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Information about Uzbekistan:
Short review of Tashkent
Sights of Tashkent
Short review of Samarkand
Sights of Samarkand
Short review of Bukhara
Historical Background of Bukhara
Sights of Bukhara
Short review of Khiva
Sights of Khiva
Ferghana Valley
Short review
Historical Background
Outstanding people of Ferghana
Short review of Kokand
Short review of Margilan
Short review of Kuva
Short review of Kokand
Outstanding people of Kokand
Short review of Namangan
Architecture and monuments Namangan
Outstanding people of Namangan
Ancient settlement of Akhsikent
Short review of Chust
Architecture and monuments of Andijan
Short review of Ancient settlement of Akhsikent
Short review of Ancient settlement of Akhsikent
Short review of Ancient settlement of Akhsikent
Short review of Ancient settlement of Akhsikent
Ancient Khorezm
Fortress Toprak-Kala (2-3 cc.), (4-6 cc.)
Fortress Ayaz-Kala (4-2 cc. BC)
Koy-Kyrylgan Kala, fortress and temple
Fortress of Kyrk-Kyz Kala (1-2 cc., 12-13 cc. A.D.)
Ancient civilization of thousand fortresses
Lost Khorezm
Site of ancient settlement Mizdahkan
Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve
Natural environment
Ecological and ethnographic tourism
People and social environment
Rules of Ecotourism
Wedding traditions in Bukhara
Wedding traditions in Samarkand

Sights of Samarkand

Registan sqaureRegistan sqaure

Registan sqaure is situated in the centre of a historical part of Samarkand. The word "Registan" is translated as "earth-fill area". From ancient times Registan was a place where big fairs, craft markets functioned. Big city arrangments were held here.

Three buildings are harmoniously settled down on the area of Registan: Ulugbek Madrasah (1417 - 1420), Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619 - 1636), Tillja-Kari Madrasah (1647 - 1660).

In 1417 Ulugbek, a favourite grandson of Amir Timur, began building of madrasah, which is named by his name. This is the second madrasah, constructed by Ulugbek, bearing the stamp of its founder. The first madrasah of Ulugbek is located in Bukhara, and the third is in Gijduvan town.

From the very beginning the madrasah of Ulugbek in Samarkand was the higher spiritual institution, original university of the Middle Ages. Originally the madrasah had 50 hujras (cells), where more than hundred students lived in. A well-known Tadjik poet-mystic Abdurahman Djami studied in the madrasah.
According to chronicles, Ulugbek himself gave lectures on mathematics in the madrasah, and other well-known scientists, approached to the governor - scientist's court, also lectured here.

In XVII century on the area of Registan two more buildings - Sher-Dor madrasah and Tillja-Kari madrasah were built. They differ in the impressive sizes and luxury of decoration, though on its art-architectural values concede to their prototype - to an immortal monument of architecture - Ulugbek Madrasah. Sher-Dor ("building with lions") madrasah is located opposite the madrasah of Ulugbek. It had been constructed for 17 years by order of emir Jalangtush Bahadur, the governor of Samarkand.

Later 10 years after completing the construction of Sherdor, under the same governor, the construction of Tillja-Kari madrasah was begun. This madrasah closed the area of Registan from the north. Tillja-Kari is translated as "decorated with gold". The madrasah is richly decorated by mosaic gold from inside. This madrasah, besides its primary task as an educational institution, carried out a mosque role too.

Guri-Emir Mausoleum (14th century)Guri-Emir Mausoleum

The family tomb of Temur and successors of empire was erected in the south-western part of the city in 1404. The mosaic, collected from light and dark blue glazed bricks, decorates walls and a drum. A geometrical mosaic ornament brightly sparkles on the sun.

Restoration works have been begun in 1967; external domes and glaze were restored earlier in 1950. A gravestone in the mausoleum is made of marble and onyx, the tombstone over Timur's tomb is made of the big piece of nephrite. His true tomb is downstairs, in a crypt under the mausoleum.

Guri-Emir Mausoleum

Bibi Khanim Mosque (14th century)

Pearl of Temurids' architecture is a cathedral mosque of Bibi khanim, the beginning of building was in 1399. The year, when Temur began a military compaign to India.

Bibi Khanim is the name of Temur's favourite wife, and was built in her honour. It is situated near to main city gate Akhanin, in the northern part of Samarkand.

The mosque was very great on its sizes and according to memoirs of contemporaries, was topped by a huge dome. Building arches also were unique.


Shahi ZindaShahi Zinda (12-16 centuries)

Memorial ensemble of Shahi Zinda is one of the most magnificent in the east. Paved with burnt bricks road leads to the necropolis. The necropolis is situated on the upland, nearby to archaeological reserve Afrosiab.

