Places of interest
Kolsai Nationalpark - Kazakhstan, национальный парк Алтын Емель, Altyn Emel Nationalpark, Altyn Emel National Park, Parc National Altyn Emel, Parco Nazionale Altyn Emel

Almaty - Altyn Emel National Park

Almaty - Altyn Emel National Park

In the heart of Central Asia, in the valley of the river Ili, in the Almaty region, lies the Altyn Emel State National Park. The park was established in 1996 to preserve the unique natural complex of the area.

The huge Singing Dune, located in the sands of Altyn Emel, is very popular. The length of the dune is two to three kilometres and its height is about 120 metres. The dune is known for its melodic sound in dry weather, which is why it is also called the Singing Dune. Its song can be heard several kilometres away from here. The sound is created when the smallest grains of sand rub against each other: A blowing wind produces an easy-to-detect squeak, while strong gusts produce a more intense and expressive sound similar to that of an organ. But you can also listen to the Barkhan’s melodies in calm weather. When you step on the surface of a dune, the grains of sand rub against each other, producing an unusual sound. The Barkhan does not migrate despite the wobbly sand, but has been on the territory of “Altyn Emel” for several thousand years. Local legends say that the great Genghis Khan and his loyal warriors are buried under the sands of the Barkhan and the sands sing when the Khan’s soul, “exhausted by mental anguish, tells his descendants of his exploits”.

The five royal burial mounds, called Besshatyr, which translates from Kazakh as “five tents”, are the most famous sights of Altyn Emel. They are earthen mounds that resemble ordinary hills and are more than 20 metres high. Scientists have found that they contain the remains of Sak chiefs who lived around the VII-III century BC. Along the burial mounds are 45 massive stone blocks with carved images of animals. Tourists who see these unusual rows of stones for the first time compare them with the famous English Stonehenge.

There is also a famous monument with ancient rock carvings of Tamgaly Tash. They were carved more than two thousand years ago, around the XVI-XIV centuries BC. They are mainly drawings of mysterious deities and Buddhist inscriptions. The petroglyphs depicting the Buddha Shakyamuni, the Buddha of Infinite Light Amitabha and the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion Avalokiteshvara are widely known among connoisseurs of Indian culture. Many archaeologists from different parts of the world come here to see these mysterious drawings whose enigma is yet to be fully solved. Renato Sala, an Italian archaeologist who was here, said Tamgaly Tas was a very rare monument. He suspected that it was a sacred temple for Buddhists, used for prayers and meditation. The ancient Turkish runic inscriptions from the VIII to IX centuries have been preserved at Tamgaly Tas. They may have been left by the Kipchaks.

The magnificent mountains of Katutau and Aktau with their unusual contours are also an attraction of “Altyn Emel”. On the former were small volcanoes that gave Katutau its unique appearance. The mountain represents flaming lava erupting from a volcano and immediately cooling down again. Thousands of years later, the extraordinary shapes have been miraculously preserved. There are all sorts of shapes and sizes of holes, depressions, crevices and twists, reminiscent of a shelf, a bowl or a king’s chair. There is even a Martian stone in which a cradle is formed into which a human being can easily fit. In general, with a wild imagination, you will always know what is what.

The red, green, pink and even bluish marine deposits that cover the intricate stony slopes of the Aktau Mountains are amazing. The fact is that Aktau was formed on the site of the former sea, which left its mark on the surface of the mountains. Bones of dinosaurs were once found in the mountains of Aktau, and the remains of later species can still be found here.

Altyn Emel is also rich in unusual plant and animal species. The park is home to 634 plant species, 41 of which are rare and 27 endemic. A huge elm tree grows here that is over 700 years old. Near this elm is a stream that quenched the thirst of Genghis Khan’s companions. It takes eight people to reach this elm, it is so big. There is also a tree with incredibly hard bark that people used to carve bullets from. It has the nickname “stone tree”.

Of the animals living in the park, 56 species are listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. These include the snow leopard, the Manul wildcat, the otter, the Central Asian river otter and the stone marten. The graceful Turkmen culans, which were completely wiped out in the 1970s, live here. Eight years later, 23 kulans were brought here from Barsa Kelmes Island. Today there are about 700 Turkmen kulans in Altyn Emel.

40 bird species inhabiting the reserve have been included in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. More than half of the reptile species found in the Almaty region and Kazakhstan live in the reservoirs and swamps of Altyn Emel National Park. The Ili River and Kapchagai Reservoir are rich in fish such as carp, white amur, catfish, bream, zander and asp. Ili marinka, Balkhash perch and spear are listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. The sandy banks of the Ili are a great place to rest, sunbathe and swim in the warm water. Here you can see a hundred-metre-high cliff of red stone overlooking the river.

On the way from one sight to the next, you can try Kazakhstan’s national drinks, shubat and kumys, which are excellent thirst quenchers. You can also stop and ride a horse or camel.

Places of interest
Almaty - Kazakhstan, Christi Himmelfahrt Kathedrale, Ascension Cathedral, Cathédrale de l'Ascension, Cattedrale dell'Ascensione, Кафедральный Собор

Almaty - Ascension Cathedral

Almaty - Ascension Cathedral

The Ascension Cathedral (Senkov Cathedral) in Almaty was built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the Russian architects Borisoglebsky, Stepanov, Troparevsky and Senkov. After the earthquake of 1910, which destroyed many buildings in Almaty, this is the only structure that survived.

The uniqueness of the cathedral lies in its construction: it was built entirely of wood, without a single nail. It is a three-sided church with five domes and a bell tower. With a height of 56 metres, it is one of the seven tallest wooden buildings in the world.

During the Soviet period, the cathedral was misappropriated, so the main decorations with wrought ornaments and stucco have been lost. At various times there was a radio station, a museum and an exhibition hall. The cathedral was restored to its original aesthetic in the 1990s. The interior painting is the work of the artist Nikolay Khludov. The domes are decorated with bright geometric ornaments.

The Ascension Cathedral (Senkov Cathedral) in Almaty is a functioning religious building of the Russian Orthodox Church. The most important relic of the church is the venerated icon of Our Lady of Feodorovskaya.

Places of interest
Almaty - Central Mosque, Zentralmoschee, Mosquée Centrale, Moschea Centrale, Центральная мечеть

Almaty - Central Mosque

Almaty - Central Mosque

The main religion in Kazakhstan is Islam. The Kazakh people have practised the Islamic religion for more than a thousand years. There are more than 20 mosques in the city, but the Friday Mosque on Pushkin Street is the centre of the city’s spiritual world. The Central Mosque of Almaty is one of the largest mosques in Kazakhstan. The mosque was put into operation in 1999. The personal support of the Head of State N.A. Nazarbayev played an important role in speeding up the completion of the construction and handing over the mosque for use by the faithful. The architects are: Baimagambetov and Sharapiev.

The grandiose building has a capacity of 7,000 visitors. The south-western part of the building faces Mecca and is crowned by a beautiful pentagonal mihrab. At the corners of the building are the Guddasta Towers, whose domes are covered with real gold leaf. The majestic building of the Central Mosque is decorated with marble and coloured tiles with Kazakh national motifs. The minaret tower is 47 metres high and the main dome 36 metres. Inside, the dome is decorated with coloured mosaics in which you can read wise suras from the Koran.

When you enter the building, you will find the Friday, ritual and women’s halls. In the Central Mosque of Almaty, there are also special upper mezzanines that serve as additional space for prayers. The entire wall surface is covered with white marble slabs and the portals are decorated with carved wooden doors. A magnificent chandelier with a diameter of about 5 metres hangs under the dome.

Places of interest
Faszination Zentralasien, Fascino Asia Centrale, Fascination Central Asia, Fascination Asie Centrale, Путешествие в Центральную Азию, Charyn Nationalpark, Charyn National Park, Parc national de Charyn, Parco nazionale Charyn

Almaty - Charyn National Park

Almaty - Charyn National Park

The Charyn State National Park in the Almaty region was established to preserve natural landscapes of special ecological, historical and aesthetic value. Due to the favourable combination of various functional purposes of the areas included in the park, they can be used for scientific, educational, pedagogical, cultural and recreational purposes. The territory of the national park includes the valley of the Charyn River.

The Charyn State National Park extends from the Kurytogai Bridge in the south to the beginning of the delta in the north. It is a strip of foothill plains and intermountain hollows on both sides of the river. The Charyn National Park is located in three districts of Almaty Region – Uigur, Raiymbek and Enbekshikazakh.

The valley of the Charyn River is a unique place with remains of prehistoric flora and fauna. With a length of 393 km, the Charyn River is the largest tributary of the Ili River within the borders of Kazakhstan. The Charyn River is a mountain river. The national park is rich not only in unique natural objects and complexes, but also in historical and cultural heritage. The burial mounds and kurgans are of great interest in this respect.

Tumuli are burials above ground or underground with a superstructure in the form of a mound, i.e. a hill. The National Park is charming at any time of the year: in spring there is the scent of flowering herbs and shrubs, in summer you can shelter from the sun in the shade of an old ash tree, in autumn you can admire the bright, rich colours of the ripe barberry, in winter you can calmly watch the ice floes drifting across the blue water like majestic snow peaks of the “Valley of Castles”, and the birds of prey are magnificent and stubborn.

A folk saying goes: “Seeing once is better than hearing seven times”.

Places of interest

Almaty - Chimbulak Ski Resort

Almaty - Chimbulak Ski Resort

Chimbulak Ski Resort is located in the picturesque Zailiyskiy Alatau Gorge at an altitude of 2,260 m above sea level, 25 km from the centre of Almaty. The average air temperature is +20°C in summer and -7°C in winter. The average snow cover is up to 150 cm and the number of sunny days per year is up to 90%. The average snow depth is between November and May. The ski slopes are served by two double chairlifts, a single chairlift and a drag lift, as well as a free drag lift. A 4-seater cable car has been in operation since 2003, opening up a new area for lovers of extreme sports. The lifts take you from 2260 m above sea level to the Talgar Pass (3163 m), with a vertical drop of 903 m. The slopes are prepared with three snow compacting machines (Ratrak).

The lifts start at an altitude of 3163 m above sea level. To your right and left rise the majestic mountains with their snow-covered slopes and evergreen Tian Shan firs. The variety of slopes, including gentle and easy slopes for beginners, long slopes for advanced skiers, FIS slopes, wild valleys with untouched snow and halfpipe for snowboarders, extreme turns for advanced skiers, a special slope for moguls, are Chimbulak’s calling card. New trails are created on Chimbulak every year. The slopes of Chimbulak are certified by the International Ski Federation (FIS). The downhill slopes and the slalom slopes are rightly ranked among the top ten most challenging slopes in the world.

Features of the ski area:

  • The length of the plateau is 3,800 metres
  • Width – 100 to 600 metres
  • Altitude difference – 943 metres
  • Ski area – 2260 – 3163 m
  • Average slope – 12 to 28 degrees
  • The maximum inclination of the slope is 45 degrees
  • Total ski area – 99 acres

At your disposal:
Cable cars, transport services, hotel, ski school, ski equipment rental and repair, sports shop, restaurants, bars, summer grounds, children’s playground, ice skating, ballooning, entertainment programmes and competitions for children.

Sports facilities:
Alpine skiing, snowboarding, snowblading. Throughout the season, Chimbulak hosts competitions in alpine skiing for professionals and amateurs, and snowboarding for amateurs.

Operating hours:
The Chimbulak ski resort of Almaty is open 24 hours a day.
The chairlifts operate daily from 10am to 5pm.
In summer, from May to October, Tuesday is a preventive day.

Places of interest

Almaty - Kok Tobe

Almaty - Kok Tobe

The Kok Tobe of Almaty is not only synonymous with the charm of the mountains, fresh, clean air and a sense of freedom; it is also a place where friends meet, lovers go for walks, holidays with children or simply a pleasant pastime.

Kok Tobe Park is a popular place for romantic dates and family outings. The recreation park is located on the top of Kok Tobe Mountain, 1,100 metres above sea level. The city centre is only a 10-minute drive away, but a ride on the famous cable car offers even more fun and breathtaking views of the city. From the top of Kok Tobe Mountain, you can overlook not only the city of Almaty, but also the enchanting panorama of the Zailiiskiy Alatau foothills.

Kok Tobe Park Attractions

The TV Tower: on the top of the mountain stands the TV Tower, which can be seen on all postcard photos of the city, the famous symbol of the southern capital. At 371.5 metres, the TV Tower is one of the highest in the world and, together with the mountain, is 1,452 metres above sea level. Unfortunately, it is not accessible to tourists, so you can only admire it from the outside.

Monument to the Beatles: on 15 May 2007, the ceremonial opening of the “Beatles” bench took place on Kok Tobe Mountain as part of the “Music Chip – 2007” national award ceremony. This is the first and so far only memorial to the legendary Liverpool quartet in its entirety: John Lennon is sitting on a bench with his guitar, behind him are Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

The sculptor of the Beatles bench is the famous sculptor Eduard Kazarian from Almaty.

Fountain of Wishes “Alma”: The Fountain of Wishes “Alma” is the first to greet visitors to Kok-Tobe and it is always crowded. Someone simply enjoys its coolness, someone thoughtfully tosses a coin into its transparent interior, and someone has their photo taken against the backdrop of a giant granite apple, the symbol of the sunny city of Almaty.

Places of interest

Almaty - Kolsai Lakes

Almaty - Kolsai Lakes

The Kolsai Lakes are one of the most beautiful places in the Almaty region and in Kazakh nature. They are located at an altitude of 1800, 2250 and 2700 metres above sea level. They are characterised by a unique watershed mountain landscape consisting of three natural zones and a variety of rare plants and animals. The Kolsai Lakes are called the Pearl of the Northern Tien Shan and are located in the Almaty region, 300 km from Almaty.

The Kolsai River rises on the Kungei-Alatau ridge and flows into three lakes: the Upper, the Mynzholki and the Lower. The water in the lakes is fresh and hard and contains sodium sulphate. The bottom is shallow in some places, without rocky outcrops. The water temperature is +10 degrees Celsius in summer. A triad of high mountain lakes, strung like a string of pearls, adorns the northern Tien Shan.

At an altitude of 1800 metres, the grass cover of the shrubby spruce forests is represented by tall meadow grasses. The spruce forests of the Tian Shan mainly occupy the northern slopes. Spruces do not form large forest areas, but often grow in large groups. Tang Shan spruces reach a height of 40-50 m and a diameter of 2 m. The coniferous forest belt reaches up to 2700-3000 m and gradually merges into high-altitude alpine meadows. Typical inhabitants of all three natural zones are: Bear, wolf, lynx, hare, Siberian goat, snow leopard, wild boar and badger.

The Kolsai lakes are very deep: the deepest point of the first lake is 80 m, that of the second is 50 m. The water in the second lake is very shallow. The warm season lasts from April to the end of September. The Kolsai Lakes are a destination for many travellers. The hike to the Kolsai Lakes is one of the easiest. If you travel from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan to Lake Issyk-Kul, you can enjoy the beauty and diversity of nature in these countries.

Kolsai is a great place for camping, hiking, horse riding and mountain biking. The nearest settlement is Saty village, 320 km from Almaty. The first lake is 1 km long and about 300 m wide. A road leads to it.

The middle lake is at an altitude of 2,552 m, 5 km above the first lake. It is large and extraordinarily picturesque, like a bowl of turquoise crystal in the palm trees of the mountains. At sunset, the lower and middle lakes teem with playing trout. The upper Kolsay is 4 km further and 600 m higher than the second lake. Behind it, at an altitude of 6 km, is the border with Kyrgyzstan. The Sary Bulak Pass (3278 m) offers a view of the blue Issyk-Kul.

The entire distance to the pass and on to Issyk-Kul can be covered on horseback in one day, on foot the crossing takes 2-3 days. The landscape is mostly forested, the valleys between the lakes are usually designed for three days. Horses can be hired in the village, sledges from the local forester. Hiking trails have been laid out and inns run here. At Lake Kolsay-1, tourists are accommodated in the Zhibek Zholy guesthouse, at Lakes Kolsay-2 and 3 in tents. Kolsai-1 is 300 km from Almaty and 45 km from the Zhibek Zholy guesthouse in Zhalanash. Kolsay-2 and 3 are 2.5 to 4 hours apart.

There are guesthouses on the coast, always ready to receive visitors who want to rest by the lakes with crystal-clear water reflecting the impregnable mountain peaks and slopes. From the windows you have a magnificent view of the lake, and the evenings in front of the fireplace will remain in your memory for a long time.

Those lucky enough to visit these places will never forget the splendour, peace and tranquillity of the surroundings. When the surface of the water is absolutely calm, it reflects the sky and the enchanting panorama of the mountain landscape. The lakes, surrounded by rocks, forests, alpine meadows and whole clearings of delicate olive-coloured edelweiss flowers, will literally enchant you.

Places of interest
Medeo - Almaty

Almaty - Medeo Skating Rink

Almaty - Medeo Skating Rink

The world famous Medeo skating rink is a landmark of the southern capital Almaty. The Medeo is the highest mountain sports complex in the world. This fairytale palace blends into the panorama of the gorge at an altitude of 1961 metres above sea level. The mild climate of the gorge, the optimal sunshine, the low air pressure, the absence of wind and the clear mountain water from which the ice on the skating rink is made, ensured excellent quality and created perfect conditions for high sporting achievements. More than 120 world records have been set here.

In recent years, the functions of the ice rink have expanded considerably. Football, volleyball, basketball and short track speed skating tournaments and competitions are held here. Swimmers, track and field athletes, wrestlers and boxers hold their training camps at the Medeo sports complex. Next to the ice stadium there is a swimming pool, restaurants and cafés.

When people talk about Kazakhstan, they have several images in their heads, including the high-altitude Medeo skating rink in Almaty. And this is no coincidence, because the skating rink is world-famous.

Many citizens of Almaty and guests of the city associate the Medeo skating rink only with the winter season: you come, skate and that’s it. However, we would like our famous Medeo skating rink to hospitably open its doors to Almaty residents and guests all year round. The winter season is dedicated to mass skating and sports competitions, while the summer season is used for sports, entertainment and recreation – “Medeo Amusement Park”.

In recent years, the ice stadium has not been as popular during the summer season, as only unofficial roller and skating parks operate here. This year we are offering a full summer season. Now the skating rink has all the infrastructure for holidaymakers – children and adults to play sports, games or just relax in the fresh mountain air.

The area of the ice rink is 10,500 square metres. We have complete sports equipment for holding bendy and speed skating competitions in winter, as well as a sufficient number of skates for public skating.

For the summer season, we have divided the entire playground into several thematic areas.

First and foremost, a hockey box will be installed to enclose the roller park for the children. In addition, the basketball, volleyball and indoor football courts will be provided with suitable surfaces.

Another area will be a table tennis court. We will also set up tables for those who want to play checkers and chess. There will be a modern playground for children. A skate park with the necessary slides, ramps and obstacles will be set up separately. And guests will be able to skate around these areas on the large stadium bypass. We have not only taken care of the sports facilities themselves, but also all the necessary equipment.

