Samarkand: former capital of the Timurid Empire
Samarkand would be my last stop in Uzbekistan and I was really looking forward to my visit as it is probably the best known Uzbekistani destination.
After the delay on the train ride, I did not want to waste further time and left for the Registan, Samarkand’s premier landmark.
Samarkand used to be the capital of Timur (or Tamerlane’s) Timurid Empire. At his death in 1405, it stretched as far west as Eastern Turkey, comprised most of Central Asia, Syria and reached as far East as Delhi. But already before Timur the city was of significance and was held by conquerors such as Alexander the Great (329 BC) and almost a thousand years later Genghis Khan (1220). It was also Genghis Khan who leveled the city, so most of what’s left today is from the Timurid period and later.
As mentioned, the Registan, consisting of three medressas, is the key attraction in the city – and for good reason:
A short walk away are several other monuments:
Opposite the Bibi-Khanym Mosque is the Bibi-Khanym Mausoleum
And across the road, arguably Samarkand’s best restored mosque – the Hazrat-Hizr Mosque.
With a cemetery around the corner.
Except for maybe the Registan, I was almost by myself at all these places.
Not far from the Hazrat-Hizr Mosque and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque was the Siob Bazaar selling fresh produce. It was late Saturday afternoon and it seemed a lot of families were stocking up on food for Sunday.
The next day, I paid a visit to Timur’s mausoleum, the Gur-E-Amir Mausoleum.
Inside the mausoleum not only Timur is buried but also several of his relatives and teachers.
And here’s the main statue of Timur, or Tamerlane.
I then walked to the newer part of town which was nothing to write home about. There is a grave of the unknown soldier commemorating the many Samarkand casualties of WWII.
I ended the day with Lulya kebab at the Karimbek restaurant. Tasty!
Samarkand’s landmarks are truly breathtaking. It is however a more modern city than Bukhara and walking between different monuments, you definitely notice this. Nevertheless, not visit to Uzbekistan is complete without passing through Samarkand!