The Peace Corps era
I arrived in Samarkand in April 2004. I will live here for two years. If you want to read my more extensive adventures and thoughts, go to livejournal.com, search: c_double.
There are innumerable worthwhile sights in Samarkand, but I will mention only five. 1. The Registon: built by Amir Temur, Tamerlane. 2. Gori Amir: the gravesite of Amir Temur, Tamerlane. 3. Bibi Khanum: the monument built to Amir Temur's , Tamerlane, Chinese wife. 4. Ulugbek observatory: the ancient observatory of Mirzo Ulugbek, who determined the circumference of Earth. 5. Shohi Zindah: a temple of sorts that is still in its original condition
Pearl of Central Asia
"Legends about Samarkand"
There are many legends connected with the construction of some historical buildings of Samarkand.
While waiting for Temur from his tour his wife Bibikhonum had prepared him a regal architectural present. To accomplish the construction process, she had asked a young architect to accelerate the works. Having used an opportunity, the young architect had declared of his love to her and had stipulated the condition: he would finish the works in time if she allowed him to kiss her. There are many variants of this legend.
Here is one of the versions written by a poet Khurshid Davron. "When Bibikhonum came to know of the arrival of her husband Temur at Samarkand, and she knew that a young architect was in love with her, she had agreed to perform his condition and, she allowed him to kiss her "but only through a veil". The young man kissed her, burning the cheeks of the Queen and leaving a trace of this act. Having seen a kiss spot on a cheek of the Queen, the young man got frightened and tried to accomplish the works by the arrival of Temur. But he understood, that he wouldn't be saved from the anger and torture of Temur, he made the reed wings and flew away".
Bibikhonum - Saraymulkhanum - the most respected wife of Temur, who was 69 years old when he returned from his invading tour in 1404 and Saraymulkhanum was 65. It is advised nevertheless to believe legends of the great historical personalities.
The historical witness of Her grandeur in the Temur's palace was a Spanish envoy, Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo (1402-1406), who arrived in Samarkand at that time. Klavikho, who was once invited to a reception party given in honor of Temur's arrival at Samarkand, had had an honor to see Saraymulkhanum very close. The reception party took place in the countryside, on the green lawn Konigul. Clavijo gives a thorough description of the Queen's appearance in public. It is the only trustworthy and detailed description of Saraymulkhanum ...
... A solemn appearance of the Queen Saraymulkhanurn had made a great impression upon the European Ambassador. Saraymulkhanurn was a really the most beloved and respected wife of Temur, whom he trusted and consulted with. According to Clavijo's description, Saraymulkhanurn was not only a clever woman, but also a beautiful female representative in the palace among many pretty beauties in the palace. That romantic story with an architect may be connected more with another younger beauty of the Temur's palace and, it would me trustworthy. The legends on Princess and a Master are living in many ancient towns, including also Khiva, Bukhara, Shakhrisabz, etc. As for names of the real builders of the Cathedral mosque, they are still remaining unknown. The cathedral mosque was erected according to Temur's plan, but during his seven-years invading tour. There were attracted the best masters and brought all necessary materials from all corners of the Temur's empire to construct the said mosque. This mosque was designed to symbolize the grandeur of the Temur's empire. When he arrived in Samarkand, the construction was completed and, Temur came to see the subject of his pride. He was terribly disappointed, as he saw that there were made serious architectural mistakes during the construction. The new mosque happened to be lower than the medresseh built in front in honor of the Saraymulkhanum's mother, the erection of which was supervised by the Queen herself. Having fallen into a rage, Temur ordered to kill the builders, to destroy the mosque and build it all over again. That was a story of the Cathedral mosque and medresseh Bibikhanum in the ancient Samarkand. These historical monuments are 600 years old.