Guests of the complex who have spent their energy on sports activities will have no problems with their recreation. There is a café in the ice rink. A grill restaurant Trader Vic’s is located under the entrance ramp and the national restaurant in Yurts Kazakh Auyl spreads above the sports complex. Alcoholic beverages, however, are not only prohibited on the premises of the complex, but it is also strictly forbidden to bring them. The same applies to smoking.

Medeo used to attract tourists from all over the Soviet Union. Their goal was to hike on mountain trails all the way to Tuyuksu, Kimasar, etc. We want to revive this direction. Nowadays people are literally trapped in the city and need to communicate with nature. Our guests can hike up to Medeu, stay overnight in a hotel belonging to the complex and then go into the mountains in a group led by a teacher. We plan both radial routes, i.e. designed for one day, and longer hikes – from 3 to 10 days, with tents and other equipment. Now the questions of creating the appropriate infrastructure and material base are being worked out, and also the routes, overnight accommodation, questions of tourist safety, food and other vital moments are being thought over, and we hope to realise this programme as early as next spring.

As I mentioned earlier, the hotel complex has been completely renovated for the Asian Games. And although our hotel is located away from the city centre, many guests prefer to stay with us, as in previous years. We don’t have an official “star rating” yet, but the level of service is fully in line with three stars. The more than 90 1-, 2- and 3-bed rooms are equipped with private bath and shower, TV, telephone and hairdryer. Among other things, we have the obvious advantages that city hotels lack: fresh air, mountains, the possibility of relaxing walks. The hotel also has two saunas and a billiards club.

The medical centre is also active and offers rehabilitation services such as massages, hydro-massage and therapeutic equipment for physical training, as well as a fitness room and a physiotherapy room with state-of-the-art equipment. Reception is provided by experienced doctors of various specialities. A conference room for 60 people with complete multimedia equipment is available for organising various seminars and conferences. In other words, Medeo today offers not only good recreation and health promotion, but also efficient use of its facilities for various events. The construction of a large indoor swimming pool is planned for the near future.

It should be noted that the prices for accommodation and other related services are quite democratic.

As always, Medeo is open to all visitors for various events, concerts, festivals and discos.

Finally, I would like to emphasise that the Almaty city administration is currently paying a lot of attention to the development of sports infrastructure and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. Mini football pitches are now being built in the city, and there are small skating rinks in winter. “Medeo will not be left behind in shaping a healthy and sporty nation either. The doors of the ice complex are always open for children. Currently, we are organising various activities, setting minimum prices for school children and inviting children from orphanages and boarding schools to join us for free. Welcome to our famous, revitalised Medeo Sports Complex.

Places of interest
Gökdepe, Гёкдепе,

Ashgabat - Geok Tepe

Ashgabat - Geok Tepe

Geok Tepe is 40 km west of Ashgabat. The famous Battle of Geok Tepe took place on the territory of the fortress. The fortress was captured under the command of the Russian general Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev.

Nurberdi Khan and his son Makhtumkuli Khan were at the head of the Turkmen. Today, one of the most beautiful mosques has been built on the site of the fortress and a museum dedicated to the bloody battle of Geok Tepe has been opened.

As you approach the town, several kilometres away, you can see the slender, 60-metre-high minarets and the turquoise, 40-metre-high dome of the Geok Tepe Mosque. Geok Tepe Fortress was built in 1869 40 km west of Ashgabat.

Geok Tepe Fortress is a remarkable site that played a significant role in the history of Turkmenistan. It was the last fortress to stand in the way of Tsarist Russia’s conquest of Central Asia.

The fortress was built by the Russians on the coast of the Caspian Sea as a base for the advance of their troops into Central Asia. Despite the desperate attempts of the Tekin (locals) to hold the fortress, the Russians attacked in August 1879 and captured the fortress after several days of artillery fire.

The Battle of Geok Tepe was fought with completely unequal forces. A network of thousands of regular army soldiers with dozens of rifles faced numerous but poorly armed Tekke troops.

Only 30% of them possessed firearms, mainly flintlocks, while the rest were armed with sabres, pitchforks and sheep shears. There was only one ancient cannon in the entire fortress. During one of the night attacks, the Teke managed to capture an artillery piece, but they could not use it because there were no men to operate it.

In the face of this unequal balance of power, the Teke commandos managed to maintain the siege for more than 20 days, repeatedly making daring night sorties and inflicting tangible damage on the enemy. Even the Tsarist officers recognised the high military spirit and heroism of the Teke men.

The number of dead among the besieged varies widely. Some sources put the figure at 30,000 people, but one accepted estimate is that about 12,000 to 15,000 defenders and civilians perished.

Due to the mistaken accumulation inside the fortress, there were heavy civilian casualties. Emboldened by the success of 1879, the Tekkeners leaned on the ramparts and were unfamiliar with the effectiveness of artillery and the various methods of warfare.

An underground mine laid on the walls of the ramparts, the explosion of which initiated the attack, caused almost half of the entire population of Akhalteke Oasis to gather in the fort and become unwilling victims of the constant bombardment and all the horror of storming the fort on 12 January.

During several hours of bloody fighting in the attack on 12 January, only a fraction managed to escape into the sand. The Tekinians had resisted heroically to the bitter end, knowing that there was no chance of victory.

The Russians tried several times to capture the Geok Tepe, but finally the fortress was taken in December 1880. The Russians returned to the Geok Tepe, dug an underground tunnel into the fortress, blew up the entrance gate and captured the fortress.

After the conquest of Geok Tepe on 18 January 1881, the Russians marched to Ashgabat and established an East Caspian region that included regions such as Mangyshlak, Kizij, Ashgabat, Tejen and Merv.

Today, Geok Tepe Fortress is one of the country’s historical and architectural monuments. It towers over the Caspian Sea and commemorates a memorable battle that changed the course of history for more than one nation.

Places of interest
Nisa - Turkmenistan, Ниса, Ancienne Nisa, Antica Nisa

Ashgabat - Old Nisa

Ashgabat - Old Nisa

Nisa is an old city whose ruins are located near the village of Bagir, 18 km west of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. It consists of two sites: New Nisa, a Parthian city in the valley, and Old Nisa, a royal fortress on a plateau.

“Ancient Nisa still looms in the distance. Against the backdrop of the sharp silhouette of Kopet Dagh, a tawny hill amidst green foothills, the massif of the ancient city impresses with its majestic serenity.

The mountain itself determines its size. As you walk up the two-metre-high ramp to the only gate, the towers come towards you, leaning forward like a bull.

There used to be forty-three of them on the pentagonal circle of the castle walls. From the crest of the rampart, a huge bowl opens up, its inner recesses riddled with archaeological excavations.

The comparison with a lunar crater is particularly apt here. The ancient structures of Nisa are barely discernible in the tufted grass-covered hills. Only the “Square Hall” is still visible, and that only thanks to the remains of four-lobed brick columns that had fallen aside in another violent earthquake in the fifth century.

This is how the art historian Yury Khalaminskiy described the ruins of Nisa in 1970 – the first capital of the Parthian Empire, which emerged in the III century BC. This city was founded by King Mithridates I, the founder of the Arshakid dynasty, and its oldest part was called Mitridatokert – “Built by Mithridates”.

The founder of the Parthian Empire is considered to be Arshak, the leader of a nomadic tribe of Parthians. In ancient times, the name Parthia (or Parthiena) referred to the area comprising the southwestern part of present-day Turkmenistan and the extreme northeast of Iran.

After the collapse of the Seleucid state, the Greco-Macedonian rulers settled here as well as in Greece and Bactria. In 250 BC, however, power in Parfian passed to the Parthians, and in 247 BC their leader Arshak took the title of king.

Originally, the new state was small and, in addition to Parfian, also included Hyrcania, a region on the south-eastern coast of the Caspian Sea. This kingdom founded by Arshak, with its capital at Nisa, was to become the nucleus of the great Parthian state – one of the four great empires of the early modern period, a formidable rival to Rome.

Under Mithridates I (171 138 BC), the Parthian Empire began to grow. Initially, the Parthian territories came under the rule of Midian (north-western Iran), and in 141 BC Mithridates I was recognised as king of Babylon.

His successor Mithridates II (123-88 BC) continued his conquests in the west. At the end of his reign, Parthia had finally established itself as a great power of the ancient world.

However, the Parthian Empire could not reach the level of economic, social and cultural unity that the Roman Empire had achieved. According to the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, Parthia was not a unified state, but rather a confederation of eighteen semi-autonomous kingdoms.

Nisa, the ancient metropolis now located in the north-east of the vast Parthian empire, could not claim the role of a unifying force due to its cultural weakness, and its importance remained only as a sacred centre, an ancestral reserve of the Arshakid dynasty. The capital of the country was moved to Ctesiphon in Mesopotamia, while Nisa became the repository of the ancient royal sanctuaries.

At the turn of the I and II centuries AD, the decline of the Parthian Empire began. The individual provinces of the empire, which were led by members of the Arschakid family and other noble Parthian families, became increasingly isolated. In the 3rd century, the Assakid Parthia disintegrated completely and a new powerful Sassanid state arose on its ruins.

Part of the ancient capital of Parthia (today’s settlement of Neue – Nisa) survived the Assakid state for many centuries. Already in the XVIII. Century there was a settlement at this place. The ancient site of Mitridatokert – today the ancient settlement of Old Nisa – perished together with the Parthian dynasty. It was probably looted and destroyed at the end of the 1st quarter of the 3rd century.

These two Nisa settlements lie 18 km west of modern Ashgabad. Archaeological excavations began there after the Great Patriotic War and continued for many years.

Mithridatokert was a royal residence. For ordinary mortals, access to this heavily fortified citadel was closed until the end of the Assakid dynasty. Not surprisingly, this “holy of holies” of the Parthian kings gave archaeologists the most significant and unexpected discoveries.

The area of Mitridatokert was surrounded by fortress walls that formed an irregular pentagon of about 15 hectares in area. There were probably bastions at the corners of the fortress, while 43 towers were distributed at regular intervals along the entire length of the wall.

Access to the single gate was via a long (about 250 m) sloping ramp, so that anyone entering the city faced the guards as if on the palm of their hand.

Ancient Nisa was almost completely excavated by archaeologists. They uncovered the “southern complex”, which is now considered to be the remains of a royal palace, and the “northern complex”, which includes the “Square House” – the former royal treasury – and wine storage rooms.

A very interesting and important find is the archive of the tsarist economy – about 2.5 thousand clay vessels with texts containing mainly economic accounting records.

One of the most important structures in Old Nisa is the “Square House” (as it is called by archaeologists). The foundation stone for the Square House was apparently laid at the same time as the founding of Mitridatokert.

The building was a closed construction of bricks with a large inner courtyard (38 x 38 m) and twelve storerooms along the perimeter of the building, three on each side of the courtyard.

The blank walls of the building faced outwards, with only a narrow entrance on the side, in the southwest corner of the building, leading inside. The original purpose of the Square House is not entirely clear. M.E. Masson and G.A. Pugachenkova suggested that it was a storehouse for provisions that accompanied the first Parthian kings buried nearby to the afterlife.

In the last years of Mitridatokert, the “Square House” was a royal treasury. Very valuable finds made by archaeologists in the ruins undoubtedly testify to this.

Apparently, the treasury was looted in antiquity – probably when ancient Nisa, destroyed by the enemies of the Assakids, perished. But a considerable number of art treasures remained under the ruins, biding their time.

A considerable number of them seem to have been brought at one time from the western regions of Parthian power and even from more distant regions and lands. These finds included marble statues, remains of ceremonial furniture, coins from ancient Black Sea cities, gilded terracottas and fine silver statuettes representing Athena, Eros and other ancient gods.

The most sensational and significant find in Nyssa, however, were the magnificent rhytons – horn-shaped wine glasses made of ivory. A total of about forty of them were found, including the remains.

The rhytons from Nisa are outstanding and extremely interesting examples of the art of ancient bone carvers. These large vessels, up to 40-60 cm high (archaeologists date them to the 2nd century BC), were used for ritual libations.

They were probably used to pour wine over an altar or sacred bowl. The pointed end of the horn was crowned by carved figures of gods, griffins, winged elephants or the image of the bull-man Gopacha, the powerful patron of waters and herds.

A wide frieze decorated with many figurative scenes surrounded the riton. The rhytons themselves, the figures of winged griffins and other fantastic creatures that complete them, are Persian.

This particular type of vessel is well known in the East, especially in Achaemenid art. The reliefs that decorate the upper part of the rhytons, however, are purely Greek in plot and style.

On one of the rhytons, an inscription with the name of a Greek deity in Greek letters has been preserved. Thus the rhytons from Nisa can be regarded as Persian-type vessels with Greek decoration.

But who and where could such a “hybrid” be made? The fact that these rhytons originated in the East proves nothing – during the Hellenistic era rhytons were widely used throughout the ancient world.

So the rhytons from Nisa could have been made either by Greek masters who identified with Oriental influences, or by carvers from the East who were well acquainted with Greek mythology and ancient art.

According to experts, however, some small details indicate that the rhytons found in the ruins of the Square House most likely originated in Gandhara, a region in the northwest of present-day Pakistan that was once part of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom.

One of the most important monuments in ancient Nisa was the so-called square arse. Its purpose is not clear to the end. It is assumed that it was a fire temple in the time of the first Arshakids.

Later, when the capital was moved from Parthenes and Nisa was only a revered ancient residence, this temple became an ancestral shrine of the royal dynasty, where fires were lit in honour of deceased and deified Parthian kings.

It is still unconfirmed that the Square Hall may have served as a hall for official receptions. However, there is no doubt that important ceremonies were held here – the hall was too lavishly and solemnly decorated. In terms of its structure, it is a typical Iranian “fire temple”, but its interior has Greek features.

The entire structure stood on a solid, two-metre-high platform of rough bricks. The area of the hall, to which three corridors led, was 400 square metres (20 x 20 m), and the height of the hall was 10 metres. The hall was closed by a flat wooden roof with a large skylight in the centre, supported by four central posts made of specially shaped bricks.

The three-metre-thick walls were divided into two floors: The lower one was plastered and whitewashed, the upper one painted dark red. The capitals of the pilasters were painted blue, pink, cream and crimson, while the walls were painted with white-red-black ornaments.

Between the columns in the niches of the upper tier were 2.5 m high clay statues of men in armour, cloaks and trousers and women in long, folded white robes and bright red “headdresses”.

Most likely, these were representations of deified ancestors of the Parthian kings. The so-called round temple, a cylindrical building covered with a high brick tent and standing on a massive square foundation, was part of the ensemble of sacred buildings in Old Nisa.

It is possible that this was the burial chamber of the Parthian kings: Although no tombs were found here, the building type itself goes back to very old concepts of funerary architecture.

In its construction and some details, the round temple resembles the Greek temple of Arsinoion on the island of Samothrace (1st century BC), which was dedicated to the cult of the great gods, the Kabirs.

This cult later merged with the worship of the divine twins Dioscorus, who were considered patrons of the Seleucid dynasty. The round temple in ancient Nissa, however, differs considerably from its Greek “counterpart” (or prototype?).

Its structure is quite similar to the nearby “Square Hall”. The central hall of the round temple (its diameter was 17 m) originally also had three passages, two of which were later filled in.

The walls of the hall were also divided into two tiers; they were divided by columns, between which stood large painted clay statues of gods instead of deified kings in niches.

The light from the upper lantern illuminated the white of the walls, which were only shaded by the Greek terracotta frieze. The second temple of the Ancient Nissa, the “Tower Temple”, is the worst preserved. In one of her sanctuaries there was a statue on a pedestal. It is thought that it may be the image of Arshak, the founder of the dynasty of Parthian kings.

However, the most famous of the sculptures found in Nisa is the so-called Rodoguna. This short (approx. 60 cm) marble figure of a naked woman was undoubtedly brought to the Parthian capital from the Mediterranean – most likely from Alexandria.

The woman is depicted in the canonical pose of Aphrodite wringing out her wet hair. Her stern and commanding face, however, suggested the PA. Pugachenkov realised that the sculptor had not depicted the Greek goddess of love, but Rodoguna, the Parthian princess and courageous daughter of Mithridates I.

The image of Rodoguna was very popular among the Parthians. She was the wife of a Syrian viceroy. One day, while the princess was washing her hair, news came that one of the conquered tribes had rebelled. Not wanting to lose any time, she put on her armour, jumped on her horse and rode into battle, vowing not to do her hair until after the victory.

Excavations in the ancient Parthian settlement of Ancient Nisa have revealed to archaeologists many secrets of the special Parthian culture. And not only in Parthia – according to experts, Nisa provided more information about the period of Greek rule than the Greek settlements themselves.

At the same time, the excavated buildings of Old Nisa typologically reflect both Iranian and ancient Near Eastern traditions. Even in the settlements of the Greek-Bactrian area, archaeologists have found nothing comparable!

The synthesis of local and Greek origins was much more pronounced in Parthia and the studies at Old Nisa have clearly highlighted this particularity of Parthian culture.

Places of interest
Siedlung Anau, Settlement Anau, Colonie de Anau, Insediamento Anau, Городище Анау

Ashgabat - Settlement Anau

Ashgabat - Settlement Anau

The settlement of Anau is located 12 km east of Ashgabat. Archaeological findings indicate that the settlement of Anau already existed in the Neolithic period (IV-III millennium BC).

The culture from this period is known as the Anau culture. The spread of adulterated building material – raw bricks – is associated with this culture. There are numerous monuments from the Stone and Bronze Ages on the territory of southern Turkmenistan.

These monuments have been preserved in the form of mounds of different sizes and heights, called “depe” in Turkmen. These mounds consisted of the remains of dilapidated mud-brick buildings.

Anau Depe is a typical monument of southern Turkmenistan from the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Not far from Anau Depe, east of Ashgabat is the historical monument – Anau settlement, on the site of which stands a XV century mosque.

The mosque hardly attracted the attention of the members of the Carnegie Institution expedition led by R. Pampelli, who excavated the so-called Southern and Northern Hills of Anau in 1904.

During the archaeological investigation of Fort Anau in 1947, the main stages in the history of its development became clear. The 10-metre-thick lower layers contain archaeological material that allows the fort to be identified with the Parthian camp of Gatar mentioned in Isidore Haraksky’s Diagonist.

In feudal times, the settlement flourished in centuries IX-X. After the Mongol invasion, life here came to a virtual standstill. Only in the XIV century did urban life revive, reaching its peak in the XV century – as evidenced by archaeological layers almost 2.5 metres high, rich in “Timurid” material.

The construction of a mosque and a rainwater reservoir, the Sardoba, is associated with this period.

Places of interest
Монумент «Қазақ елі»

Astana - "Qazaq Eli" Monument

Astana - "Qazaq Eli" Monument

During the acquisition of sovereignty, there has never been such a monumental site. It is a unique architectural structure that has no equal in the world. The total area of the monument “Qazaq Eli” in Astana is 5.2 hectares, and it occupies a special place in the history of the country. “Qazaq Eli” is a large-scale complex reflecting the ancient history, culture and achievements of the Kazakh people.