Shahi Zinda is a burial place of regal persons and the nobility. The ensemble begins with a burial place of legendary Hussein, the cousin of prophet Mohammed, whose nickname was "Shahi Zinda" (alive king), built in 11-12th centuries. At the present time only constructions of 14th centuries have remained.

The Ensemble of Khodja Akhror (16th century)

The Ensemble of Khodja AkhrorDjami called him "Khodja of khodjas", " a person, who realises the essence of a subject". "People fell face downwards before his sanctity, appearance and strength of mind, ».

His motto was: "for full fulfilment of the spiritual mission in the world, it is necessary to use the political power" - has defined all further social and political activity of "naqshbandiya".

One of his titles of Khodja Akhror was "Hazrat-i Imam". Three main branches of "naqshbandiya" derived from him: central-Asian, West-Turkish and Indian.

In the suburbs of Samarkand, as time goes by, there was formed the sacred cemetery around the tomb of Khodja Akhror. Here, the tombstone from white marble with great number of epitaphs in Arabic on the tomb of Khodja Akhror is especially perceptible. In 16 century the Nadir-Divan begi (1630-1631) ordered to built madrasah and mosque here. At present time the memorial complex of khodja Akhror includes madrasah, summer and winter mosque, columned ayvan and a small minaret, built in 1909.

Observatory of Ulugbek (15 century)

Though this is less impressive construction, but at the same time it is outstanding one. Though its constructor is not well-known as his grandfather, he has been the most unusual governor of Samarkand.

Ulugbek was a scientist, an architect, a philosopher, an artist, for all that he was the master of astronomy, an original Thomas Jefferson of Uzbekistan. Times of ruling of Ulugbek were marked by the period of huge progress in art and in science in his state.

Due to astronomical calculations and supervision he won established fame in the scientific world. His observatory was very extraordinary, 48 metres in diameter, 40 metres in the height, equipped with the newest tools of that time, besides richly decorated by glazed bricks.

Here Ulugbek personally carried out researches and astronomical calculations, which have passed time check. For many centuries after his death, his knowledge was betrayed to oblivion and his observatory was lost, and only this century it have been found out and restored.


Ruhabad Mausoleum (14 century)Ruhabad Mausoleum

The mausoleum is constructed for sheikh Burhaneddin Klych Sagardji, who was highly respected by contemporaries of Temur. Surrounded with an aura of sanctity the name of the sheikh has served as an original cause of the name of the mausoleum - Ruhabad - "Abode of spirit".

Burhaneddin Sagardji died in China, but bequeathed to his son Abu Said to bury him in Samarkand at feet of Nuriddin Basir, one of representatives of dervish order "Loud zikr", whome Timur honoured too. According to some reports the tomb of the sheikh appeared in 1287. The mausoleum over it had been constructed in 1380 by order of Timur and according to the advice of his spiritual instructor Mir Said Bereke. (According to reports of "Kandia" of XII century, made by Abu khafsa Najmeddin Umar, son of Muhammad an-Nasafias-Samarkandi, Burhaneddin Sagardji is buried in Х century).

The Ensemble of Abdi-Darun (12-14 centuries)

The Ensemble of Abdi-DarunCult-memorial ensemble. It was formed on the cemetery at the tomb of Abd-al Mazeddin, the Arabian lawyer of IX century.

His mausoleum with a tent dome in the basis, probably, belongs to XII century. In front of it in the first half of XV centuries there was erected ziyaratkhana (or khanaka), turned to a yard with ancient khauz-pond. This is a building of portal-dome composition; on its portal and drum of the external dome (calotte has not remained) there are strokes and inscriptions, laid out from glazed bricks.

From both sides of the yard, very likely on the ancient bases, the constructions of 1908-1909 are located. The mausoleum is surrounded by family dahma of XV century, tiled with hewn and glazed bricks. In the adjacent cemetery there are marble tombstoes of XV-XVII centuries with epigraphic and formalized-vegetative carving.

In X century the territory of Samarkand, where the ensemble Abdi-Darun is located, represented part of so-called "external city" ("Internal city" - shahristan was located in the territory of site of ancient settlement Afrosiab). There were manors of feudal lords here among gardens and vineyards. "The external city" was surrounded with a wall. Later, in XIV century, in its place there were erected a new wall of Samarkand.

The area of arrangement of Abdi-Darun became very brisk part of the city in XIV century because there were passed two here: one road- upwards the valley of Zarafshan, another one - to the south, towards Kesh (present Shahrisabz) and further through Termez to Kabul and India.

