Unusually, Shakhrisabz's Dorus Siadat - Seat of Power and Might - although built by Temur as a burial place for first one, then another, of his sons shows little sign of the restoration that has been so evident at other buildings of this period of Uzbek history. Instead, its reddish-brown bulk, with its most untypical cone-shaped dome, shows only a trace here and there of the magnificent tiles that once covered it.
A crypt, found when a child fell into it in 1943, contains a marble casket that was prepared for Temur to be buried here along with his sons but that was not to be. Samarkand claimed the great khan's body and the crypt's sarcophagus remained empty. A small fee slipped to the guardian will gain the visitor access to the crypt.
The mosque in the courtyard has an attractive high pillared iwan. Whitebeards in their traditional chupans and boots meet here under the shade of the iwan to talk and to pray.
Across the courtyard from the Kok Gumbaz mosque stand two mausolea , each topped by a smaller version of the mosque's great blue dome. These are all that remain of the medressa complex known as the Seat of Respect and Consideration.
The first was built in 1374 by Temur for his father's spiritual advisor and it is thought both men, father and advisor are buried here.
The other mausoleum was built by Ulugh Beg for members of his family who claimed descent from the Prophet's grandson, Husain. One of the gravestones - the Kok Tash (the Blue stone - kok is blue) has a deep groove in the top, worn into it by the thousands of parents who have poured water over the stone in the belief that the water would be infused with health-bringing magical properties that would cure their sick children. Modern scientific analysis has proved the stone's salts have medicinal qualities.
Like the mosque across the way, the decoration here is light and delicate -seemingly Chinese inspired on the walls particularly - though, as in so many places in Uzbekistan, the effects of the dire water problems caused by cotton's insatiable thirst are evident in the damage being caused by the rising water table.
Unlike the mosque in Temur's Dorus Sidiat complex, the dome of the Kok Gumbaz mosque built by his grandson, Ulugh Beg, has been restored to its former azure glory alond with the portal and arch leading into it. The tiling here mimics the astral themes of the tiles on the Ulugh Beg medressa in Samarkand. The internal decoration of the mosque and the two mausolea nearby differs from the usual style of the era in that the largely blue and white palette of the painted and frescoed walls seems to have a strongly Chinese influence - looking for all the world like scenes from a Chinese plate.
All that remains of the huge summer palace -the Ak-Serai, the White Palace- that Temur built here in Shakhrisabz are the remnants of two massive towers that flanked the entrance. That this was once the greatest of all his palaces is attested to by contemporary writings. Now all that remains of all that splendour are the towers with their crumbling brickwork and beautiful (and, so far, unrestored) tilework of blue, white and gold - including a Kufic inscription on one of the towers that say "The Sultan is a shadow" - an incomplete (and somewhat prophetic) version of the inscription on the other tower which says "The Sultan is the Shadow of Allah". No doubt heads rolled over that!
There are steps to climb the west tower for a great view of the city.
Click for full panorama image
The small town of Shahrisabz sits at the foothills of the Zerafshan mountains about 100km from Samarkand. The shorter mountain pass route takes you over the spectacular Tashtakaracha pass but this is often closed and is unsuitable for buses so it is possible you will have to go via the longer, lowland route - a journey of some 3 hours by car. Whichever way you go, the town is well worth a visit.
Once known as Kesh, and renamed Shahrisabz (Green Town - now usually spelt Shakhrisabz) by Temur who was born here, there are several important buildings that date from Timurid times. It is not a big town and most things that you would expect to see on a day's visit are within easy walking distance of each other, no more than a leisurely twenty minute stroll along the street that leads from the statue of Temur and past the bazaar.
It is possible to get day tours to Shakhrisabz from Samarkand. Alternatively shared taxis leave from Suzangaran St, near the museum in Samarkand. The daily bus takes 4 hours on the lowland route which would make it a very long day.
One of the largest mosques in the world was constructed in Samarkand hundreds of years ago. Unfortunately, the dome was too heavy to support itself and collapsed. But the ruins of the mosque are still standing, right near the Samarkand central market.
shah i zinda is a necropolis in samarkand. It's just a street bordered of mausoleum. It's beautiful as registan. There i have met a lot of women and chidren coming for prayer.
At that time (1991) you could still see soviet billboards and posters in the streets, I guess now all that has gone away.
This particular one we saw it at the Samarkanda - Bujara road.