The height of the monument is 91 metres. It symbolises the year Kazakhstan became an independent state. On the top sits the Samruk bird, symbolising Kazakhstan’s desire for further development and prosperity. It is not for nothing that this architectural and sculptural monument is called “Qazaq Eli” in Astana. It is a symbol of independence.

The white marble complex has a great compositional content that has absorbed the past and present of the Kazakh people. The monument is not only a symbol of independence, but also a sign of unity, solidarity and eternity of the people’s spirit. The plinth on four sides of the monument is decorated with bas-reliefs that tell the story of the Kazakh people. The first bas-relief is “The President and the People”. The central image is that of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, placing his hand on the Constitution and taking the oath, symbolising the rule of law in an independent state. Behind the president are people in relief, embodying the inhabitants of a friendly great country. Doves symbolise freedom and peace.

The bas-relief in the southern part of the monument is entitled “Courage”. It is based on the fact that defence of the state is one of the most important and sacred values of the Kazakh people. The bas-relief reflects the chronological perspective of military bravery, heroism and courage inherent in the Kazakh people. The bas-relief located in the western part of the monument is entitled “Creation”. It tells of epochal phases of human development and prosperity from nomadic times to space travel. In this part you can see the metallurgist and the oilman, the engineer and the farmer, the builder and the cosmonaut, all of whom made invaluable contributions to the socio-economic development of the country. In the eastern part, the bas-relief is entitled “The Future”. It is dedicated to the youth of Kazakhstan who strive to excel in science, culture and sports. Significantly, newlyweds stand in the centre of the composition, indicating the revaluation of family values and calling for the strengthening of the institution of family and marriage – the foundation of Kazakh society.

Places of interest

Astana - Akorda

Astana - Akorda

In the centre of the new capital of sovereign Kazakhstan, an architectural ensemble has been built that is unique in its artistic significance and size. Its most important component is Akorda of Astana, the residence of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The residence is the compositional centre of the urban ensemble. The main axis of the Astana architectural complex has the following vertices: “Khan Shatyr” – “Baiterek” – “Akorda” – “Palace of Peace and Harmony” – “Kazak Eli”. The compositional axis of the architectural ensemble embodies the ideas of preserving the continuity of the Great Steppe traditions, promoting the Eurasian culture of tolerance and creating a strong Kazakhstan as part of the modern world civilisation.

“Akorda” is one of the visible signs of the new development philosophy of Astana city and the country. The symbolic and functional purpose of the building is reflected in the design of the facades and the interiors – in their stylistic and colour design. Traditional European architecture is filled with new meanings. Kazakh and oriental motifs in the architectural decoration of the palace are expressed in the theme of circles and ornamental decorations. A special feature of the project is a unique collection of Kazakh art, which gives the residence an artistic integrity. Metaphorically, it reflects the steppe civilisation in the mirror of European culture, a synthesis of the arts of the largest continent on earth, Eurasia. The works of Kazakh artists exhibited in the residence represent the necessary balance between the West and the East that Kazakhstan prides itself on, positioning itself in the world as a state that unites the cultures of great civilisations.

Construction began in 2001 and well-known European and Kazakh architects worked on the project, including the renowned European designers M. Gualatsi and A. Molteni. Academician K. Montachayev was called in to design the interiors in the national style. Experts and workers from 26 countries were involved in the construction of the most important state institution.

The official presentation of the new residence of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan took place on 24 December 2004. The total area of the building is 36 720 square metres, its height with tower 86 metres. The building with five above-ground and two underground floors is made of monolithic concrete and was constructed using the most modern construction methods and advanced technical equipment. At the same time, the height of the ground floor is 12 metres.

Special attention is paid to the design of the ensemble’s outdoor facilities. The square in front of the Akorda emphasises the solemn character of the main façade. The solemn atmosphere is further enhanced by the fountain and the flower avenues. The composition includes driveways and asphalt paths, small architectural forms and parking areas. The area is framed by a decorative fence with lighting.

The name of the Head of State’s residence has a deep semantic meaning. Literally, “Akorda” means “white pole”. The colour scheme of the facades and interiors of the residence is dominated by white and light shades. “White” in the semantics of Turkish culture means primarily sacred (sacral). This term stands for joy and prosperity, sincerity and nobility, honour and goodness. The rich symbolism of the colour white is reflected in the architectural appearance of Akorda. This is especially reflected in the colour scheme of the main interior spaces. White as the basic and guiding colour comes in a variety of shades, from pure white to ivory. Gold, blue and green complete the colour palette.

All the common rooms have exclusive interiors, chandeliers and furniture. The floors are finished with various types of marble and granite, as well as artificial parquet.

On the ground floor is a central banqueting hall with an area of 1,800 square metres. It is intended for official receptions in the presence of the Guard of Honour. In the centre of the hall is a large dome with a crystal chandelier.

In addition, on the ground floor there is a banquet hall for official receptions of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a hall for press conferences and meetings of the Head of State with media representatives, and the winter garden.

Offices are located on the first floor.

On the third floor are:

– The Oriental Hall, stylised in the shape of a yurt and furnished with marble and granite.

– Marble Hall for signing documents during official visits and summits attended by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and foreign heads of state and government. Ceremonies are also held here for the presentation of credentials by ambassadors of foreign states accredited to the Republic of Kazakhstan, and for the conferring of state awards and honorary titles of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

– The Golden Hall, used for talks and meetings of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan with foreign heads of state and government in a close circle, for meetings and talks of the Head of State with foreign delegations and ambassadors of foreign states accredited to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

– The Oval Hall, used for high-level negotiations between delegations of the Republic of Kazakhstan and foreign states, meetings and talks of the Head of State with foreign delegations and representatives of foreign business circles.

– The Guest Hall, used for talks between the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and ambassadors of foreign states after the presentation of credentials.

– The Extended Negotiation Hall is used for high-level negotiations between the delegations of the Republic of Kazakhstan and foreign states.

– The Security Council Chamber is used for meetings of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

On the fourth floor are:

– Dome Hall, where meetings of heads of state at the highest level, meetings of the President of Kazakhstan with representatives of ministries and agencies, parties, movements and creative intellectuals of the country, as well as meetings of consultative and advisory bodies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan are held.

– The conference hall is intended for holding meetings of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the Government, heads of departments of the Presidential Administration, heads of regions and cities of Astana and Almaty, heads of ministries and agencies, as well as meetings of the Head of State with representatives of business circles of the country.

– Negotiation hall used for meetings and talks of the Head of Administration of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Adjutant of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan with foreign delegations, ambassadors of foreign states accredited to the Republic of Kazakhstan and representatives of foreign business circles.

– Library with a unique collection of books.

The basement floors house various technical services, garage rooms, kitchen and canteen.

In general, the architecture and interior design of Akorda reflect the modern state style of Astana and Kazakhstan. The style whose foundations were laid in the first years of independence and which today can rightly be considered established in its main areas – state symbols, insignia of power, cut of official uniforms, national currency. Today, the Akorda residence of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Astana is one of the most important and well-known symbols of our country.

Places of interest

Astana - Atyrau Kopiri

Astana - Atyrau Kopiri

On 1 July 2018, a new pedestrian bridge called “Atyrau Kopiri” was opened in Astana. The new bridge is a gift from the Akimat of Atyrau Region to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the capital.

Engineers and architects designed this bridge to connect the pedestrian flows and bicycle network of the park zone and the shoreline of the right bank of the Esil River.

The bridge’s exterior resembles a fish scale – the symbol of the Atyrau Region. The decorative design of the bridge consists of 2,450 aluminium leaves, each with its own shape. When you walk inside, you have the feeling of being inside a big fish.

According to the builder, the outer skin of the bridge consists of triangular aluminium cassettes that provide protection from precipitation and safety. In the middle of the roundabout is a public square in the form of a diamond-shaped marquee.

The design of the building is in the style of Biotec architecture with organic, natural forms. The envelope of the bridge has a floral pattern according to the Fibonacci law, also known as the golden section.

On the side of the bridge with the park and amphitheatre is a monument to the Caspian Sturgeon, the symbol of Atyrau.

The total length of the footbridge is 313.5 metres and its width is 10.5 metres. The structure includes a six-metre-wide pedestrian lane, a three-metre-wide bicycle lane, a 0.5-metre-wide safety lane and two 0.5-metre-wide lanes for crash barriers. The steel structure weighs 1,920 tonnes. The surface of the bridge is made of lithacrylate. On both sides of this bridge in Astana, there are stelae with the inscription “Atyrau Kopiri” (“Atyrau Bridge) on each river bank.

Places of interest

Astana - Bayterek

Astana - Bayterek

In 2002, the monument “Astana – Bayterek” was erected in the centre of Astana city. This monument proves that the history of the Kazakh people is like a mighty tree with a wide-spreading crown and strong, long roots that reach seven layers deep into the earth. The roots reach far and the leaves are high; we will grow and develop, that is the meaning of the object.

The Bayterek in the city centre supports the sky. The building is 97 metres high and symbolises the year in which the new capital was proclaimed. According to the architectural design, the Bayterek consists of three parts:

– The first part, the lower level, goes down 4-5 metres. Here there is a small model of an underwater kingdom – a 7-metre aquarium in which fish swim.

– The second part is the Bayterek, a metal structure on which two low-noise MITSUBISHI high-speed lifts run.

– The third part is a sphere with a diameter of 22 m and a weight of 300 tons, made of the chameleon glass SUN GLASS, which changes its colour depending on the sunlight and symbolises the golden egg of the magic bird Samruk.

To visit the glass sphere, you have to take the panoramic lift to the very top of Bayterek. You will first reach a platform from which you can admire the city from a height of 93 metres. From here you can see the new administrative centre as if in the palm of your hand. The Akorda, the government building, Fountain Avenue, the Senate, the Majilis, the Supreme Court, the buildings of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Transport and Communications, the buildings of KazMunayGas, KazTransOil – everything blossoms before your eyes.

From the high tower, the vast steppe has a magical effect, and you stare at the huge horizon for a long time until it disappears into the night. At the highest level, 97 metres above the ground, there is an imprint of the palm of the first president of Kazakhstan, Ayaly-Alakan. When you put your hand on it, the song “Menin Elim” is heard, and it seems that all of Kazakhstan is singing along.

If you admire the tower at night, specially installed night lighting colours Bayterek with up to five hundred shades, as lighting is achieved by special computer means.

Today, “Astana – Bayterek” is a popular place not only for the residents of Astana and the Republic, but also for all visitors from near and far abroad. In 2002, the Grand Prix won the 10th International Competition of the International Union of Architectural Associations of the CIS countries and the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Moscow, St. Petersburg won the Grand Prix and the gold medal. In 2003, Astana was awarded the Silver Medal for the Architecture of the New City at the World Triennial of Architecture in Sofia, Bulgaria. In the same year, she was unanimously awarded the Grand Prix and Gold Medal at the Festival of Architects in Bishkek.

Places of interest

Astana - Hazrat Sultan Mosque

Astana - Hazrat Sultan Mosque

The Hazrat Sultan Mosque is now one of the most modern landmarks in Astana. It is the largest mosque in Central Asia, on which 1,500 construction workers worked for three years until it was opened in 2012. The building itself resembles an oriental palace and is the most beautiful architectural monument in the city of Astana.

The mosque has a dome with a height of 51 metres and a diameter of 28 metres. At the corners of the mosque are four 77-metre-high minarets, and around the main dome are eight smaller domes. The mosque is built in the classical oriental style. White was chosen as the main colour for the façade and the interiors. Massive white columns adorn the central hall of the mosque. They enhance the sense of monumentality of this beautiful creation. The interior and the façade are decorated with traditional Kazakh ornaments.

The mosque, with an area of 11 hectares, can accommodate ten thousand people at a time. There is a hall for weddings, a prayer room, a room for ablutions, a cloakroom and rooms for seminary classes and Quran reading. The Hazrat Sultan Mosque in Astana is a must-see for its unique architecture and impressive interior.

Places of interest

Astana - Museum of the First President of Kazakhstan

Astana - Museum of the First President of Kazakhstan

The Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan began its work on 4 July 2005 in the building of the former residence of the Head of State, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city of Astana. The unique decorative pieces and the interiors that make up the entire complex have been preserved intact. The museum’s exhibitions show the main stages of the formation of sovereign Kazakhstan and tell of the life and work of our country’s first president.

The first exhibition room opens with a map of the vast Kazakh land and the ceremony of the swearing-in of the first President of Kazakhstan. The museum’s scientific and referential, systematised system of recording and preservation corresponds to the level of world-class museums. Currently, the museum houses more than 60 thousand exhibits, including manuscripts and printed matter, films and photographs, works of fine, decorative and applied art, weapons, personal items, documents and a collection of awards of the first President of Kazakhstan. The museum’s collection includes gifts and awards presented to the Kazakh President by foreign heads of state and government, international organisations and foundations, leading world companies and citizens of our republic. The exhibits are of interest both as priceless relics and as remarkable works of art.

A number of scientific works by the head of state himself and a number of prominent personalities of our time have found their worthy place here. Many of them are unique because they have autographs.

There is archival material about the path from a simple metallurgist to the head of state and about historical moments connected with the great world of work in the cities of Dneprodzerzhinsk, Temirtau and Karaganda.

In Museum 1 and 2, the President’s reception rooms and his study have been preserved intact.

Today, the Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Astana has become a prestigious research, educational and cultural centre, which has become one of the attractions of the capital of our country.

Everyone knows the historical fact of the fateful transfer of the capital to Astana during the creation of the young state and how difficult the president’s decision was. Today Astana is the pride of Kazakhstan, a symbol of state unification and an embodiment of the national idea. Kazakhstan’s development is closely linked to the future of the capital, which is rightly an element of the country’s new image. The exhibits of this museum in Astana tell about the stages of the formation of independent Kazakhstan and the role of the country’s first president in these transformations.

Places of interest

Astana - National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Astana - National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan

The National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan was opened in Astana on the initiative and direct order of Head of State Nursultan Nazarbayev. At present, the collection comprises over 175 thousand exhibits.

On 17 March 1998, an expanded meeting of the State Commission for the Celebration of the Year of National Unity and National History was held, at which the Head of State addressed intellectuals, personalities from the fields of art, literature and religion and for the first time announced the idea of creating a national museum and also laid down the basic structures of the future museum. At an expanded meeting of the Public Council for the Implementation of the Cultural Heritage Programme, the Astana Akimat and the Ministry of Culture and Information, on the instructions of the President, began the practical steps to establish a museum of international standing.

The construction of the museum was financed by JSC KazMunayGas. The main contractor was the company “Basis Project LTD”, the design was developed by the South Korean company “Desiqn be Art” in cooperation with the Kazakh designers, and the construction work was successfully carried out by the Turkish company “Turkuaz Construction” LLP.

The National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan was opened in July 2014 with the participation of the President in Astana and harmoniously blended into the overall picture of Independence Square, which unites the symbol of statehood – the monument “Qazaq Eli”, the Palace of Peace and Harmony, the National Art University and the mosque “Khazrat Sultan”.

The amazing building consists of seven blocks with different heights from two to eight floors and a total area of 74 thousand square metres. Thus, the exhibition area is 14 thousand square metres and the volume of the museums is 5 thousand square metres.

The halls of ancient and medieval history, history, gold, ethnography, independent Kazakhstan, Astana and modern art introduce visitors to the history of the country. In addition to the exhibition halls, there is a research institute “Ұltyk Miras – National Heritage”, restoration workshops, laboratories, museums, venues for temporary exhibitions, libraries with reading rooms, a conference hall with simultaneous translation equipment.

The exhibition of the Ancient and Medieval History Hall presents tools and objects of daily life from the Stone Age, archaeological objects from the Bronze and Iron Ages, and artefacts from the medieval history of Kazakhstan (ceramics, numismatics, tools), providing an overview of the ancient and medieval history of the country. The exhibition of the History Hall presents the history of Kazakhstan from the XV to the XX centuries, showing the main stages of the history of the founding and development of the Kazakh Khanate, as well as the history of the uprisings of the Kazakh people for national liberation.

The exposition of the Gold Hall shows gold objects of the ancient nomads of Kazakhstan – unique finds from archaeological excavations. The Golden Man, the Sarmatian warrior from Atyrau found on the Issyk burial mound, as well as priceless finds from the sites of Chilikty and Berel and the cemetery of Taldy arouse genuine admiration for the ancient nomadic culture. The exhibition in the Hall of Ethnography presents a variety of jewellery, traditional costumes, a traditional Kazakh dwelling – a yurt – and also everyday objects of the Kazakh people. An exchange fund will also be set up, making it possible to acquire rare exhibits from abroad.

The history of the emergence and development of independent Kazakhstan is of great interest to visitors. In this respect, the chronicle of a quarter of a century of struggles for independence and the search for new ways is reflected most clearly in the halls of Independent Kazakhstan and Astana. The halls of independent Kazakhstan present the history, politics, economy, culture and art of the country that succeeded the ancient Turks and found its way to development in many ways.

The exhibition in the Astana Hall, which tells the story of the development of Kazakhstan’s young capital, attracts special attention. The recent history is told in the language of photos, plans, diagrams, models, archival documents and objects. In the Astana Hall, a unique dynamic Astana model and media floor will take centre stage, forming a colourful show together with a large curved screen. The trilingual multimedia guide is a faithful companion, effortlessly guiding visitors through all the halls of the museum.

Places of interest
Nur Sultan (Astana) - Kazakhstan

Astana - Nurjol Boulevard

Astana - Nurjol Boulevard

If you are in Astana and have footpaths, alleys, new modern buildings and important architectural symbols of the capital right before your eyes, you are probably on Nurjol Boulevard. This open-air attraction is the central axis of the new Astana architectural ensemble.

The boulevard leads from the Akorda presidential residence to the Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment centre. In the middle of the boulevard is the Baiterek, and along the boulevard are the administrative buildings of the main government agencies and private companies. These include the government, the Senate, the Majilis, the Supreme Court, the House of Ministries, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, JSC NC KazMunayGas, JSC NC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, the State Archives and the National Library.

The pedestrian zone is decorated with flower beds, fountains, beautiful flower avenues with benches, as well as many fountains, each with its own design and unique image.

Places of interest

Astana - Opera and Ballet

Astana - Opera and Ballet

The state opera and ballet theatre “Astana Opera” was founded in Astana in 2013 on the initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. At the opening of the theatre, the head of state said: “A country that builds factories and roads creates a solid foundation for the years to come. A country that builds schools and hospitals takes care of the nation’s future for decades. A country that builds theatres looks centuries ahead…”

Located on the left bank of the Ishim River, the Astana Opera House is captivating in its magnificence. The architectural perfection of the theatre matches that of world-famous opera houses such as La Scala in Milan, the Theatro Royal in Madrid, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, etc.

The theatre covers an area of almost 9 hectares. The area of the building itself is 64 thousand square metres. Around 3,000 square metres of this is the stage area. The Astana Opera House impresses not only with its size, but also with its architectural elegance. It was built according to the best classical traditions of world architecture, with the Kazakh national colour coming through in the theatre’s architecture.