In XV century at an ancient cemetery, nearby to Abdi-Darun, one of the best architectural monuments of Samarkand - the mausoleum of Ishratkhana was built.

Abdi-Darun Mausoleum (12 century)

The ensemble, as well as the mausoleum, is named by name of kadi (gudje) Khodja Abdi or Abd-al Mazeddin, who lived in Samarkand in IX century and was buried here. Addition to the name a word "Darun" means "internal" and specifies, that his tomb is situated inside the city wall of Samarkand. Constructed in XII century, it had been restored in XV century. Restoration has so changed the mausoleum that is absolutely not known how it looked in an antiquity. The mausoleum represents a small square construction with a pyramidal dome on an octahedral drum. The interior of the mausoleum is more than modest, there are no gold paintings, ceramics here. Walls, sails, dome of the mausoleum are plastered by white alabaster. Almost all its area is occupied by the big gravestone.

In XV century near to the mausoleum one-room zayarathana (a premise for fulfiling ceremony of worship - ziyarat) was built. According to researchers' opinion, it is khanaka.

In XIX century here there was built a mosque with a winter prayful hall, ayvan and a small minaret. A winter premise of the mosque, unlike ayvan, is not of great interest. Ayvan is decorated by well-shaped wooden columns with type-setting stalactite wreaths of capitals. Bright, very colourful plafonds are between beams of overlappings.

From North side of a yard there is a small madrasah, built in 1905. The ensemble of Abdi-Darun sets an example of a picturesque composition where the internal space of the yard serves as executive element, to which buildings, greens, khauz-pond are subordinated.

The Mausoleum of Imam Ismail Al-Bukhari

In several kilometres from Bukhara there is a complex including the mausoleum over a burial place of Al-Bukhari Muhammad bin Ismail Abu Abdallah al-Djufi (810-870) - a well-known sunni traditionalist. He was born in Bukhara, has died in settlement Hartanka (near Samarkand). Having started to study hadithes from 10 years old, Al-Bukhari had shown uncommon abilities and unusual memory. For many years he had travelled through various provinces (Hijaz, Egypt, Iraq, Khurasan) of caliphate, comprehending science of hadithes. As the sources report, he listened hadithes from more than thousand sheikhs.

Al-Bukhari aimed to collect all authentic (sahih) hadithes about statements and acts of Prophet Muhammad. From enormous quantity of hadithes Al-Bukhari selected as "faultless" only about 7400 hadithes. From them he compiled the book of "Al-Jami as-sahih", which usually is shortly called "As-sahih".

"As-sahih" of Al-Bukhari is remarkable for that, it is the first collection of hadithes, compiled on a principle of musannaf, i.e. with classification of hadithes by thier plots, which conclude 7397 hadithes with full isnad. "As-sahih" of Al-Bukhari had been already recognised by contemporaries as notable guidebook on fikh and in X century despite criticism of some particulars, along with "As-Sahih" of Muslim occupied first place among the complete works of sunni traditions. For the majority of sunnits "As-sahih" of al-Bukhari became the second book after the Koran.

The Mausoleum of Khodja Daniyar (Saint Daniel)

The mausoleum of Khodja Daniyar (Saint Daniel) is one of the most known cult places in Samarkand. Moslems, Christians and jews eqaully honour him. Daniyar, Daniil, Daniel are names of a saint of Muslim, Christian and jewish literature.

Samarkand historian Abu Tahirhodja Samarkandi (XVIII century) wrote in the book "Samaria": "The burial place of Khodja Daniyar is behind the boundaries of Samarkand, beneath the northern wall of site of ancient settlement Afrosiab. Near to the mausoleum the well-known river Siab flows. Commoners name this tomb as a tomb of Prophet Daniyar, but his tomb is in Mosul. It is said, that this is the tomb of one of companions of Kusam ibn Abbas (the cousin of Prophet Muhammada). Mercy of Allah up on him! The tomb is covered by stones from Zarafshan. It is said, that Khodja Daniyar was very pious. From the head side of the burial place, close to river Siab there is a spring of Khodja Daniyar. Mercy of Allah upon him!".

The Mausoleum of Khodja Daniyar

So what a person is Prophet Daniel?

According to bible interpretation, Daniel in Yiddish means "God is judge", "God is my judge". He was born in Jerusalem in 603 year BC and descended from kings of David and Solomon. When Israel in 586 year BC had been grasped by the king of Babylonia Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was taken away to Babylon (modern territory of Iraq) together with other young men of a notable origin. They began to study different sciences, including astrology and art of interpretation of dreams. Daniel had appeared most capable of Judaic youth. but for all that he was unshakable in religious beliefs. He refused even wine and meat food, having achieved the permission to eat only vegetables in order to follow his religion. Therefore Daniel's wisdom is treated in the Bible as the divine award for devotion. For wise interpretation of one of his dreams Nebuchadnezzar showered him with favour, having made him the most trusted person.

