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Ancient and Unique Uzbekistan: Samarkand region II

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Registan Square in the city of Samarkand is an outstanding example of urban planning in Central Asia.

Its name is translated as “Sandy Place”. The true version, explaining the name of this square in Samarkand, the center of a fertile oasis, says that in the Middle Ages, in all the cities of Maveranakhr, the central squares were called Registan. These were the administrative and trade and craft centers of the eastern cities. Registan Square in Samarkand. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Samarkand Region Tourism and Sports Department.

During the reign of the commander Amir Timur (1370-1405) Registan became the main trading point. And only under the rule of Tamerlane’s grandson, Ulugh Beg, the square is given ceremonial and official significance.

In 2001, the architectural ensemble Registan, along with other historical monuments of Samarkand, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Tourists from all over the world come to see one of the main attractions of Uzbekistan. Registan Square at night. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Samarkand Region Tourism and Sports Department.

The Ulugh Beg madrasah is named after the grandson of Tamerlane Ulugh Beg Mirza (1409-1449) who came to power in the middle of the 15th century in Samarkand. This man is known to the world, not only as a representative of the Timurid dynasty but also as a prominent scientist and astronomer. It was he who began the active construction of educational institutions in Bukhara, Samarkand, Shakhrisabz, and Gijduvan. Ulugh Beg madrasah in Samarkand is a classic example of higher educational institutions of the Muslim East. The Ulugh Beg madrasah. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Samarkand Region Tourism and Sports Department.

The madrasah was built in 1417-1420. In artistic terms, it was not inferior to the buildings of Timur and at the same time significantly surpassed them in its strength.

Initially, the madrasah consisted of 50 hujras, and more than a hundred students a year studied there. According to historians, Ulugbek himself taught in the madrasah. The prominent Persian poet Jami also lived and worked here. Among the most famous listeners of Jami in the madrasah were the sheikh of the Naqshbandi tariqa Khoja Akhrar Vali and the great poet Alisher Navoi.

The building had 2 floors, four high domes over the corner auditoriums, and four minarets in the corners. A giant portal, which occupies two-thirds of the main facade, faces the square with a huge and deep pointed arch. Advertisement

Ulugbek madrasah was badly damaged during the internecine wars in the 18th century. The outer domes and most of the rooms on the second floor were destroyed.

Most of the restoration work was carried out in the early 20th century by prominent engineers and architects of the time. In 1918, engineer M.F. Mauer drew up a project for the temporary strengthening of the main minaret, and the aboveground part of the base of the minaret was also fortified. Over the course of half a century, the courtyard facades were restored, the vault and outer walls of the northern facade were re-laid, the courtyard iwans were fortified, and the unique carved majolica mosaic in the madrasah portal was restored.

At the end of the last century, repair and restoration work began in the madrasah, timed to coincide with the anniversary of Ulugbek. The project included a complete reconstruction of the second floor, the restoration of architectural ceramics, and the replacement of destructive plasters and stalactites in the southwest rooms.

Today, the Ulugbek Madrasah is one of the three pearls of Registan and an invaluable decoration of the historical center of Samarkand, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Advertisement

One of the most famous structures of the 17th century in Samarkand, the Sherdor Madrasah, is also part of the Registan architectural ensemble. For several centuries, the madrasah was a famous Muslim educational institution, within the walls of which prominent philosophers and theologians studied. The Sherdor madrasah. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Samarkand Region Tourism and Sports Department.

The madrasah was built by order of the Ashtarkhanid Yalantgush Bahadur on the site of the dismantled khanqah of Ulugbek in 1619-1636.

The design is made in the traditional Central Asian style, and the main facade impresses with a grandiose entrance portal crowned with a pointed arch.

At first, the building was planned to be named in honor of the ruler Yalangtush Bahadur. However, the people nicknamed the building “Sherdor”, which translates as “the abode of the lions”. The madrasah got this name due to the unique decor on the tympanum of the front portal, which depicts the scene of the hunt of a fantastic animal in the guise of a snow leopard on a white gazelle in the rays of the rising sun face.

Although according to the traditions of Muslims, animals or people cannot be depicted in sacred places, this madrasah has become an exception.

The depiction of predators hunting deer implies the need for students to chase knowledge, as lions chase their prey, and absorb wisdom, as lions eat captured animals. The human face symbolizes the deity and warns: “you need to remember that you are not immortal, even if you are a predator.”

Rui Gonzales de Clavijo, ambassador of the King of Castile and Leon Henry III to the court of the great Timur, wrote in his notes that before the Golden Age of the Timurid period, a leopard was depicted on the standards and coats of arms of Samarkand, as well as a lion or leopard, which, according to a unique legend, told Arab historian Abu-Said Abdul-Rahman Ibn Muhammad Idris, descended from the mountains during the laying of the city of Samarkand and blessed the building.

For nearly three centuries, the Sherdor Madrasah was the most famous educational institution among Muslims. The Sherdor madrasah. This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Samarkand Region Tourism and Sports Department.

The plot depicted on the portal of the madrasah eventually became one of the national symbols of........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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