The main entrance of the theatre is decorated with the composition “The Mare and the Girl with Zhetygen” by sculptors M. Mansurov and T. Yermekov. The quadriga mounted on the theatre building is an image of Tomiris, the charioteer of the Queen of Sakan (author: Kanat Nurbaturov).

The lobby, foyer, auditorium and main stage are designed in the style of high classicism. The main auditorium of the theatre has 1250 seats.

The technical capabilities of the “Astana Opera” are in no way inferior and sometimes even surpass many theatres in the world. All the theatre’s premises, including ancillary spaces (backstage, various workshops, numerous rehearsal rooms) and everything that makes the theatre move and efficient, meet world standards.

Adjacent to the central stage are 2 side pockets and the back stage. The backdrops are set up in the large backstage space where they are pre-assembled. The size of the stage allows several prefabricated decorations to be placed at the same time. Thus, the machine allows the complete preparation of a theatrical performance (opera, ballet, play, concert, etc.) with up to three sets at the same time, without counting those already placed on the stage. The stage set is moved from one stage to the next with the help of rollators that allow for quick and easy changes. The orchestra pit can accommodate up to 120 musicians and can be used to enlarge the stage if necessary.

The theatre has a capacity of 250 people in the chamber hall. It is designed for chamber music concerts, various ensembles, chamber choir, small symphony orchestra and others. Leading specialists from Italy and Germany worked on the acoustics, and as a result, unique sound characteristics were achieved in all rooms of the theatre. Today, every effort is made to ensure that the creative content of the theatre is in no way inferior to the splendour of its architecture.

Today, the grandstand of the Astana Opera Theatre still hosts masterpieces of opera and ballet classics as well as modern productions by world-class masters.

On 21 June 2013, the theatre ceremoniously opened its first theatre season with a magnificent creation by M. Tulebayev – the opera “Birzhan-Sara”. In the autumn of the same year, the world premiere of the theatre “Astana Opera” took place in Astana, presenting the opera “Attila” by G. Verdi to the world public.

Places of interest

Astana - Palace of Independence

Astana - Palace of Independence

As the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana needs a building for official events and international meetings. The Palace of Independence in Astana was built for just such events. State congresses, various forums, meetings and gatherings at the highest level take place here.

The Palace of Independence in Astana can accommodate up to four thousand people at a time. It is designed in such a way that a whole range of events can be held here. Inside, there are not only rooms for meetings and presentations, but also galleries and a museum, a digital library and a model room, as well as two modern cinema halls, 4D and 360 degrees. The unique exhibits of antiquity are displayed in the halls of the palace: the Golden Man, the Sarmatian Warrior, the Berel Horses and the stones with mysterious inscriptions.

The largest hall is the Congress Hall, which can accommodate 3082 people at a time. On the third floor is the Astana City Museum, which reflects the entire history of the capital and contains various documents, gifts to the capital and testimonies of achievements. Welcome to Kazakhstan!

Places of interest
Nur Sultan (Astana) - Kazakhstan

Astana - Pyramid of Peace and Concord

Astana - Pyramid of Peace and Concord

Astana – Pyramid of Peace and Concord is one of the landmarks of the city of Astana. The pyramid has become a symbol of the unity of different religions, ethnicities and cultures as well as of the cosmopolitanism of the nation and the state. The idea to erect the “Pyramid of Peace and Concord” came from President Nursultan Nazarbayev and was presented by him at the first “Congress of World and Traditional National Religions”, which took place in Astana on 23 and 24 September 2003. The pyramid was completed in 2006 and the concert hall was inaugurated by Montserrat Caballé.

The building was designed by the internationally renowned architect Norman Foster especially for the “Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions”. Its uniqueness lies not only in the purpose for which it was built, but also in the principle of the “Golden Fibonacci Ratio” according to which the pyramid was built. At the base there is a square with a side length of 62 metres, the height is also 62 metres.

The pyramid itself symbolises the three main concepts of many religions – the underworld, which is in dark colours; the middle part of the pyramid symbolises peace and is in white; the sky is the glass top of the pyramid.

The Pyramid of Peace and Concord is undoubtedly one of the landmarks of the capital Astana. The pyramid has become a symbol of the unity of the different religions and cultures, of the cosmopolitanism of the people and the state. The Pyramid of Peace and Concord has well-equipped conference halls and exhibition rooms, art galleries, presentation complexes and much more.

The internal layout of the pyramid is interesting. The building is divided into five floors. On the ground floor there is a concert and opera hall with 1500 seats. It can accommodate various international congresses and conferences, different stage events, concerts, opera and ballet performances. The acoustics of the hall are unique and one has the feeling of being immersed in the atmosphere of an ancient Greek amphitheatre.

The largest hall, the Cheops Atrium, has an area of over 2,000 m² and houses an impressively large exhibition entitled “The Master Plan of Astana 2030”.

The Cradle Hall, where the world-famous conference of the leaders of the world’s religions took place, is located on the fifth floor of the Pyramid of Peace and Concord. Around the hall is the “Winter Garden”, where one can admire the diversity of vegetation from all over the world. The pyramid is crowned by a large glass dome with pictures of 130 doves symbolising the peoples of Kazakhstan. At night, the dome glows and, like a beacon, points the way to the symbol of the unity of the different religions, cultures and nations.

Remarkable are the lifts that lead not only upwards but also diagonally to the top of the pyramid.

Places of interest
Mauntains in Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek - Ala Archa Gorge

Bishkek - Ala Archa Gorge

The Ala-Archa Gorge is one of the most famous sights in Kyrgyzstan. The Ala-Archa Gorge is located not far from Bishkek, in the Chui region, and is a national park. Every year the gorge attracts thousands of tourists, both locals and foreigners. There are several reasons for its popularity. Firstly, Ala-Archa Gorge is only 30 km away from Bishkek; therefore, it is very easy to reach and has all the necessary infrastructures: a well-paved road, shops, hotels, cafés and places to rest amidst the picturesque nature.

Secondly, the Ala-Archa Gorge has its geographical peculiarities – it is located in the central and highest part of the Kyrgyz mountain ridge, the second longest mountain range of the Tien Shan. Therefore, the mountains rise as high as possible above the plain and numerous trails to the highest peaks of the Kyrgyz mountain range start here.

Ala-Archa is famous for its untouched nature: extensive spruce forests, birch groves, numerous springs with pure glacial water and mighty rocks.

Places of interest
Bischkek - Ala Too Platz

Bishkek - Ala Too Square

Bishkek - Ala Too Square

Ala-Too Square is the central square of Bishkek and the country’s main square. It is home to the White House, the State Historical Museum, a flagpole with the national flag, a monument to the victims of the 7 April revolution, a statue of Chingiz Aitmatov and a statue of Manas, the hero of the Kyrgyz folk epic.

The name of the square derives from the mountains of the central and western Tien Shan, which the nomadic Kyrgyz tribes called Ala-Too – translated “the colourful mountains”. The entire square, including the building of the History Museum, which was designed as the Lenin Museum, forms a unified architectural ensemble. A characteristic feature of the square is the marble and granite cladding of the buildings. Ala-Too Square was laid out relatively recently – in 1984 – and is crossed by several Bishkek streets: Chui Avenue and Kievskaya Street.

In the centre of the square is a statue of Manas the Gracious, erected in 2012. Previously, the Statue of Liberty, erected in 2003, stood on this spot, while the statue of Lenin, now located behind the Historical Museum, stood in the city’s Old Square.

Very close to the Manas Monument is a 45-metre flagpole with the national flag of the Kyrgyz Republic. Every day, a guard of honour is on duty near the flag, changing every few hours.

The main building of the square is of course the historical museum, which has a characteristic cube shape. The large square in front of the museum has fountains and flowerbeds.

The second part of the square opposite the museum has numerous fountains, including a large fountain of light and music in the middle, as well as many benches and flower beds.

In the southernmost part of the square is a statue of the great Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov.

Places of interest
Burana Tower - Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek - Burana Tower

Bishkek - Burana Tower

The Burana Tower, not far from Bishkek, is an important monument to the ancient culture of the Khui Valley and the famous Great Silk Road that runs through it. The tower, once the tallest minaret in Central Asia, was the centre of the capital of the Karakhanid state, the city of Balasagun, which was located in this area in the 10th to 12th centuries. Originally it was 40 metres high, but during the earthquake the upper part of the tower collapsed, and since then the tower is only 21 metres high.

The Burana Tower is of great cultural significance for BIshkek and Kyrgyzstan, as it is the only surviving example of ancient architecture in the region that has been preserved to this extent. In addition to the tower, the entire area of the Burana settlement is also of great interest. On the site there are numerous burial mounds, remains of ancient fortifications and the so-called “Garden of Stones” – a collection of balbal (ancient stone gravestones) and stone tools (millstones, etc.).

The complex is located in a very picturesque area, near the Shams and Kegeti gorges, just south of Tokmok. A magnificent panorama of the eastern part of the Kyrgyz mountain range opens up from here, and in May and June you can see flowering poppy fields.

There is a museum on the grounds of the settlement where you can learn about the rich history of the place. There is a souvenir shop and places to rest. Entrance to the complex costs 60 som. The price includes a visit to the museum and the opportunity to climb the tower itself.

Places of interest

Bishkek - Oak Park

Bishkek - Oak Park

Oak Park or “Duboviy Park” (also Chyngyz-Aitmatov Park) is the oldest park in Bishkek and is located in the heart of the city. It is one of the most beautiful and idyllic places in the capital, and a trip to Bishkek would be incomplete without visiting it.

The history of the park began in the pre-revolutionary period, in 1890, when the Gardeners’ Club, led by botanist A.M.Fetisov, began planting trees around the former St. Nicholas Church, which now houses an art gallery. Incidentally, the gallery building, built in 1885 and located in the Oak Park (“Duboviy Park”) is considered one of the oldest buildings in Bishkek and is included in the list of historical and cultural monuments of national importance.

In 1914, the Edison Cinema, which no longer exists, was opened in the park, the first cinema in Kyrgyzstan.

In 1919, after the founding of the Soviet Union, the Red Army soldiers who defended the young Soviet state against the rebellious White Guards were buried in the park. Today, on their grave stands a monument erected in 1970 with cast-iron cannons and an eternal flame lit to commemorate the fallen of the Great Patriotic War.

The park is also home to the Chingis Aitmatov Theatre of Russian Drama. The building is an outstanding example of constructivist architecture.

Other attractions in the park include the 12-bowl fountain, an impressive open-air sculpture museum and a statue of Kyrgyz Queen Kurmanjan Datke.

Places of interest

Bishkek - Osh Bazaar

Bishkek - Osh Bazaar

The Osh Bazaar is one of the few places in Bishkek where you can experience the flair of an Asian bazaar. The Osh Bazaar is the largest market in Bishkek. It is located very close to the city centre, in the western part of the city. You can find everything you want: food, homemade, clothes, shoes, tourist equipment, books, tools, etc. The classic bazaar rows of Osh are full of fresh fruits and vegetables, reddish flat bread, snow-white kurut and much more. In the market’s meat hall, you can find fresh beef and pork common to Europeans as well as traditional Kyrgyz horse, mutton and even yak meat, and special Kyrgyz delicacies like chuchuk.

Tourists might also be interested in the “tourist row”, where they can buy a souvenir of Kyrgyzstan. Traditional Kyrgyz felt products, national clothing and various utensils, T-shirts with prints dedicated to Kyrgyzstan, national musical instruments and various rare things, leftovers from the Soviet era, are sold here.

Places of interest
Abdulla Khan Medrese in Buchara

Bukhara - Abdulla Khan Madrasa

Bukhara - Abdulla Khan Madrasa

The Abdulla Khan Madrasa in Bukhara, built in 1588-90, is one of the most outstanding works of Central Asian architecture. The main entrance to this Madrasa is designed as a high portal. The dimension of the façade and the variety of decorative materials give it a colourful, festive appearance. Cold tones of majolica tiles (blue, greenish-blue, white) play well in bright sunlight.

The Abdulla Khan Madrasa in Bukhara is located opposite Madari Khan Madrasa and forms with it a single architectural ensemble called Kosh Madrasa. In Central Asian architecture, the building ensemble consisting of two facades facing each other is referred to as “kosh”. (twin, paired) and in relation to the two madrasas “twin madrasas”.

The school of Bukhara introduced local peculiarities into the traditional architecture of the Madrasa, the appearance of which is striking in the 15th century, when comparing the first preserved Madrasas in Central Asia, built by Ulugbek in Bukhara, Gijduvan and Samarkand. Ulugbek’s Madrasa in Samarkand had beautiful facades and tall thin two-tier minarets at the corners of the building. The basic principle of the ground plan remained unchanged – the rooms were arranged around the courtyard. In Bukhara the main façade is opened by arched loggias, while in the corners of the building there are stocky towers – guldasta, cut at the height of the side wings. The Bukhara madrassas also differed in their design features.

The doors of the Madrasas are made with great skill from individual pieces of wood with the finest carving without a single nail.

The floor plan of the Madrasa has a number of features that show that the architects tried to use the inner space as rationally as possible, including as many rooms as possible. Opposite the main façade is a group of hujras (a small living room for pupils/students) and behind it, to the right and left of the entrance hall, are the mosque and the darskhana. An interesting feature is the location of the mosque; its ground plan is slightly rotated in relation to the main axes of the madrasa, but not towards the Qibla (i.e. towards Mecca), but strictly on the sides of the world.

Places of interest

Bukhara - Bahauddin Naqshbandi Complex

Bukhara - Bahauddin Naqshbandi Complex

The Bahauddin Naqshbandi Complex is located on the outskirts of Bukhara, in the village of Kasri-Orifon. The monument complex at the saint’s tomb was rebuilt several times, as each ruler of Bukhara considered it his duty to make his own additions.

The preserved ensemble of Bahauddin’s tomb includes a majestic khanaka – a Sufi dwelling built by Khan Abdulaziz in 1545. The large mosque with two aivans, one of which surmounts the minaret, was built in the mid-18th century for Khan Abulfeyz’s mother.

The Bahauddin Naqshbandi Complex in Bukhara took the typical XVIth century form of combining a necropolis with a ceremonial building. In 1544, the Sheikh of Abdulazizkhan I was buried in the form of a floor vault – dakhma with a marble carved fence on top.

The mother of the ruler Abulfeyz-khan (1711-1747) had a mosque with two aivans (terraces) built from her own funds, and in the XIX century the vizier of Nasrulla-khan Hakim Kushbegi had another mosque built.

The minaret (tower) was built in 1720. During the Soviet period, this sanctuary was in a state of devastation. The other mosque, located in the inner part of the necropolis courtyard, was built almost a century later by Hakim Kushbegi.

Interesting events are connected with the construction of the road from Bukhara to the sacred necropolis. The story of its construction is presented in the biography of the Bukhara emirs as follows: “Emir Nasrulla-khan Bokhadur was in the city of Karshi before the death of his father Kushbegi”.

In 1826, the blessed Emir Haydar died and the throne of Bukhara was inherited by Prince Hussein, who ruled from 6 October to 19 December of the same year and was then poisoned by his brother Omar-khan, Omar-khan also ruled Bukhara only briefly – for four months.

Emir Nasrullah, having gathered an army and enlisted the support of Hakim Kushbegi, undertook a campaign to Bukhara to punish the fratricide. A few days before his accession, Emir Nasrullah left his army near Faiziabad and visited the tomb of the holy Sheikh Bahauddin, where he vowed: “If I become Emir, I will make a weekly hajj on foot from Bukhara to the tomb of the holy Sheikh”. On 24 April 1827, Nasrullah Khan Bokhadur ascended the throne.

As he had promised, he made his first hajj to the Mazar of Bahauddin. The young emir ordered the road to be paved from the gates of noble Bukhara to the sacred mazar of Sheikh Bahauddin.

His order was soon carried out. The last Emir of Bukhara, Sayyid Mir Alimkhan, continued the traditions of his predecessors and built several public buildings near the necropolis, including a large guesthouse and a large bathhouse.

The Bahauddin Naqshbandi complex in Bukhara was built permanently. Here, in the complex, there are also two holy wells. To Sheikh Bahauddin, whose full name is Sayyid Muhammad Bahauddin Naqshbandi ibn Sayyid Jalaliddin, thousands of pilgrims, tourists and Muslim believers travel and wander at all times.

A pilgrimage to this holy place three times is equivalent to a Hajj to Mecca. Sheikh Bahauddin’s name was the most revered in these parts after that of Prophet Muhammad.

Whenever a believer wished for good fortune, he would pray to Sheikh Bahauddin and invoke the magic words “Ya Bahauddini bola gardon” as a spell to ward off trouble. (“O Bahauddin, saviour from trouble”).

According to the believers, it helped them to protect themselves from the unclean. People invoke Bahauddin’s holiness when they want to protect themselves from corruption and disease or ask for blessings on the way.

And so it happened that whoever asked the saint for intercession or help always got it. The mausoleum is considered one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Muslims, as three pilgrimages to the mausoleum of Bahauddin Naqshbandi are equivalent to one pilgrimage to Mecca.

An interesting attraction of the complex is the Naqshbandi’s staff. According to legend, the Sheikh stuck his staff into the ground and it began to grow and eventually became a tree.

In its niches lie the donations of the pilgrims. It is believed that after asking the sheikh to intercede in any noble deeds, one should go under the staff. After Uzbekistan’s independence, the shrine was restored in honour of Bahauddin Naqshband’s 675th birthday in 1993.

The darvazakhana (entrance hall) was built with a high dome. The magnificently decorated Aivans – terraces were replicated. An extensive garden connected the sacred tomb of Hazrat Bahauddin and the tomb of his mother in a single composition.

Dakhmai Shohon (Necropolis of Rulers) was also restored, where the remains of some rulers from the Temurid, Shaibanid, Ashtarkhanid and Mangyte dynasties are buried.

Places of interest
Baland Moschee in Buchara

Bukhara - Baland Mosque

Bukhara - Baland Mosque

The Baland Mosque is a typical manifestation of innovation in the architecture of Bukhara at the end of the Navoi era and in the first decades of the Uzbek Khanate. The name Baland Mosque owes its fame to its location on the high stone foundation.

South of the city park and the Kosh Medrese, in the depth of Bukhara’s residential buildings, is the historic mosque called Baland (“High”). This mosque of the rich Bukhara district is more than five hundred years old.

The oldest part of it is a rectangular winter building. It is enclosed by an L-shaped pillared aivan, which serves as a summer mosque. The wooden columns with stalactite capitals on marble bases and aivan ceiling were made in the XIX century, replacing the earlier structures.

The suspended ceiling of the Baland Mosque is unique, decorated with geometric ornaments and domes carved from wood. The small inner hall of the structure has a richly decorated mihrab and a wooden pulpit – minbar. The mihrab and wall panels are covered with carved Kashin mosaic in blue-green shades.

The walls of the mosque are covered with multi-coloured painting in kundal technique with abundant gilding. The floral and vegetative ornamentation gives this painting the impression of wall “carpets”.

A special spiritual atmosphere is created by the Arabic inscriptions in complicated Sülüs script.

