysterious burial complex Shakhi-Zinda has been preserved here.. It is a long street along which there are a dozen mausoleums of the 14th-15th centuries with burial places of close relatives of Emir Timur. The main shrine is the mausoleum of Shakhi-Zinda – the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad – Kusam ibn Abbas. On the territory of Afrosiab, the Museum of the Origin of Samarkand is also interesting. Archaeological finds are exhibited here, telling about the history and culture of the ancient capital – Sogdiana.

Not far from the Shakhi-Zinda complex is the mausoleum of Timur himself and his descendants – Gur-Emir. The construction of the mausoleum began in 1403 after the death of Timur’s beloved grandson, Muhammad Sultan. In subsequent years, the mausoleum became the burial place of Emir Timur, his sons Shahrukh and Miranshah, and another of his grandsons, Ulugbek. In addition, Timur’s teacher, Mir Said Baraka, was also buried here. The Gur-Emir mausoleum is a single-dome building with a crypt. Its outer walls and drum are decorated with blue and white mosaics, while its inner wall panels are made of yellow and green marble, painted with blue paint and finished with gilding. Even during the reign of Ulugbek, a tombstone made of dark green jade was installed over the grave of Timur. An inscription is carved on the plate: “Whoever disturbs my peace in this life or in the next, will be subjected to suffering and perish.” This fatal curse has been confirmed.

The Gur-Emir mausoleum is surrounded by other sacred buildings, in its vicinity are the Rukhabad mausoleum, in which, according to legend, the hair of the prophet Muhammad is stored, and the Aksaray mausoleum with the graves of Timur’s associates. In addition, the mausoleum of the prophet Daniel, known in Islam as Khoja Daniyar, is located in Samarkand. According to legend, Emir Timur brought the hand of a descendant of King Solomon to Samarkand and built a mausoleum over its burial place. Today, this mausoleum is a place of pilgrimage, next to it there is a source of holy water. Other alleged burial sites of the prophet Daniel are at the Dzoul Kamein Mosque in Alexandria, in the palace of Darius in the biblical city of Susa in the southwest Iran, and in the city of Hilla in Iraq. In 1908, the remains of Ulugbek’s observatory of 1428 were discovered 2 km northeast of Samarkand on the Kuhak hill. In the Middle Ages, it was one of the most grandiose observatories in the East. Here, in 1437, the famous Ziji-Gurgani catalog of the starry sky was compiled, where 1018 stars were described. Of the equipment of the observatory, only a part of the measuring instrument has survived – a sextant, the radius of which was 40.21 m. Today, on the site of the observatory, there is the Ulugbek Museum, where you can see excerpts from “Ziji-Gurgani”, a collection of astronomical instruments and photographs of excavations. Samarkand¬†and its surroundings attract not only history buffs. The city is surrounded by the Gissar and Turkestan ranges, the Matcha and Fan mountains, which are great places for hiking and ecotourism. The slopes of the mountains are dotted with numerous routes, most of which pass through protected areas.

Slightly east of Samarkand is the Zeravshan Reserve. It was established in 1975 in the floodplain of the Zeravshan River. The total area of the reserve is 2352 hectares. The tugai forests of the middle course of the Zeravshan River and the population of the rare Zarafshan pheasant are protected here. In addition to tugai, shrub thickets and floodplain meadows extend on the territory of the reserve. The main types of vegetation are poplar, willow, sucker, fruit, sea buckthorn, comb, reed, reed grass, erianthus, emperor, licorice, kendyr, azhrek and astragalus. The reserve is home to 17 species of mammals, over 170 species of birds and several species of reptiles. From animals, the tolai hare, porcupine, fox, jackal, badger and numerous rodents are common, from birds – Zarafshan pheasant, black-bellied grouse, pigeons, night heron, white stork, demoiselle crane and various sandpipers.

150 km east of Samarkand on the northern slope of the western part of the Pamir-Alai Turkestan Range, the Zaamin National Park and the Zaamin Reserve are located. These are one of the oldest protected areas in Uzbekistan., the Zaamin Reserve was established in 1926, and the Zaamin National Park in 1976. Almost untouched by man, mountain ecosystems and juniper (juniper) complexes are protected here. The total area of the protected area is 31,500 hectares. The absolute heights of the surface range from 1000 m to 4030 m (Shaukartau peak). The most common types of vegetation are juniper (tree-like juniper), mountain ash, ash, maple, honeysuckle, wild rose, barberry, hogweed, St. Of the animals in the protected areas, the Central Asian goat, wild boar, tolai hare, Turkestan lynx, snow leopard, white-clawed bear, wolf, fox, porcupine, badger, stone marten, ermine, weasel and many rodents live. There are about 150 species of birds here: gray partridge, bearded vulture, golden eagle, black vulture, griffon vulture, wood pigeon, white-winged woodpecker, oriole, black crow, magpie, tits, red-capped finch, juniper grosbeak and rare scops owl, owl, eagle owl, hobby falcon, sparrowhawk, black stork, eagle owl, purple thrush and saker falcon. Of the fish in local rivers, only marinka lives. In addition to the nature protection zone, the Zaamin National Park has a recreational zone where you can engage in a wide variety of types of tourism: hiking, mountaineering, skiing, etc.

The city of Shakhrisabz is located 170 km south of Samarkand.. Its name is translated from Persian as “green city”. Shakhrisabz is known as the birthplace of the great commander Emir Timur. In the 14th-15th centuries the city was called Kesh. The historical center of Shakhrisabz is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At the end of the 14th century, by order of Emir Timur, the construction of the Aksaray Palace began here, the ruins of which have survived to this day. Now in its place you can see two flanking towers, a 40-meter gate, part of the walls and magnificent mosaics in blue, white and golden tones. In the southern part of the palace complex, the mausoleum Dorus-Siadat, which was erected for the eldest son of Timur, has been preserved. To the west is the Kok-Gumbez mosque, built in the 15th century under Ulugbek. Nearby is a complex of mausoleums Gumbezi-Seyidan of the 15th century.

To the east of Shakhrisabz, in the foothills of the Pamir-Alay mountain system, there are two protected areas: the Kitab Geological Reserve and the Gissar Reserve.

The Kitab reserve is designed to protect the monuments of the geological history of the Earth, covering a period of time of 300-400 million years. It is located on the slopes of the Zeravshan Range. About 700 species of fossil organisms were found in the geological sections of the reserve. In addition to the monuments of geological history, the reserve is known for its diverse flora and fauna. Most of the mountainous, including endemic, flora and fauna of Central Asia is concentrated here.

In the Hissar Reserve mountain ecosystems and juniper complexes of the Gissar Range are protected. The area of the reserve is 80986 hectares. The reserve is rich in unique natural objects. In its southern part there is one of the largest caves in Central Asia – the cave of Amir-Timur-Kuragoni (Patrol of Emir Timur). It is located at an altitude of more than 2900 m and consists of two caves with a total length of about 800 m. In the caves you can see high grottoes with stalactites and an underground lake, which is fed by springs. There are also caves in the northern part of the reserve, among them are the largest cave systems in Central Asia of the Kyrtau ridge. Suut-Shar waterfall is located in the upper reaches of the Aksu River.

Samarkand (Uzbekistan)