Wednesday 24 May 2023
Highlights: Exploring Registan Square, visiting the Bibi Khanum Mosque, lunch at Siab Bazaar, learning about science at the Ulugbek Observatory, seeing the tombs at Shakhi Zinda Necropolis, and exmaining Amir Temir Mausoleum
Today was a chance to do a full day of exploring Samarkand in depth. After breakfast we walked back to visit Registan Square up close after last nights light show.
While at the square Rustam provided several detailed history lessons in particular for this site how the three buildings located here were Madrasas which are schools, and in the past they were for full education not just religious education like today. And even before these schools were established this area was a great cross point of the Silk Road having thousands of camels at a time.
We also learnt how the area fell into disrepair and later saw photos of the area in 1930s before reconstruction commenced.
Next up was walk to the Bibi Khanum Mosque which was only 1 kilometre away. The mosque was erected by the order of Timur in 1399-1405 for the capital of Timur’s then empire.
Nearby was the Siab Bazaar which sold almost everything you would want but mostly importantly sold my somas’ for lunch 🙂
It was then onto the Ulugbek Observatory, established by Mirzo Ulugbek’s 14th century who was the grandson of Timur. While Mirzo was leader of a great empire he spend most of his time on scientific discoveries. His observatory catalogue thousands of stars and determine a calendar that was accurate to within 1 hour of what we use today. Truly remarkable achievements for his time.
We then visited the Shakhi Zinda Necropolis which was located in the ancient city and housed Timur’s sister Turkon oko and separately for her daugther Shodi Mulk oko. This was a fascinating insights into tombs for leaders and the rich in the 14th century, the construction and artwork was outstanding.
The group then decided on an optional activity a visit to the Amir Timur Mausoleum. This extra cost 30,000 SOM (about $4 AUD). Given Amir Temur drove out the Mongols and established an empire covering and area that today is 16 countries a visit seemed a must. Originally Timur was going to be buried in his home town and not the capital but when his grandson who was his choosen successor died young he built this Mausoleum. Later he buried his old teacher and then decided he should also be buried here. The interior is glorious and has many gold leafs in the structure.
Today was almost an overload of information about the history of this area. It was especially great to learn about Mirzo Ulugbek and his devotion to scientific discovery. Many people when then think Islam they don’t link it to education or science but for a long time this went hand in hand with religious practises. Very eye opening.
Fantastic stuff! If all goes well I will be following your footsteps next year!