Cubic volume with flat suspended ceiling and Aivan on the carved wooden columns is a typical example of the Guzar mosques in the neighbourhood. The colourful splendour of the mosque is concentrated in its interior, in the decoration of the ceiling and walls.

The dominance of the surfaces is compensated here by classically found proportions of the parts: a panel, above it large and small panels, then a frieze. The panel of the Baland Mosque consists of a series of rectangular frames, each filled with a mosaic pattern.

The central part of the wall is decorated with a lancet-shaped panel filled with a floral pattern, then a narrow inscription panel above the frame, then a moulded cord above the frame – they alternate with each other and vary in shape and pattern.

The ceiling is of wood, intricately carved, with a dripstone recess in the centre of the star-shaped figure. The hexagonal tiles of the panels are decorated with ornamental painting in gold.

In the Baland Mosque, the means of pictorial decoration of the walls are developed with extraordinary brilliance in Bukhara.

It is not surprising that in the architecture of later times, architects repeatedly turned to the interior of the mosque as a model and worthy example.

Places of interest
Bolo Havuz Moschee in Buchara

Bukhara - Bolo Havuz Complex

Bukhara - Bolo Havuz Complex

The largest cities in the Orient had one striking feature in common and that was the mandatory existence of Registan. This was the name of the central city square where many public buildings were located. The city’s most important mosques, large palaces and minarets were located here, as well as hospitals, chambers of commerce and the state chancellery.

Bukhara also had its own registan, located opposite the fortress called Ark. Unfortunately, of all the buildings in this huge square in Bukhara, only the Bolo Havuz complex has survived to this day. It was built at the beginning of the XVII century by order of Emir Shakhmurad, who was the ruler of Bukhara at that time. Emir wanted to prove to the inhabitants of the city that he was a normal man. Therefore, he wanted to build a public mosque on the Registan, which he personally intended to visit every Friday.

The name of the complex translates into English as “children’s pool”. It is related to the fact that the Bolo Havuz was used as a water source. Practically everywhere in Central Asia there were problems with the availability of drinking water. For this reason, it was necessary to build artificial water reservoirs (havuze) that could supply all inhabitants with life-giving water. Water carriers fetched the water from the reservoirs and distributed it at the bazaar, hospitals and residential areas for a fee.

This tradition of water distribution continued in Bolo Havuz complex in Bukhara until the Soviet Union came to power. The new state power forbade the population to use the artificial water reservoir in order to avoid mass diseases caused by stagnant water. But the population continued to use this water out of old habit, so the water reservoir had to be drained.

The mosque has managed to survive to this day and still receives visitors for Friday prayers. The building itself still has a graceful and luxurious appearance (remember, it was built for the ruler), making it one of the most popular sights in modern Bukhara. The building has been decorated for over three centuries with twenty wooden columns with intricate carvings that confidently support the ceiling of the mosque. The city’s residents call Bolo-Havuz by no other name than “the mosque of forty pillars”. The complex got this name because of the twenty pillars and their reflection in the pond.

Near the mosque is a minaret that was built a little later. It is built in an elegant style and combines the luxury and grandeur of Asia. For a long time, the minaret was slightly inclined, gradually increasing the degree of inclination. Many people compared it to the famous Pisa Tower in Italy. After reconstruction, however, the building was thoroughly strengthened and raised to a steep angle.

Places of interest
Ark in Bukhara

Bukhara - Citadel Ark

Bukhara - Citadel Ark

In the centre of Bukhara there is a bulwark of the last emirs – the citadel Ark. The archaeological remains of the beginning of our era, when several settlements already existed on Bukhara, are much deeper than its present location.

High brick walls with a serrated end hide a huge hill – this is where the city of Bukhara appeared in ancient times, more than two thousand years ago. This is its fortress, the Ark Citadel.

Over the centuries its height gradually increased as new buildings were erected in place of dilapidated ones. According to legend, the tomb of Siyavush, the legendary founder of the city, was located here.

Queen Hutak Khatun lived and reigned here in the 7th century A.D. She defended Bukhara from the Arabs for several years with cunning and diplomacy. The medieval historian Narshakhi wrote about these events: “Allah instilled fear in the hearts of the infidels and they left without accepting the fight”.

Remains of former forts and palaces are hidden in the archaeological deposits of Ark. In the later Middle Ages Bukhara emirs lived here. Next to the gate there was a whip (“Kamchin”) as an impressive reminder of the emir’s power.

Only a few buildings of the former mighty Ark have survived. On the upper terrace of Nagorakhan flour was collected around the clock. Trophy clocks – chimes (made in the XIX century by the captured Italian Orlando) rang every hour on the bell tower and five times a day appeared on the tower of Azanchi (the person calling for prayer), announcing the beginning of the prayer.

During Ramazan or Kurban and other festive events, an orchestra played with four unique changes of curtain and dress of the musicians: light, yellow, fire red and black.

The square in front of the entrance to the citadel Ark – Registan, was the main arena of all events in the city and the religious centre of Bukhara. The Ark Citadel is the result of the efforts of thousands of slaves who many centuries ago, under the bright sun, created an artificial hill by hand and without equipment.

In order to present the scale of this gigantic work, we, the people of our era, must forget modern technology and exclude even such means of transport as Arava. This mighty fortress rises above Registan Square as a symbol of greatness, power and insurmountability.

This is the goal pursued by those in power. And yet the impression was deceptive. For a very long time, the citadel has not held Ark steadfast. Repeatedly it has been built and destroyed.

The age of the Ark Citadel is not exactly determined, but at least one and a half thousand years ago, this majestic fortress was already the seat of the ruler of a vast and densely populated country.

For many centuries Ark remained the main residence of the Emir of Bukhara, the place from which the supreme command of the country was exercised. Here, in a mighty fortified citadel, lived not only the emir but also the chief vizier, the military leaders, the emir’s most numerous servants.

The Ark Citadel is a living witness to the rich history of the city. When Genghis Khan’s warriors conquered Bukhara in 1220, the city’s inhabitants locked themselves in the Ark and Genghis Khan’s warriors invaded the Ark, killing the defenders, plundering values and destroying the fortress.
Repeatedly, riots broke out in the city and then Ark became the epitome of cruel tyranny, cobblestones flew outside its gates, as they did in 1708 during the uprising associated with the abolition of currency reform.

Here in Ark Citadel, apart from the rulers cursed by the people, great scientists, poets and philosophers lived and worked. In the Middle Ages, when the culture of Bukhara reached its peak, Rudaki, Firdousi, Abu Ali ibn Sina, Farabi and later Omar Khayyam worked here.

Ark is a large above ground complex. From the ground plan it resembles an irregular rectangle, which extends slightly from west to east. Its southeast corner is slightly cut.

It is located in the middle of the western part of the modern city. The length of the walls is 789.60 m, the area is 3.96 ha. The height from the level of Registan Square, in the vicinity of which it is located, varies between 16 and 20 metres.

The front entrance to the Citadel Ark is architecturally designed in the form of two pier towers. The upper part of the tower is connected to the gallery, above which there is a room with terraces.

The entrance to the gate (tahkul) is a ramp or gradually ascending path that leads through a long covered corridor to the Jami Mosque. The ramp is fenced in on both sides with a massive stone railing, its length is about 20 metres.

On one of the walls of the Ark Citadel there was a large leather whip (a symbol of the emir’s power). A long dark corridor starts from the gate of the Citadel Ark, along which are the rooms for water and sand, the cells for prisoners.

It is known from historical materials and from the accounts of eyewitnesses what sophisticated tortures the emir used to subjugate his subjects. In the citadel Ark itself there is a large complex of buildings.

The eastern half of the arch is now an archaeological monument. The Childukhtaron Mosque, with which the legend of forty tortured girls thrown into the well is connected, has been preserved here.

From the height of the Ark Citadel there is a breathtakingly unique panorama of the ancient part of Bukhara. The restorers in Bukhara call the Bukhara Citadel Ark a textbook for builders. Extensive restoration work is currently underway in the Citadel Ark.

The walls on the side of Registan Square and many rooms inside the citadel have been restored.

Places of interest
Buchara - Fayzobod Chanaqah

Bukhara - Faizabad Khanaka

Bukhara - Faizabad Khanaka

In the north-east of Bukhara, near the walls of the historic city, is the Faizabad Khanaka. The Faizabad Khanaka is not one of the most popular sights in Bukhara. Due to its remoteness from the historical centre of the city, few tourists visit the Muslim house of prayer. Nevertheless, there is a lot to discover here.

The religious building was constructed in the 16th century. Burnt brick was used as the basic material. The construction work was carried out from 1598 to 1599. It was led by the initiator of the idea and Sufi follower Mavlon Poyanda-Muhammad Ahsi (Ahsiketi) Fayzabadi. Unfortunately, the Sufi did not enjoy the result for long – he died two years after the construction was completed. After his death, it was decided to rename the Khanaka as well. Thus, “Shokhi Akhsi” became the prayer house “Faizabad Khanaka”.

The transformation only affected the name. The former functions of the building structure remained unchanged. As before, Muslims gathered in Faizabad Khanaka for Friday prayers. This is testified by the niche (mihrab) in one of the walls of the room, which points towards Mecca. The importance of the religious building in the lives of Muslims was not limited to this function.

Faizabad Khanaka also served as a kind of Sufi retreat. Dervishes (the Muslim equivalent of a monk) who were passing through often stayed here. Part of the building was specifically designated for their stay as a chanaqa (Sufi retreat).

The Faizabad Khanaka in Bukhara is a typical example of 16th century architecture with sharp proportions and symmetry. The building has been restored more than once, but its identity and uniqueness have not suffered in any way.

The first thing that catches the eye is a tall portal framing the central entrance of the building. The portal rises above the entire building and has the shape of a vertical rectangle with an incised arched niche. Beautiful and majestic, it is also built according to all the architectural rules of the time.

On each side of the portal are the arched galleries, which give the building an elegant appearance. The richly decorated façade of the building serves as a harmonious complement. As for the main dome of the mosque, it appears modest and plain. But this is only the case at first glance. As you move inside the building, you will realise how mistaken you are. The dome is generously decorated with white ganch patterns, the technique being called “chaspak”. It makes the dome appear weightless.

Two colours predominate in the interior of the mosque – blue and white. Gold and brown are used as additional colours. You can notice them when you look at the mihrab in detail.

Places of interest
Gaukushon Ensemble in Bukhara

Bukhara - Hodja Gaukushon Ensemble

Bukhara - Hodja Gaukushon Ensemble

In the historical centre of Bukhara there is the architectural Hodja Gaukushon Ensemble, whose construction dates back to the XVI century. The name of this ensemble is quite interesting: “Gaukuschon” literally means “bull murderer”. It can be explained by the fact that in the past there was a huge market with a slaughterhouse. This large area was already used as a trading place in the past. Under the new rulers of the Shaibanid dynasty in the XVI century, the rapid development of Bukhara began and the construction of many unique architectural structures, which have survived to this day. Under the Shaibanids, the construction of new religious buildings began on Gaukushon Square – a large madrasah and a Jome Mosque with a high minaret appeared here.

The idea for the foundation of this ensemble came from Sheikh Hodja Saad of the revered Juibar family. He provided funds for the construction of large and important buildings and became the main supporter of the project. His name was subsequently added to the name of the mosque and the entire complex as a sign of respect and gratitude. The Sheikh was also called “Hodja Kalon”, which means “Great Hodja”, so the structures of the complex are sometimes called “Hodja Kalon”. The Sheikh of Hodja Saad himself was buried in the tomb of Chor-Bakr together with all the members of his family dynasty.

The large architectural Hodja Gaukushon Ensemble in Bukhara, together with other buildings of the historical part of Bukhara, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Now there are souvenir shops with goods for tourists near the Medrese and there is a restaurant near the square. Travellers who have visited the complex notice that some parts of the buildings look a bit neglected despite the restoration works that have been carried out.

Hodja Gaukushon Ensemble in Bukhara consists of a madrasah of astonishing beauty and a Djomé Mosque (Cathedral) with an impressive minaret, which in height is only inferior to the famous minaret of Kalon, one even believes that the minaret of Hodja Gaukushon Ensemble in Bukhara is a scaled-down copy. The decoration used for the decoration of the Hodja Gaukuschon complex is a two-colour Ganch decor.

The madrasah is a Muslim educational institution whose graduates can enter higher education institutions. On the Gaukuschon square a building was erected according to a traditional court scheme in a typical oriental style. The madrasah is a two-storey building with vaulted Hudschras. The building itself has the shape of a correct trapezium, as it was located at the crossing of several streets. It was built in the middle of the second half of the XVI century – 1570 under the ruler Abdullah Khan II from the dynasty of the Shaibanids. Here students studied the history of Islam, Arabic, Sharia and the Koran.

Almost thirty years later, in 1598, a mosque called “Masjid Djome Hodja” was built on the square north of the Gaukushan madrasah. The Hodja Mosque was a Djome Mosque (Cathedral Mosque), also known as “Djuma Mosque” or “Friday Mosque”. In other words, there was Namaz, the collective midday prayer of the faithful of the Muslim community, which takes place on Fridays. The mosque could accommodate several thousand people. Most of the believers were housed in a courtyard with vaulted galleries under domes supported by brick pillars. The main building, the maxura, is located in front of the mihrab, a niche in the wall facing Mecca.

Between the mihrab and the mosque there is a minaret reflected in the water of the house, a hydro-technical structure of the artificial reservoir type, which serves as a drinking water reservoir. Travellers write that the water reservoir is kept in a clean and good condition, it is pleasant to sit and rest after the walk. The minaret is made of baked bricks and has a conical shape. The foundation consists of stone with bundles of wood around it. Inside, a spiral staircase leads to a rotunda lantern with a dripstone cornice. The minaret has 12 window openings.

Places of interest
Hoja Zaynuddin

Bukhara - Hodja Zaynuddin Complex

Bukhara - Hodja Zaynuddin Complex

The Hodja Zaynuddin complex in Bukhara was built before 1555. Here one can become familiar with the regional content of cultural-monumental and public urban construction, taking into account the interests of the architectural design of the street and the neighbourhood.

The two sides of the central domed building of the mosque are designed according to their location to the residential area, with which they are connected by a shaded aiwan (the most important part of a palace, i.e. the audience hall) and a large water basin made of stone slabs, which provided drinking water for the residents of the neighbourhood and visitors to the mosque.

In the southeast corner at the stepped exit to the water was a marble carved spillway in the shape of the open mouth of the dragon – Azhdar, decorated with ornaments and epigraphy.

The type of cult buildings to which the Hodja Zaynuddin Khanaqa Mosque belongs are called mosque-khanaqa.

A characteristic feature of the Mosque-Khanaqa is the central building with a dome, which was used by the Sufis for their religious ceremonies with choral singing accompanied by musical instruments.

The fusion of mosque and Khanaqa, which actually symbolised the fusion of classical Islam and Sufism, is widely observed in the late medieval period. The mosque-khanaqa complexes often had several premises that allowed combining different functions (mosque proper, khanaqa, partial madrasah, mazar (tomb), etc).

One of the attractions of the complex is a venerated tomb (mazar), called “Khodja Turk”, located in one of the outer niches of the mosque, which has the shape of a tomb with two upstanding rods (tugh).

The design of this tomb foreshadows the classical tradition of the Qur’an, according to which even the rulers were not buried in luxurious mausoleums but modestly in the open air, in a khazir courtyard with a brick wall and a portal entrance.

Within it, burial was arranged in a saghana, an arch-shaped sarcophagus, or in a dakhma, a rectangular stone-lined burial platform. Mausoleums were built mainly under the Temurids.

The construction of mausoleums was banned during the Shaybanid period and they only began to be built again from the turn of the XVII-XVIII centuries. The southern façade of the building consists of a deep niche, a kind of open portico, as if to welcome the faithful and draw them through shady corridors into the shadow of the mosque.

Nothing here was reminiscent of everyday life, for the fairytale wealth and luxury of the mosque stood in stark contrast to the poverty and deprivation of the people who sought solace in religion.

The drawing (now reddish and blue, formerly gilded or over a gold background) only slightly conveys the extraordinary effect achieved in the past through the use of the kundal technique.

But even now, the colour palette of sky-blue and orange-red tones of the interior of the Hodja Zaynuddin complex in Bukhara makes a strong impression. Excellent and mosaic-like panel of the mosque, divided into separate rectangular fields, filled with geometric figures, ornate cartouches and elegant arches with rich colour pattern.

Adjacent to the main dome of the mosque on either side are aiwans, whose architectural design is deeply traditional and dates back to the earliest examples of vernacular architecture of the feudal era.

Places of interest
Samani Mausoleum in Bukhara

Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum

Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum

The Mausoleum of Ismail Samani, located opposite the Ark in Bukhara, in the depths of the Central Cultural and Leisure Park, is world famous. This unique construction attracts the attention of scholars from all over the world.

The unique structure is also studied by architects and historians and painted from it by artists. Anyone interested in the historical past of the Central Asian peoples inevitably appeals to them.

The monument bears witness to the great development of building techniques and the high level of architecture. During this period, high-quality toasted bricks and alabaster mortar are used in construction.

The construction of Ismail Samani Mausoleum in Bukhara was preceded by the development of mathematical knowledge, especially geometry, which equipped the most experienced and skilled builders with methods of preliminary design of buildings and calculation of their proportions based on mathematical relations.

This gave rise to the delightful harmony of the whole and its parts that we can observe in the Ismail Samani Mausoleum in Bukhara. The mausoleum is a kind of central building, which is a cube with slightly inclined surfaces and a hemispherical dome.

Characteristic of the mausoleum is a design that connects the dome with the squares of the walls. This design determined to a great extent the internal and external appearance of the building.

The building of the mausoleum was to be strong, although it fulfilled the task of the lightest construction. On the massive, 1.8 m thick walls, the square room walls were provided with relatively thin arches – four arches on the walls and four corners.

The thick walls prevented the structure from collapsing for a millennium. On the top of the building, behind the arches, there is a light-filled gallery that opens to the outside with an arcade of small lancet windows.

This makes the structure light and resistant and creates a kind of illumination inside the mausoleum. All four façades of the Ismail Samani Mausoleum are the same. The centre of each side is intersected by a large lancet arch, and the corners are flanked by massive three-quarter brick columns.

The interior and exterior walls of the building are treated with patterned brickwork, creating a rich light-shadow texture on the walls that adds a certain brightness to the building.

The Ismail Samani Mausoleum in Bukhara, built at the turn of the IXth and Xth centuries, was dedicated to the Legion of the Holy Spirit. According to legend, it was built by Ismail Samani – the actual founder of the Samanid state, who conquered Bukhara in 874 and made it his capital – for his father Amad ibn Asad.

Later, the mausoleum became the family tomb of the Samanids: Ismail himself was buried there and then, according to the inscriptions above the entrance, Ismail’s grandson. The time of construction of the Ismail Samani Mausoleum is between 892 and 943 years.

The building has been well preserved until our time and is in excellent condition. The mausoleum is rightly considered one of the most perfect works of world architecture.