In old age Daniel addressed to the king with the request to release him for resting. After that he moved to Susa (modern Shush in Iran) where he died and was buried in an imperial tomb. It is considered, that the spirit of the prophet preserves the city against all misfortunes and hardships, and Daniel's remains bring to the city prosperity - therefore there will never be poverty and hunger in the city.

According to legend, great Amir Temur during his next seven-year campaign to Asia Minor (1397-1404гг) made pilgrimage to the mausoleum of the saint and decided, that his capital Samarkand should be rich and prospering too.

Part of the remains of the saint were sent to Samarkand with great honours. When the caravan from fifty camels came nearer to the capital, all fifty camels stopped at a place near the bank of small river Siab, where the mausoleum is located now. After burying remains a spring welled up here and people of town and suburbs began to use the water from the spring, believing that it had healing power.

The modern six-dome mausoleum (at present only five domes have remained ) was constructed in the beginning of XX century by the Samarkand masters-soapboilers, whose leader was Mahmud-aksakal. However, due to engraving of the middle of XIX century and photos of the end of the XIX century it is known, that originally the tomb had been covered by a river stone (but the form and appearance of the tomb changed for several times), and from the head side there were some sacred poles - tug. In 1996 the Patriarch of Moscow and Whole Russia Alex II has consecrated a tomb and a tree.

In the mausoleum there is 18 metre tomb. In 2001 in complex territory archeological excavations were conducted. The rests of mosque of ХIV century have been founded. The mosque, as scientists assume, was from beam, and its mikhrab niche has been directed towards Mecca. Archeological excavations proceed and further will give more expanded information of mausoleum history.

The mausoleum of Ishratkhana (14 century)

After overthrow and murder of Ulugbek in 1449, the standards of cultural life of Samarkand could not compete with Hirat's one any more. Under Abu Said (1451-1469), who came to power by support of Abulkhayr's uzbeks, the secular sciences went to decline and genuine scientific activity stoped in Samarkand (Abu Said is son of Ibrahim Sultan and a grandson of Miranshah).

After Abu Said his son prince Ahmed (1469-1494) came to the throne, who is mentioned in "Babur-nama", as a person who never read anything and was uneducated.

Narrow-minded, but good horseman, an excellent bowman, a reveller Ahmed gave almost all power to Khodja Akhrar. Not without reason one of contemporaries wrote, that "almost all power in the state is in the hands of the sheikh, and soon the rest of it could slip away from Ahmed-mirza's weak hands too".

The madrasah continued to function and building activity was conducted here. Son of Khodja Ahrar differed with his erudition and learning. Sultan makhmud, a brother of Ahmed-mirza and the successor of Samarkand throne, possessed knowledge in mathematics.

Ishratkhana is mentioned in the composition of "Samaria" of 30's of XIX century, written by Abu Tahir Khodja, the son of Samarkand gudje. There is quite definitely indicated here, that Ishratkhana is the mausoleum, founded by certain woman Habiba Sultan-begim, a daughter of the emir Jalal-ad-din.

After first period of some attention to Ishratkhana comes the time of its oblivion. Some revival round monuments of Samarkand in the middle of 90's of XIX century has not passed without leaving a trace on Ishratkhana. V.V.Bartold, during his stay in Central Asia in 1893-1894, was told about Ishratkhana, connecting it with nestorian monument, which later, had been transformed into a pleasure palace.

In first half of XVIII century sheikh Baba Khodja Safo, a native of Mecca, received an earth site close to Ishratkhana and founded in the place of former Gari-ashikon, a monastery of dervishes of kalandars' order, which later was named "Kalandarkhana".

Among members of this order there was probably kalandar Shah-Jugut ("Jewish king"), who was almost the only inhabitant of Samarkand in its desolation between 1723 and 1730.

There is one more legend, which any how explains abandonment of the mausoleum. According to legend during Timur's feast in Ishratkhana, Ulugbek, having calculated on his grandfather's horoscope a danger threatening to him, rushed on horseback with the bared sabre in his hands into the hall and compelled feasting to run up.

And at the very same time, when last emir had left a convival hall, the underground rumble sounded, and terrible earth tremor brought down arches of Ishratkhana in that place where Timur had sat for a moment back. Dread Timur graciously regarded impudent act of Ulugbek, who saved his life. The building of Ishratkhan had not been repaired any more since that time.