Idea #626 – Visiting Samarkand, capital of the Timurid Empire
The historic city of Samarkand, located in a large oasis in the Zeravchan Valley in northeastern Uzbekistan, is considered the crossroads of world cultures, with a history that goes back over two and a half millennia. The remains of settlements dating back to 1500 BC are found in the area, but the most notable period of development in Samarkand was the Timurid period, from the 14th to the 15th century, when it was the capital of powerful timurid state.The historic city consists of three sections: to the northeast is the site of the ancient city of Afrosiab, founded in the seventh century BC; to the west, the city of the Russian period; to the south, the architectural ensembles of the Timurid period, a fundamental period in the development of urbanism, architecture and the arts of Islam. The Timurid rulers have indeed exerted a notable influence throughout the region, leading to the achievements of the Safavids in Persia, Mughals in India and even Ottomans in Turkey.
The old city still contains substantial elements of historical fabric, with characteristic narrow streets, articulated in districts with social centers, mosques, madrasas and dwellings. The traditional Uzbek houses have one or two floors and the spaces are grouped around central courtyards with garden; built of earth, the houses feature painted wooden ceilings and wall decorations. The main monuments include the Registan mosque and its madrasas, originally built of earthenware and covered with decorated ceramic tiles, the mosque and mausoleum of Bibi-Khanum, the Shah i-Zinda complex, which contains a series of mosques, madrassas and mausoleums, and the Gur i-Emir and Rukhabad ensembles, as well as the remains of the Ulugh-Beg Observatory.
Where is it ?