The mausoleum’s purpose as a tomb led to the creation of a square single-chamber space with a three-tiered interior structure: a quadruple, an octagon and a domed shell.

It is necessary to believe that at the time of the construction of the mausoleum, such an interpretation of the interior of the domed building was a long way of development and became a tradition.

The arrangement of the light openings of the gallery of the Samanid Mausoleum is of particular interest to us: the relatively high position of the light openings, their tiny size reminiscent of loopholes, the presence of sloping window sills and strip-like window niches outside the building.

Places of interest
Kalon Minor - Bukhara, Legende vom Minarett Kalon, Legend of Kalon Minaret, Légende du Minaret Kalon, Легенда о Минарете Калон

Bukhara - Kalon Minaret

Bukhara - Kalon Minaret

For over eight centuries, the Kalon Minaret has been rising above the ancient Bukhara, without which the architectural appearance of the city is difficult to imagine. The minaret largely determines the silhouette of the city. This is quite understandable, because it can be seen from far away, no matter from which side we approach Bukhara.

The Kalon Minaret (“Great Minaret”) became the main symbol of St. Bukhara. For a thousand years this sacred tower has dominated Bukhara and proclaimed the greatness of the Islamic faith.

At the foot of the minaret there is the central ensemble of Bukhara – Poi-Kalon (“At the foot of the Great “), which includes the Kalon Mosque (XV – XVI centuries), the Miri-Arab Madrasah (XVI century) and the Amir-Alim-Khan Madrasah (early XX century).

The Kalon minaret replaced the first minaret of Bukhara, which according to the information of al-Narshahi was built in 918 – 919 and dismantled in the 1120s by order of the Karakhanids Arslan-Khan. Many legends are connected with the minaret of Arslan-Khan, the top of which is said to be on the plain of Samarkand.

The creator of the architectural masterpiece, “the pearl of the medieval east”, is the Ustod (master) Baqi. His name is linked to a wonderful legend about a certain architect who did not spare his life to preserve the secret of minaret construction and pass it on to his students.

At the same time, the Poi-Kalon ensemble is one of the most important central squares between the main gardens of Kalon Jome Mosque (the Mosque Cathedral) and the Miri-Arab Madrasah. On the third side, the view of the square is enclosed by a minaret and a vaulted library hall.

The Kalon minaret was built in 1127 by the Karakhanids Arslan-Khan, after the old minaret, which was near the walls of the citadel, was buried and the mosque of the cathedral was moved to the city limits.

The new minaret was built entirely of fired bricks with a fine bond. It has the shape of a 45.5 metre high round tower with a diameter of 9 metres at the base and 6 metres at the top.

The surface of the minaret is decorated with 12 strips of geometric ornaments, one part of which contains Kufi scriptures. The minaret shows the year of construction – 1127 and the name of the architect – Baqi.

According to the legend, Baqi, after laying the foundations of the minaret, suddenly “disappeared” and only reappeared when the solution hardened. He feared that the Khan would rush the construction and it would lead to the collapse of the minaret, as happened in 1121.

Inside the tower there is a spiral staircase with 104 steps, at the top there is a lantern with 16 arches decorated with stalactites. In the past, the upper part of the minaret was located above the lantern, after its loss a modern superstructure was built here.

The upper part of the Kalon minaret was damaged during the artillery fire and aerial bombardment of Bukhara by the Red Army in 1920 and was restored as a result of restoration works.

The Kalon Minaret has another name – “Tower of Death”, which is connected with the fact that it was a place of execution – from its upper platform people were thrown to their death.

The Kalon Minaret was given an original shape, which was later repeatedly imitated. Above the lantern there was probably a second limb of which only the base of the central pivot remained.

The Kalon Minaret is strict, majestic and well-balanced in its monumental, multiple heavy forms. At the same time, it is clearly arranged and filigree in every detail. Its proportions and divisions withstood all earthquakes that destroyed more than one high-rise building in Uzbekistan.

The secret of its stability lies in the empirically correct proportions of its parts, in the construction of its foundations and in the high quality of its masonry. The Kalon Minaret is connected by a bridge to the roof of the Kalon Jome Mosque (the mosque cathedral), from where you can enter the interior of the minaret and climb up a narrow and steep brick spiral staircase with 105 steps to the rotunda.

From the rotunda of the minaret one has a magnificent view of Bukhara, the remains of its walls.

Places of interest
Kalon Minor - Bukhara, Legende vom Minarett Kalon, Legend of Kalon Minaret, Légende du Minaret Kalon, Легенда о Минарете Калон

Bukhara - Kalon Mosque

Bukhara - Kalon Mosque

The religious building has existed for more than 500 years and has always been called the main mosque of Bukhara. It is a jome mosque (cathedral) or Friday mosque (juma mosque), which means that it is the place of common prayer of the devout Muslims at noon on Friday, when the general namaz is performed. The Kalon Mosque in Bukhara is very spacious and can receive up to 12 thousand people at a time who come for solemn prayer.

Situated at the foot of the Kalon minaret is the monumental architectural ensemble – the Kalon Mosque and the Mir-Arab Madrassah. Together with the small square that lies between them, they form a single complex called Poi Minar, i.e. “at the foot of the minaret”.

Behind the Mir-Arab Madrassah, at the Zargaron bazaar dome, at an ancient crossroads of Shahristan is an ensemble of the Ulugbek and Abdulaziz Khan madrasas, and to the south are two more bazaar domes – Toki Telpak-Furushon and Toki Sarrofon.

To the north is the mighty Citadel Ark and next to it to the east is the Emir’s prison (zindan). The Kalon Mosque is one of the structures that make up the magnificent Kalon architectural ensemble.

The mosque itself is one of the unique structures of Bukhara and the story of its construction is one of the most interesting pages of the city’s solid chronicle.

For almost half a millennium, the mosque was a witness and participant in the life of the city. Thousands of worshippers gathered under its dome at prayer times.

The Kalon Mosque in Bukhara was built in 1514, at the time when Ubaydulla-Khan of the Shaibanid dynasty ruled. The mosque is considered one of the oldest and the second largest after Bibi-Hanum (Samarkand) in Central Asia. In the 16th century, Bukhara became the capital of the state and many important and grandiose buildings were constructed there. The Kalon Mosque was built on the site of the former main mosque of Bukhara, which was built by the Karakhanid dynasty in the 12th century and destroyed when Genghis Khan conquered the city. From this first mosque, the fragments of the lower part of the walls with figurative masonry have been preserved. There are opinions that the main mosque was located in another street before the XII century. Century and was moved here during the reconstruction of the centre of Bukhara.

The architecture of the religious building is traditional for the Temurid period. It is a rectangular structure with four aivans. The mosque has 7 entrances and the main entrance is on the east side; this entrance group is decorated with a portal made of mosaic and Arabic lettering. A staircase leads to the inner courtyard. A large blue double dome is erected over the central hall, which is shaped like a cross. The outer dome is placed on top of the mosaic drum. On the two sides of the main building are the blue domes. On the western side is a mihrab (Mihrāb is the Islamic prayer niche in mosques indicating the direction of prayer), which indicates the direction to Mecca and is also decorated with mosaics. The rectangular courtyard is framed by galleries consisting of 288 domes. They are based on 208 columns. The building occupies an area of one hectare.

The Kalon Mosque is an open-air mosque – worshippers were accommodated both in the open courtyard and in the covered galleries. In the courtyard is the tomb of one of the first imams of the Kalon Mosque. At the beginning of the XX century, a pavilion with 8 facets was built above the tomb, which served as the pulpit of the mosque. Thanks to the good acoustic design of the room, thousands of worshippers could hear the prayers read from the pulpit.

There are magnificent vaulted galleries in the courtyard area. In the heat, it is especially pleasant to pass by there, as the galleries become very cool. In total, they are all crowned with 288 domes built on 208 columns.

The materials used for the construction are fired brick, stone and wood. The brick facades are decorated with light mosaic, white and blue glaze and Arabic lettering. The name of the master builder of the mosque – Bayazid al Purani – was found in the ornamentation of the façade. The walls inside the mosque are decorated with ornaments and Quranic verses in gold.

At the end of the twentieth century, the Kalon Mosque in Bukhara was restored and is in use today. Tourists are not allowed inside during Friday prayers, and on other days the entrance is closed after 20:00, when prayers begin.

Places of interest
Kukaldash Madrasa in Bukhara

Bukhara - Kukaldash Madrasah

Bukhara - Kukaldash Madrasah

One of the most famous monuments of Bukhara – the Kukaldash Madrasah – is located near the Labi-Hauz architectural complex. This educational institution was built between 1568 and 1569. This is the largest Madrasah in Bukhara and one of the largest similar educational institutions in Central Asia.

The name “Kukaldash” is very common. In Tashkent there is a Madrasah of the same name. The name means “sun friend” or “milk brother”.

The Kukaldash Madrasah in Bukhara has an architectural form and decoration that is completely atypical for the time. Most educational institutions in Bukhara were built schematically according to a model at that time. They were majestic buildings with a luxurious entrance group, surrounded on all sides by huge walls. When Kukaldash was built, this tradition was not respected. The walls around the construction are by no means empty, they have numerous niches and balconies with Ganche ornaments. There are a total of 160 cells on two floors and in the courtyard of the building.

The Madrasah was built during the reign of Abdullakhan II. The financing of this large building project was provided by Emir Kulbab. eser Emir was able to gain the respect and approval of all in his position as a state. This wisdom and diplomacy enabled Kulbab to receive one of the most honourable titles, the title of Kukaldash. Later a madrassa was named after him.

There are speculations that the Kukaldash Madrasah in Bukhara is one of the components of the Labi Havuz ensemble, but this statement is fundamentally wrong. After careful examination of all the buildings, archaeological experts have concluded that Kukaldash is an independent structure.

Kukaldash did not always serve as a Madrasah. Over the years, its purpose changed regularly. There was a moment in the history of the building when it was used as a caravanserai. The most famous and talented masters of the time were involved in the construction of the Madrasah. The Ganch arches are closely interwoven and together form a vault of overwhelming beauty and ornamentation. The gates to the Madrasah are decorated with mosaics that were applied without glue or nails. The front entrance group is decorated with geometrical ornaments.

The Madrasah has experienced many events, including a devastating earthquake. At that time the elements thoroughly destroyed the portal in front of the building, which was then simply fixed with metal brackets.

During the reign of Beklar begi, bricks were used to extend the upper floor of the building and the breathtakingly beautiful sky-blue domes. Nevertheless, the Madrasah has retained its appeal to this day thanks to talented craftsmen who willingly initiated its reconstruction.

Kukaldash is of great significance for modern history because one of the most famous Central Asian writers, Sadriddin Ayni, lived for a long time in one of the cells and created his great works. He died in the middle of the 20th century, but his work is immortal. He left his descendants a large number of important literary masterpieces and today the name of the writer is immortalised on the walls of the Kukaldash-Madrasah – a small monument has been erected inside the building and some of Sadriddin Ayni’s personal belongings and even some of his handwritten texts are on public display.

Places of interest
Labi Hovuz in Bukhara

Bukhara - Labi Havuz ensemble

Bukhara - Labi Havuz ensemble

Labi Havuz (on the pond) is the largest ensemble built in Bukhara in the XVII century. Three buildings of the Kukaldash madrasah (1568 – 1569), Khanaqa Nadir Divanbegi (1622) form the ensemble, in which Labi Havuz is the central organizational element.

The oldest part of this building complex is the Kulba-Kukaldash madrasah, which has 160 cells and is considered the largest in Bukhara. The rooms in the Kukaldash madrasah give an impression of narrowness, overcrowded corridors, stairs, stumbling blocks. The best that the architecture of this madrasah has preserved for us are the constructions and decorative ornaments of the two main halls of the mosque and the darskhana (study rooms), as well as the domed ceilings under the corridors leading from the gates of the madrasah to the courtyard. Particularly beautiful in the madrasah are the carved wooden doors with complex star patterns.

Otherwise it can serve as a model for extreme carelessness in the building trade and negligence of dignitaries who, competing with each other, build charitable institutions but save the maximum.

The Labi Havuz ensemble in Bukhara was finally formed after the construction of the Great Havuz and the Khanaqa (retreat). The banks of the basin (pond), cut into corners, were covered with large blocks of stone on whose ledges the Meshkabe – water carriers whose services were used by the people of Bukhara – went down to fetch water.

The water was used to irrigate the roads, for construction purposes and as drinking water. Picturesque centuries-old trees still stand around the pond today. Shortly after the construction of the water collection pond, a madrasah by Nadir Diwanbegi was built on the other side of the square.

It is interesting with its beautiful proportions of the facade and the remains of pictures of fallow deer, fantastic birds in the arches. The whole courtyard part of the madrasah is a small pattern. The architectural design of Labi Havuz is very attractive.

The inclusion of a huge water level, trimmed with a thick edge of greenery, in the complex of monumental buildings, whose actively connecting beginning is not a traditional square but a water basin, was a new word in the history of Central Asian art and the appeal of this technique under the conditions of the southern city should not be underestimated.

It is said that when Nadir-Divan-Begi built the Khanaqa (place of retreat), a large house belonging to a Jewish widow is said to have stood on the site of the existing havuz. The Divan-Begi decided that this place was ideal for the construction of a water collection basin on the Khanaqa.

He approached the widow with an offer to sell the farm at a good price. But the Jewish woman would not agree to this under any circumstances.

Places of interest
Madrasa Abdulaziz Khan

Bukhara - Madrasa Abdulaziz Khan

Bukhara - Madrasa Abdulaziz Khan

Madrasa Abdulaziz Khan is the last of the largest madrasas of Bukhara (1652), with a large courtyard, spacious darskhona (study room), summer and winter mosques and quite comfortable hujras (a living room for Koranic disciples/students). In a small courtyard, in front of the entrance to the living area of the Hujras, there is a taschnau – a sewage well covered with a stone slab.

The room has a plaster wall that separates the bedroom. The madrasa Abdulaziz Khan, named after its founder, can without exaggeration take a special place in the architectural development of Bukhara.

Abdulaziz Khan, the ruler at the time, ordered the construction of a Persian-style madrasah with a large courtyard to be shared by four aiwans (the most important part of a palace, i.e. the audience hall). The entrance portal, built according to the “Kosh” principle, is characterised by its impressive size, height and rich external decoration.

The aiwan of Madrasa Abdulaziz Khan is multifaceted and decorated with hanging stalactites. Instead of the usual and common geometric, astral and vegetative ornaments, more complex and colourful shapes are used for the covering of the Abdulaziz khan madrasah.

Madrasah Abdulaziz Khan contains images of the Chinese dragon and the lucky bird Semurg (in the mythology of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia Simorgh is the king of birds as well as a bird of protection and is said to have supernatural powers). The colour scheme contains mainly yellow tones. Fireplaces for heating are an innovation.

The names of the master builder Muhammad Sapih, the decorators Mim Hakan and Muhammad Amin are intertwined in the ornament. The Madrasa Abdulaziz Khan is a unique architectural ensemble with Ulugbeg Madrasa, but it is more interesting in design.

The entrance is characterised by its high and rich external decoration. All the building techniques of the time were used in the construction of the courtyard and the rooms: carved tiles and carved mosaics, relief majolica, gilding.

In the last century, the complex was called Zargaron Madrasa, because it was built next to the jeweller’s bazaar (Zargar, Zerger), in front of the Ulugbeg Madrasa. According to the plan of the builders, it was to overshadow the beautiful work of the architects of the XVth century.

In the madrasah Abdulaziz Khan, the variety of decorative ornaments of the main façade and the winter and summer mosques is amazing. Here rather light and comfortable hujras are created for students, and the madrasah is a kind of symbol of the timeless old Bukhara.

In the artistic decoration of the walls of the courtyard and the rooms all decoration techniques are used: carved tile and brick mosaics, relief majolica, marble carving, painting on the ganch, gilding (kundal) and painting with glue colours on the plaster.

There are two mosques in the madrasah – in summer (in the courtyard) and in winter (in the western corner of the entrance corridor). Both mosques are built in the style of the madrasah itself. The same approaches are used in their decoration.

Interesting is the painting of the walls with genre drawings, which was an innovation in the traditional architecture of that time. The paintings are painted with blue paint on a blue background, there are also landscapes with trees and pergolas.

The work on the Madrasa Abdulaziz Khan was not finished. There is no decoration on the left side of the facade and on the right side of the courtyard. In the absence of Abdulaziz Khan, a palace overthrow took place in Bukhara, he was deposed from the throne and work on the madrasah was stopped.

The architectural monument is also a clear historical testimony of the changes that are taking place in the state. On the territory of the madrasah there is a museum of artistic woodcarving.

In its exposition there are dervish sticks (XIX century), caskets, carved doors, shutters, tables, stools for fabrics from pear wood (XIX – XX century). In 1930 the capital of the Madrasa Abdulaziz Khan was restored.

The famous national master usto Shirin Muradov took part in the restoration works. Between 2006 and 2009 the entrance portal was renovated with funds from the Cultural Heritage Preservation Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Places of interest
Magoki Attori Moschee in Buchara

Bukhara - Magoki Attori Mosque

Bukhara - Magoki Attori Mosque

In the centre of Bukhara there is a historic Mosque called Magoki Attori, which is unique in many ways as it has preserved the original building plan and decor. Scholars have determined that the mosque was built before Islam and was one of the earliest in Bukhara. On the construction site Magoki-Attori was the temple of the fire worshippers, a temple of the moon, so it was given the second name – Mosque Moh (Persian – Mah, Tajik – Moh – the Moon). Before the first synagogue was built, Jews worshipped in the same mosque as Muslims. Nearby was the Moon Market and there was a brisk trade in medicines and spices. During the celebration of Nowruz, a large number of figures of various deities of the Zoroastrian religion were displayed in this bazaar, representing a rich harvest and fertility.

In the last works of Narshakhi, the mosque built on the site of the Moon Temple is called “Magok”, meaning “in a pit”, so the locals considered it to be an underground mosque, from here and its name Magoki Attori.

After the introduction of Islam, the Temple of the Fire Worshippers was destroyed and a mosque was built in its place. Archaeological findings in the area have led scholars to conclude that the approximate date of construction of this structure is from the IX century.

In an attempt to reconstruct the original construction of the mosque, archaeologists found that it was built with six supporting columns and a massive dome of twelve. An arch with elaborate carving resting on two stone pillars was built for the main entrance. It was located in the long part of the building and was slightly off-centre.

Unfortunately, the original Magoki-Attori building was almost completely destroyed by fire at the end of the X century. Nowadays, only the remaining elements of the walls and fragments of the carved ganch can be seen. Two centuries later, the prayer house was rebuilt using the same construction plan. The new mosque existed for about three centuries and was destroyed during this time. All that remains of this structure is the south portal with its unique decoration.

In the construction of the Magoki Attori Mosque in Bukhara, the builders successfully combined brick patterns in the form of “arches” with glazed inserts and terracotta mosaics. Vertically arranged panels were massively covered with inscriptions in Arabic, as well as generously decorated with reliefs. The unusual shape of the patterns and the original play of shadows on them suggest a high level of artistry on the part of Bukhara architects of the time.

In 1547, when the mosque was rebuilt, the ground level around it grew so much that it was necessary to build a new entrance and make a descent in the form of a wide staircase.

At that time, the south portal was already 6 to 8 metres into the ground. In the 1920s, the portal was excavated, its destroyed upper and lateral parts were reinforced, and the façade was cleaned and partially restored.

Places of interest
Bayan Quli Khan Mausoleum in Buchara

Bukhara - Mausoleum Bayan Quli Khan

Bukhara - Mausoleum Bayan Quli Khan

One of the students of Sheikh Sayf ad-Din Baharzi was the Genghiside Bayan Quli Khan (died 1358). In 1346 the power in the western part of the Mongolian Ulus Chagatai, to which Bukhara belonged, was taken over by Amir Kazagan.

Amir Kazagan did not belong to the Genghisid clan and ruled in the name of Bayan Quli Khan. When power passed to the son of Kazagan, Amir Abd-Allah, he executed Bayan Quli Khan. Bayan Quli Khan was buried near the mausoleum of Sheikh Sayf ad-Din Baharzi.

Around 1358, under the Temurids, the mausoleum of the Mongolian Khan Bayan Quli Khan (died 1358) was built in Bukhara near the honorary tomb of the famous Central Asian scholar Sheikh Sayf ad-Din Baharzi (died 1261). The mausoleum is characterised by a rich ornamental decoration with carved cast terracotta.

This two-chamber building consists of Ziyarat-khana (pilgrimage room) and Gurkhana (burial room), with a narrow bypass corridor. The main façade, to which the portal is dedicated, stands out from the others and covers the stocky domes of the building.

The facades of the building and the interior of Ziyarat-khana are dominated by carved cast terracotta (lost in many areas), made of large slabs and in the stalactite filling of the sails – whole blocks.

The ornaments are dominated by girih tiles, imitations on masonry slabs, but above all by the finest plant meshes and bizarre inscriptions. The colour is dominated by light blue, which is complemented by white and blue.

The building above the funeral of Sheikh Sayf ad-Din Baharzi (2nd half of the XIVth century) is adjacent to the basement of the mausoleum of Bayan Quli Khan in Bukhara. It is also composed of two chambers (Gurkhana and Ziyarat-khana), but excellent in composition and of considerable size.

Both rooms are crowned by egg-shaped domes; dominated by the dome of the Ziyarat-khana. The side facades are accentuated with vaults in rectangular frames. The burial is marked by a three-tiered majolica gravestone.

The prismatic volume of Mausoleum Bayan Quli Khan in Bukhara contains two rooms: the domed hall – Ziyarat-khana and the dark burial vault behind it, which is encircled on the sides of the corridors, as was customary in Buddhist temples.

The most important artistic value of the mausoleum are the carved cast terracotta and miniature tiles with which it is decorated inside and outside. A gamma of 11 colours is typical of the pre-Temurdish era: blue, manganese black, white and to a lesser extent – blue.

The platform on which the mausoleum stands is lined with a traditional motif: Adobe masonry with inserts of blue glazed “arches” on the vertical walls and its surface is lined with parquet in the form of hexagonal ripples in a rectangular enclosure. Its architectural solution was innovative for its time: it is one of the early examples of a two-chamber mausoleum.

Places of interest
Mausoleum Chashma Ayub in Buchara, Legende vom Mausoleum Chashma Ayyub, Legend of the Mausoleum Chashma Ayyub, Légende du mausolée de Chashma Ayyub, Leggenda del Mausoleo Chashma Ayyub, Легенда о мавзолее Чашма Айюб

Bukhara - Mausoleum Chashma Ayub

Bukhara - Mausoleum Chashma Ayub

The mausoleum Chashma Ayub in Bukhara (and the fountain of the same name) translates as “Job’s spring”. In Arabic, Job sounds like Ayub. The place is sacred to three religions. According to legend, the prophet Job came to the settlement even before the city of Bukhara was built on the site. At that time, the locals were dying of thirst. They had prayed to God for deliverance from the drought. Job, responding to the plea of the suffering people, struck the ground with his staff – and at the place of the blow, a well of pure, cool water appeared. As a result of this magical phenomenon, the locals have attributed new miracles to the well over the centuries. It is believed that the water from the well has healing properties and can make wishes come true.

In one way or another, but unknown events somehow connected to the name Ayub, played a role here in the formation of the city and the emergence of a diaspora of Bukhara Jews. Even in pre-Islamic times, Chashma Ayub was the sacred centre of Bukhara and the “Naukand” cemetery was built nearby.

The mausoleum was built during the Karakhanid dynasty in the 12th century. In two centuries, Amir Temur decided to continue the work started by his predecessors and hired the best masters to transform and improve the construction. The architects who worked on creating the majestic look of the architectural monument were from Shakhrisabz of Khorezm and their individual and unique style can be seen in many features of the building.

During five centuries, from the 14th to the 19th century, the mausoleum was repeatedly rebuilt and remodelled. There are a number of tombs on its territory. The tomb of Khoja Hafiz Gunjori is considered the oldest of them. The famous scholar and theologian was buried here in 1022.

Today, the Chashma Ayub mausoleum in Bukhara is interesting not only because of the ancient tombstones, but also because of the water museum. The museum’s exhibits make it possible to study in detail the process of the emergence and establishment of water supply in the region. One can find ceramic water pipes from the 18th and 19th centuries, a wide variety of containers made of leather, glass and other materials that were exclusively for water, models of water reservoirs and other objects. In the museum you can follow the history of water supply over 10 centuries. In addition, the Water Museum vividly shows the history of the Aral Sea tragedy: with maps of the spreading desert and sad photos. Of great interest to tourists is the unique exhibition of carpets held on the territory of Chashma-Ayub.

Places of interest
Mausoleum Imam Kazikhan in Bukhara

Bukhara - Mausoleum of Imam Kazikhan

Bukhara - Mausoleum of Imam Kazikhan

The mausoleum (the Mazar) of Imam Kazikhan in Bukhara is mentioned in the Book of Mullozoda, where the full name of the Imam is given (Imam Hasan bin Mansur bin Mahmud bin Abdu-laziz Margilani). It is also reported here that “Khazrati Imam Kazikhan” was a judge (Qozi) in Bukhara and wrote several books.

A very interesting legend about him has been preserved in Bukhara. Hulagu Khan came to Bukhara with his troops. He announced his intention to destroy Bukhara if he did not receive a correct answer to the question of who had led him to the heads of Bukhara.

The people of Bukhara asked for forty days to think it over, but could not produce anything satisfactory. Finally, there was a boy in a maktab (school) who undertook to answer Hulagu Khan.

As the time limit was running out and no more honourable solution could be found, they decided to send this boy to Hulagu Khan. The boy asked that a camel and a large white goat be brought to him and that he himself be sent to Hulagu Khan in a palanquin (maofa).

When Hulagu Khan saw the boy before him, he became angry and said, “Have they not found a greater, have they not found a white-bearded old man, that they might send a child to me?”

The boy replied, “If you need someone tall, here is a camel. If you want someone with a white beard, here is a goat. If you want an answer, here it is. Who brought you to us? You were guided by our bad deeds.”

Hulagu Khan was surprised at the boy’s wisdom and said, “I have travelled through many countries and no one to whom I asked this question could give the right answer, but you have found a good answer to which there is no objection. You can ask whatever you want.” The boy asked to be given as much land as the camel’s hide would bear. The boy had a camel slaughtered and its hide split into thin strands and surrounded the city with them. This is how he got Bukhara from Hulagu Khan.

Where the strands lay, he had a wall built. They started to build the wall, but he was gone. Through clumsiness, the builders took the clay for the wall from the city side and that is why the city ended up in a valley, there was no moat outside.

When the boy came back, he was very angry with himself for not specifying where the earth should be taken from: “If you had taken the earth from outside, you would have got an impregnable fortress”.

The boy attained sainthood and became famous under the name Imam Kazikhan. His tomb (mazar) was considered to help with illnesses. The mausoleum of Imam Kazikhan in Bukhara was highly revered and was never ridden past on a horse (you got off the horse when you rode past).

Hulagu Khan in the life of Imam Kazikhan

Hulagu Khan (1217 – 1265, Maraga, Iran) – grandson of Genghis Khan, brother of Grand Khan Munke – the head of the Mongol Empire, founder of the Hulaguid dynasty and state.

It is known that in 1256 Hulagu Khan led the army of Eastern Christians, the majority of whom were Turks – Nestorians, in an unprecedented crusade into the Middle East.

Hulagu defeated the Ishmaelite state in Iran (1256) and the Abbasid Caliphate (1258), fought the Mamluks in Syria (1260) and the Golden Horde (1262). In 1256 he proclaimed himself ruler, although he nominally recognised the suzerainty of the Great Khan, from whom he received the title “Ilkhan” (Khan of the tribe) in 1261.

On the tomb, the years of Imam Kazikhan’s life are given as between 1132 – 1212. If this dating is correct, Imam Kazikhan was 85 years older than Hulagu Khan and could in no way be the boy during his crusade.

Moreover, Imam Kazikhan was buried in this mazar 44 years ago when Hulagu Khan was approaching the walls of Bukhara with his army. So, either the dates given on the tomb are not credible or the meeting of Imam Kazikhan with Hulagu Khan is pure fabrication.

In any case, it is very important that Bukhara has preserved the information about such a unique event as Hulagu Khan’s crusade from the East.

Places of interest
Miri Arab Medrese in Buchara

Bukhara - Miri Arab Madrasah

Bukhara - Miri Arab Madrasah

Miri Arab Madrasah is an Islamic educational and religious institution from the 16th century in Bukhara. It has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Poi-Kalon Madrasah is a part of the architectural ensemble Poi-Kalon (it includes three buildings – Madrasah, Mosque and Minaret). Miri Arab Madrasah is located on the opposite side of Kalon Mosque.

Miri Arab Madrasah in Bukhara was built in the first third of the 16th century by order of Sheikh Sayyid Abdullah al-Yamani Khazaramavti. This sheikh once had a great influence on the ruler Ubaidullah Khan. An enormous fortune was spent on the construction of the mosque: one version – 3,000 Persian prisoners were sold into slavery for this purpose and another version – the resources were obtained in military campaigns.

Even historians cannot agree on the exact date of the construction of the Madrasah. Some say that it is 1535 – 1536 and the rest – that at that time Miri Arab Madrasah had already been built, because before his death Sayyid Abdullah al-Yamani Khazaramavti (he died in 1526) ordered to bury him in the territory of the Madrasah. It is possible that Miri Arab was rebuilt in the years 1535 – 1536, therefore this date is given. By the way, exactly after the death of Sayyid Abdullah al-Yamani Khazaramavti, the Madrasah received the name Miri Arab, which means “property of the Arab”.

Although the construction was carried out in accordance with the existing structural scheme, the ensemble was executed with a certain scope and freedom. The Madrasah has 111 fairly spacious hujras, each consisting of a small living room, a living room with cupboards and a storage room.

The spacious aivans served as summer auditoriums. The grave of the founder and builder of the Madrasah took the place of a large darshana on the main façade.

The size of the Miri-Arab madrasah is 73 x 55 metres.

Its majestic façade is raised on a high platform above the grounds of the Kalon Mosque and is completely covered with mosaics. It is surrounded by massive corner towers. In the centre of the façade there is a high entrance portal with a semi-circular octopus vault and two-storey loggias on the sides.

The corner halls are crowned by turquoise domes. Their high cylindrical drums are decorated with tile mosaics that form the borders and epigraphic texts.

There are two large halls at the corners of the front façade of the Madrasah. In the southern hall there is an audience and a mosque, while in the northern hall there is a necropolis of Sheikh Miri Arab (“Prince of the Arabs”) – this was the name of Sayyid Shams ad-Din Abdullah al-Arabi, who came from Yemen.

In the 80s of the XV century Miri Arab moved to Central Asia and became an apprentice of Khodscha Ahrar. He was the head of the Muslims of Bukhara and enjoyed great authority at the courts of Muhammad Shaybani and Ubaidullah Khan.

Ubaidullah Khan revered Miri Arab as his spiritual teacher. Ubaidullah Khan was the educated man of his time. He freely recited the Koran, wrote commentaries in Old Uzbek, wrote several Sufi tracts, was a gifted singer and musician.

Until 1920, the Madrasah was located in the Emirate of Bukhara (a state situated on the territory of today’s Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and part of Turkmenistan). After 1920, when the Soviet Union came to power, the Madrasah was closed. In 1945, however, Mufti Eshon Bobokhon succeeded in discovering Miri Arab. Until 1989 she was the only Madrasah in the USSR (another one from 1956 to 1961 was in Tashkent, but it was closed because of the accident of the building).

The study in the Madrasah took 9 years, if the first-year student already had a secondary secular education – 4 years. The programme covered secular and religious subjects and was supervised by the Council for Religious Affairs of the Government of the USSR. There were very few students in the Madrasah: between 40 and 80 people studied there every year.

The sights of the Madrasah are the internal open portals, located on the axes of the court and used as summer classrooms. Carved mosaics with predominantly plant ornaments and complex handwriting in the form of a Sülüs were used in the exterior decoration.

It was this Madrasah that gave the Islamic Orient the most enlightened personalities in religious studies, poetry and culture.

In the meantime, the Miri Arab Madrasah has become one of the most important religious educational institutions in Bukhara. It is here that the future Muftis (Islamic jurists) are introduced to all the subtleties of Islam.

Places of interest
Nodir Devonbegi in Buchara

Bukhara - Nadir Divan Begi Ensemble

Bukhara - Nadir Divan Begi Ensemble

The Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah, which belongs to the Nadir Divan-Begi Ensemble in Bukhara, was planned and built as a caravanserai, and at its ceremonial opening it was declared a Madrasah by Imam Kulikhan (1622 – 1623). The building had to be reconstructed and rebuilt to meet the new title. The one-storey building was extended by one more floor, which was equipped for the stay of students. A portal and loggias also appeared in the structure and some towers were added to the façade. The Madrasse is interested in the fact that the main hall for teaching has not been built.

Therefore, there are no Aiwans in the Madrasah of Nadir Divan-Begi, no Darskhana domed rooms, whose role was played by large corner rooms. The wide and high passage through the portal and the exit to the back courtyard of the house, which is typical for caravanserais, have been preserved.

The portal contained elegant pictures of animals from mosaics. Among them are a few birds of happiness Semurg (Simurg is in the mythology of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia king of birds as well as a bird of protection and is said to have supernatural powers) flying towards the sun. In their strong claw paws these mythical birds keep deer. The portal is also decorated with a holy inscription praising Allah and his prophet Muhammad (S.A.V.).

On the opposite side of the Madrasah is a Khanaka, named after the same vizier. This building was constructed between 1619 and 1620. This building consists of several parts. The main part is a huge, elongated portal, which is decorated with epigraphic representations on the sides. There are hujras on both sides of the portal. The central entrance group of the Khanaka is very simple and modest, decorated in the classical style – decorated with flowers.

The Madrasah is separated from the Khanaka by a huge artificial pond, which is shaped like a rectangle and stretches from east to west. It is the havuz of Nadir Divan-Begi. Its bank looks like large steps in a bright yellow tone. The main material used to build these steps was limestone.

The main façade of the Khanaka is beautifully reflected in the water of the house and also serves as a kind of architectural and decorative screen that completes the perspective. For centuries, a slender portal woven with majolica was reflected in the mirror of the house.

The Masjidi Kalon Mosque is called Khanaka by the Hungarian dervish Hermann Vambery, where in the shade of the trees “actors depicting the exploits of famous warriors and prophets never lack crowds of curious listeners and spectators.

The ground plan of the building of Khanaka is relatively small, compact and square. It is two storeys high, almost completely hidden behind a high portal. Only above the side facades is a slightly elevated dome visible.

The spacious and high hall opens inside. It occupies almost the entire area of the Khanaka, only in its corner massifs are small hujras arranged.

Places of interest
Labi Hovus in Buchara

Bukhara - Nodir Devon Begi Khanaka

Bukhara - Nodir Devon Begi Khanaka

Nodir Devon Begi Khanaka in Bukhara is a large multi-chambered building with a central domed hall (11.2 m long on each side) pierced by shallow niches on the sides. The Khanaka is part of the Nodir Devon Begi Khanaka ensemble.

Due to its location as well as the existing large hall with good acoustics, the Nodir Devon Begi Khanaka in Bukhara has been the centre of Bukhara’s cultural and religious life for centuries.

Both the Ashtarkhanids and the Shaibanids promoted Sufi communities. A special role in their state in the first decades of their rule was played by Sheikh Khodja Hashim of Juibar (died 1636).

Thanks to him, Imamkuli-khan (1611-1642) was able to establish himself on the throne of Bukhara. Khodja Hashim was the spiritual advisor not only to the Khan of Bukhara, but also to the ruler of Samarkand, Yalangtush-biya (he later buried Khodja Hashim in the Sher-Dor medrese), as well as to an important dignitary of the Ashtarkhanids Nodir Devon Begi.

The latter is best known for building a madrasa near the Khodja Akhrar necropolis in Samarkand.

Probably on the instructions of Khodja Hashim, Nodir Devon Begi built a large Sufi Khanaka to the east of the Magoki Attari Mosque in 1619-1620. This is a massive structure with a cruciform hall under the dome and hujshras in the corners.

Places of interest
Sayf ad-Din Baharzi Mausoleum in Buchara

Bukhara - Sayf ad-Din Baharzi Mausoleum

Bukhara - Sayf ad-Din Baharzi Mausoleum

Sheikh Sayf ad-Din Baharzi (1190 – 1261), the disciple of the outstanding Khorezm Sufi Nadschm ad-Din Kubro (d. 1220), preached in Bukhara, where he founded the famous Khanaqa of the followers of Sufism “kubroviyya”.

In Bukhara, Sheikh Baharzi succeeded in converting the Khan of the Golden Horde Berke to Islam. At the end of the nineteenth century, he led a medrese in Bukhara founded by the Mongol dignitary, the Muslim Ma’skd-bek.

The Sufi Khanaqa in Fatkhabad emerged in the early 10th century, apparently some time after the establishment of the Kubrawiyya brotherhood (tariqa) in Khorezm, founded by Nadschm an-Din al-Kubra.

The Qubrawiyya represented the Central Asian school of mysticism, was traditionally Sunni, and extended its activity to the borders of western China, operating into the 18th century.

Sayf ad-Din Baharzi was a murid (disciple) of Nadschm ad-Din Kubro, his follower and disseminator of al-Kubro’s ideas. The Khanaqa practised silent and loud zikr, self-singing, and preached the ideas of al-Qubro – ritual purity, fasting, silence, withdrawal from the world and spiritual remembrance of God.

As in the Tariqa Kubrawiyya, the authority of the supreme sheikh (caliph) in the Fatkhabad community was hereditary; all the descendants of Sayf ad-Din Baharzi were sheikhs and headed the Fatkhabad.

The Sayf ad-Din Baharzi Mausoleum in Bukhara stands out for its grandiose forms, the size of its construction and the extraordinary simplicity and clarity of its architectural idea. It is a building with a more complex plan – with a tomb – purkhona and a space of remembrance – ziarathona.

Two domes above form the profile of the building. The Sayf ad-Din Baharzi Mausoleum in Bukhara is almost unadorned, but the richest decorative element of the monument – a luxurious tombstone standing in the room of the Gurkhan – more than covers it.

This tombstone, with its astonishing delicacy and versatility of pattern, the limitless intricacy of the weaving of the plant ornament and the most intricate ligature of Arabic inscriptions, is a true masterpiece of medieval woodcarving.

After his death, Sheikh Sayf ad-Din Baharzi was buried in Bukhara in the Fatkhabad district. At the end of the XIIIth century, the mausoleum was built over his tomb, to which the domed Khanaqa with portal was added in the XIVth century.

This Khanaqa was a place of Sufi worship until the end of the XVIIIth century. It was a place of Sufi meetings until the end of the XVIII century.

Places of interest
Samani Mausoleum in Bukhara

Bukhara - Secret of Samanid Mausoleum

Bukhara - Secret of Samanid Mausoleum

To the west of Registan Square in Bukhara, in the greenery of the park, situated on the old “Naukand” cemetery, there is a perfect architectural creation – the Samanid mausoleum and the secret connected with it. It is believed to be the tomb of the Samanid rulers, which was built in the late IX to early X century. centuries.

It is possible that the construction of the mausoleum was a response of the Samanids to the call of the Abbasid caliphate, where in 862 the mausoleum of Qubba al-Sulabiyya was built over the tomb of the Caliph of al-Muntasir.

It is important for our topic that these were probably the first Islamic mausoleums in which the original form of the right dome “Qubba dome” was embodied. The secret of Samanid mausoleum in Bukhara lies in its richest brick decoration and exquisite architectural composition, which many scholars attribute to the pre-Islamic culture of the ancient Sogdiana.

This contradiction gave rise to the idea of versions of the earlier construction of the mausoleum and even to interpret it as a Zoroastrian temple of the sun. Let us try to solve this problem on the basis of a semantic analysis of the mausoleum symbolism.

In our opinion, the mausoleum has a main symbolic composition in its arches, which represents its essential cosmogram. This characteristic square sign is symmetrically located on both sides of the entrance to both sides of the mausoleum.

Each of the signs has four inscribed squares in its structure. The inner square is inscribed with a circle. The outline of the outer squares contains 40 “pearl rings”. Within the squares there are also large and small “double-winged” signs.

Let us take care that this composition of signs is a flat projection of the volume solution of the mausoleum itself, i.e. their cosmograms are identical. This idea is suggested, besides the connection “cube-square” and “dome circle”, by the parallel between 40 “pearls” of the sign and 40 arch-shaped openings in the upper outer part of the walls.
In the Samanid mausoleum everything from bricks, floor plan and facades is built on one square and its derivatives. This underlines once again the decisive value of the square in the symbols of the mausoleum. Possibly the influence of the Kaaba image is already very strong here.

Starting from the square, the cosmogram of the mausoleum can then be broken down into three symbols based on the square:

  1. the already known sign “circle in square”,
  2. the sign “square inscribed in the square” and
  3. the sign “two squares with forty pearls”

1. “circle in square” is the original original form of the mausoleum, as shown above.

2. the characteristic feature of the mausoleum is its chortaku-like opening on all four sides, which explained the possibility of the source of its spiritual power.

Probably this idea is expressed by an inner square shifted in orientation, the corners of which indicate the location of the entries. The wings above the arches of the mausoleum are a traditional symbol of spirituality (think of the wings of angels).

The existence of these signs determines the overcoming of worldly vanity at the entrance to the mausoleum, the initiation into the divine. The semantics of the sign “a square inscribed in a square” can also be interpreted as a symbol of the “unity of macro- and microcosm”.

The movement from the small to the large square is magnification, which means macrocosm and infinity of the universe. The backward movement (reduction) represents the microcosm and the spiritual world.

3. “Two squares with forty pearls” refers to the symbolism of the sacred number 40. In the Islamic tradition the fate of the soul at birth and death is connected with it: Forty days the soul enters the body of a newborn child, forty days it does not leave the earth after death.

Considering the purpose of the monument, we can also assume that the “forty pearls” of the mausoleum symbolise the “forty saints” – Chiltan (Persian, Tajik – “forty people”) who protect the world.

The Uzbeks and Tajiks, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz have preserved old legends about “Chiltans” – the forty years of the “secret saints” or “innermost people”. Later, they became intertwined with the Sufi and Ismaelite beliefs and brought Chiltans into the circle of Muslim saints.

Then the square “fence” of 40 pearls on the shield means the protection of the mausoleum by 40 powerful saints, the spiritual connection of the buried saint with them. The image of the 40 light sources (arched windows) illuminating the mausoleum and thus counteracting the darkness corresponds well with the image of the 40 saints protecting the mausoleum.

Furthermore, the sacred number “forty” for Maverannahr and Khorezm was one of the characteristics of the secret association of senders of the Siyavush cult (zhretses’ corporation) in the early Middle Ages.

The image of Siyavush embodied a sun deity associated with a calendar-agrarian cult whose high priest in pre-Islamic Bukhara was the ruler of the region. Thus the cosmogram of the Samanid mausoleum combines Islamic and pre-Islamic symbols.

This is a proof of the two faiths of the population, who officially accepted the new Islamic faith but continued to practice “pagan” rituals, and of the fact that the two were officially recognised by the Samanids.

It is likely that the proclamation of Samanid statehood independently of the Abbasid caliphate in the 60-70s of the 9th century demanded local pre-Islamic religious ideas and symbols in the interest of cultural sovereignty and the sanctification of the new ruling dynasty.

This explains the “secret” of Islamic Samanid mausoleum.

Places of interest
Sitorai Mohi Hossa - Bukhara, Usbekistan Tour, Tour dell'Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan Journey, Circuit en Ouzbékistan, Тур по Узбекистану

Bukhara - Sitorai Mokhi Khosa

Bukhara - Sitorai Mokhi Khosa

The summer palace of the Emir of Bukhara Sitorai-Mokhi-Khosa (from Persian “House of the Moon and Stars”) is located 4 kilometres north of Bukhara. Construction of the palace began in the late 19th century, when the best craftsmen in the empire were sent to St. Petersburg and Yalta on behalf of the Emir of Bukhara, Ahadkhan, to study the experience of Russian architects. In 1890, local architects under the direction of Usto Hodja Hafiz built an old palace.

Therefore, the architecture of the ensemble is a combination of elements of typical European architecture with the decorative interior design of the palaces of Isfahan and centuries-old local architectural traditions.

Some of the palaces existed there even under the Amir Nasrullah and Muzaffar. But it was only under Amir Abdullahad that large-scale construction began at Sitorai-Mokhi-Khosa in Bukhara.

The most interesting new palace, consisting of several remarkable structures, such as the triumphal arch of the entrance gate with mosaics; galleries with a straight line around the courtyard; a section of European architecture with a greenhouse in front of a large water basin (1917 – 1918) and the rooms of the Emir’s harem, located in the middle of the garden. The main part of the palace consists of several rooms and private flats of the Emir.

The most famous room in this area is the White Hall. The construction of the hall took 2 years (1912 – 1914). Under the Amir Alim-khan, the new palace complex Sitorai-Mokhi-Khosa was built in Bukhara.

The main building of the palace housed the reception rooms and the Amir’s personal quarters. The new Sitorai-Mokhi-Khosa complex mainly housed Russian officials, while the rulers and authorities of Bukhara were received in the old palace.

Next to the new palace were the barracks of Amir Alim-khan’s personal guard, the electricity plant, premises for privileged officials and servants, workshops and other household buildings.

The project of the new buildings was designed by the engineer Margulis. Dutch tiled stoves, coloured glass, mirrors were supplied by Russian factories. The marble lions at the entrance were made by craftsmen from Nurata, who also made the marble spillways for the houses in the shape of a dragon’s mouth.

A group of 25 to 30 skilled workers led by the legendary craftsman Usto Shirin Muradov completed the decoration of the palace. Muradov mainly created gulganch (carved plaster) that covered the walls and ceiling of the palace.

Places of interest

Bukhara - the settlement Poykend

Bukhara - the settlement Poykend

60 km southwest of Bukhara is the ancient settlement called Poykend with an area of about 20 hectares. There was a large trading town of Poykend or Lower Town until the middle of the 11th century.

The name is associated with the location of the town in the lower reaches of the Zeravshan River on the western border of Sogd. In the V-VIII century, the settlement of Poykend was the richest city in Bukhara. During the Vth century, Poykend was one of the main trade centres on the Great Silk Road, along with Samarkand.

Every year for half a year in spring, almost the entire male population of the city set out with the huge caravan for the borders of China. One of the bloody wars of the Turkish Khans and the Shahs of Persia ended in peace at the end of the VI century with the siege of Poykend by the Persian commander Bahram Chubin.

The settlement Poykend, together with Bukhara, submitted to the Arabs in the first decades of the VIII century. Century to the Arabs.

The Arabs destroyed a city after capturing vast wealth and taking the inhabitants captive. Gold and silver statues of pagan idols from the settlement of Poykend were melted down into ingots and sent to the court of the Khalif.

The merchants who returned from China in caravans ransomed some of the townspeople and rebuilt the town. The city centre of Poykend was a citadel of 90 x 90 m, and the first settlements on its territory appeared before time.

In the early Middle Ages, there was a ruler’s palace here, as well as temples and administrative buildings. Two shahristans adjoined the citadel: the first with an area of 12 hectares was inhabited by the Ephtalites, the second with an area of 7 hectares was built at the beginning of the VI century.

The medieval Poykend, including the two shahristans, was surrounded by fortress walls with towers every 60 metres. To the north of the settlement was a necropolis with Zoroastrian burial grounds.

During the Samanid rule, the city regained its position as a major trade and craft centre, competing with Bukhara. Dozens of new caravanserais sprang up around it. The remains of the XI century Juma Mosque were found on the city’s citadel and its minaret, judging by its base, surpassed the size of the Kalon minaret in Bukhara.

Due to the deepening of the Zeravshan, Poykend was deprived of water in the XI century and fell into disrepair. The city was swallowed up by the desert for thousands of years, which has preserved it until today.

In the XXth century, Poykend, which was rediscovered by archaeologists, was given the name “Pompey of Asia”.

This is how Muhammad Narshakhi describes the foundation of Poykend in his work “Tarikhi Bukhara” (10th century):

The Turkestan people from the southern Kazakh region near Bukhara founded a city and called it Poykend, the Rich City. “The people who came here from Turkestan settled here because this area had a lot of water and trees, there were beautiful places to hunt; all this appealed to the settlers.

At first they lived in yurts and tents, but then more and more people came here and the settlers started to build buildings. A lot of people gathered and they chose one from their milieu and made him the Amir. His name was Abruy.

The town itself did not exist yet, but there were already some villages, such as: Nur, Harkan-Rud, Vardana, Taravja, Safna, and Isvana. The large village where the king himself lived was called Poykend and the town was called Kala-i-Dabusi.

After some time, Abruya’s power grew and he began to rule the area brutally, so that the patience of the inhabitants was exhausted. The peasants and rich merchants left this area for Turkestan and Taraz, where they built a city and called it Khamukat, because the great peasants who were at the head of the resettlers called Khamuk, which in the language of Bukhara means pearls, and Kat means a city; thus this name meant “city of Khamuk”.

In general, the people of Bukhara call the nobles “Khamuk”. Those who stayed in Bukhara sent ambassadors to their nobles asking to protect them from the violence of Abruya. The nobles and the peasants asked the ruler of the Turks named Kara-Jurin-Turk, whom the people called Biyagu because of his greatness, for help.

Biyagu immediately sent his son Shiri-Kishwar with a large army. He arrived in Bukhara, seized Abruya by Poykend and ordered a large sack to be filled with red bees and made Abruya fall into it, from which he died.

Shiri-Kishwar liked the land he had conquered very much and sent a letter to his father asking him to appoint him ruler of this region and to be allowed to settle in Bukhara. Soon he received the reply that Biyagu was leaving this province to him.

Shiri-Kishwar sent an ambassador to Khamukat to persuade him to bring back home all those who had fled Bukhara with their families. He wrote a letter promising that all those who had returned to Bukhara from Khamukat at his invitation would become his neighbours.

This promise was caused by the fact that all the rich and nobles were expelled and the poor and lower class remained in Bukhara…”.

Places of interest
Ulugbek Medrese in Buchara

Bukhara - the Ulugbek Madrasah

Bukhara - the Ulugbek Madrasah

During the reign of Ulugbek, a descendant of Amir Temur, education developed actively. Ulugbek was involved in educational activities and established many famous madrasas in various cities of the country, including Bukhara with its strict Islamic principles. The Ulugbek Madrasah in Bukhara was built even earlier than the famous similar educational institutions in Samarkand (Ulugbek Madrasah in Samarkand) and Gijduvan and became their prototype.

The building of the madrasah was built in 1417. The construction was carried out by the best architects of that period – Ismayil Isfagani and Najmiddin Bukhari. However, the madrasah did not acquire its modern appearance with majolica coating until 1585 during the restoration work. Contemporaries remember that Ulugbek, on his first visit to the madrasah, gave expensive gifts to all students and teachers.

Originally, the educational institution built on Ulugbek’s behalf was intended to train 80 apprentices. Much attention was paid here to mathematical and astronomical instruction, the Arabic language and religion. According to historical data, up to 150 students studied here at the same time. They not only had accommodation, but also a decent scholarship.

The structure still looks very harmonious and balanced today. A rather austere and modest decoration does not prevent the building from being majestic and from being considered one of the main works of architecture of that time.

The medrese is a building of impressive size and rectangular shape. The façade of the main entrance is decorated with a large portal. The structure differs in its design from many similar buildings. According to tradition, in most madrasahs the widest central corridor leads to the courtyard. In the Ulugbek Madrasah in Bukhara this tradition is broken. The corridor starting from the doors is divided into two parts, the first of which leads to the mosque and the second to the study room. The entrance group of the educational institution was decorated with a carved extract from the Koran, which states that every true Muslim must strive for knowledge. This saying was a kind of motto of Ulugbek himself. Next to it there is another inscription saying that the blessing of God awaits those who have grasped the wisdom of the books.

The wise ruler is known throughout the world for his many scientific achievements in the field of astronomy. And the astral decoration of the madrasah reflects Ulugbek’s desire to understand the mysteries of the heavens. If you look at the patterns and ornaments on the walls of the building, you will see that they are used in various techniques – it is associated with numerous restorations of madrasahs.

Places of interest
Handelspassage Abdulla Khan

Bukhara - Tim Abdulla-Khan

Bukhara - Tim Abdulla-Khan

In the East, trade has always been considered a noble occupation. And in the noble Bukhara, bazaars buzzed and the doors of craft shops were opened hospitably along the streets. But in the XVI century huge covered trading domes were built in Bukhara, one of them, the Trade Dome – Tim Abdulla-Khan, named after its builder, a ruler from the Shaibanid dynasty, still exists today. The trade dome was built in 1577 to sell silk and wool goods. The mall is located on a market street that connects the domes of Toki Zargaron and Toki Tilpak-Furushon.

This huge, square-shaped building with several domes is located on one of the main market streets in the city. Its central dome rises above the octahedral base, between whose pillars lancet arches are thrown. Around the main room there is a gallery covered with many small domes on massive supports. The arched niches form the space of the shopping centre for 56 shopping arcades. All rooms of the dome are connected by a system of spacious vaulted enfilades. Through the window, which is cut in the main drum of the dome, mild light falls and shines in small domes.

An ingenious interior solution created a unique microclimate in the Tim Abdulla-Khan. Air circulation, semi-darkness and refreshing coolness welcomed customers on hot summer days. And it is not difficult to imagine the feelings of the travellers when, after a long journey through salt marshes and sand, their caravan entered the vaults of the hospitable Bukhara, where a well-deserved rest awaited them.

The trading dome Tim Abdulla-Khan was intended for the sale of silk, for which Bukhara was famous even before the Arab conquest. In the village of Zandana near Bukhara, silk patterned fabrics were woven, which were exported to the West under the name of Zandanechi by merchants along the Great Silk Road from Sogd. From the XVIth century onwards, velvet bakhmal was woven in Bukhara with an abrasive pattern of silk. And for several centuries the famous fabric – Khan Atlas, whose craftsmanship has been passed down from generation to generation, from father to son, has been woven from the shelves of the Bukhara bazaars.

The surviving trade buildings were only a small part of the Bukhara streets, which were densely built with shops and workshops in the Middle Ages. But even those that have survived from time to time provide an impressive picture of the historic city in the Orient, where overseas goods themselves served as the best decoration for the shops.

Places of interest

Bukhara - Toqi Telpak Furushon

Bukhara - Toqi Telpak Furushon

Toqi Telpak Furushon (in some sources – Taqi Telpakfurushon) is one of the preserved traditional indoor bazaars of Bukhara. It was built in 1570-1571 under Abdullah Khan II, one of the rulers of the Shaibanid dynasty. It was the Shaibanids who began to make Bukhara an important commercial centre, situated at the crossroads of many caravan routes. The symbol for the achievement of this goal were the trade domes that gathered traders from different parts of the world under their roofs.

The material from which the trade dome was built was ceramic tiles. This unusual structure is a kind of hexagon at the base. Such an urban design solution was very favourable in terms of compactness, as Telpak Furushon was built at a crossroads where five streets converged in one place. Its central part is an amazingly beautiful spherical dome with small openings cut through it. The dome is supported by six pylons, it has 12-sided lighting, tourists are especially interested in viewing the dome from inside.

The diameter of the main dome of Toqi Telpak Furushon is 14.5 metres.

In addition to the main dome, small domes with niches were built above the shopping mall. Around the main dome there were usually storage rooms, caravanserais for visiting merchants and warehouses for products for sale. The exit from the western passage of the Trade Dome leads to Mekhtar Ambar Street, where you can visit the ancient caravanserai of Kuleta, where travellers rested in ancient times. As a part of the historical part of Bukhara, the dome was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In the XVI century Bukhara became famous as an important shopping centre and the bazaars on its streets began to turn into large markets. The peculiarity of this period was the placement of commercial shops in different streets according to the type of products sold. In order to create the most favourable conditions for trade and merchants travelling on the Great Silk Road, the construction of trade domes – multi-ventilated vaulted ceilings at crossroads and squares called “currents” was started. Merchants from India, the Russian Empire, Iran, China and many other countries came here. It can be said that the trade domes of medieval Bukhara were a prototype of modern shopping centres, but they differed in that in each of them a certain type of product could be bought.

At first the booksellers gathered under the dome of Telpak Furushon. For this reason, its original name was Kitab-Furushon, which literally means “the dome of the booksellers”. Under the domes of Telpak Furushon, the sale of all kinds of headgear for adults and children, men and women, then began: embroidered beads, headdresses made of gold or precious stones, solid Telpaks (fur hats), fur hats, unusual turbans, chuguras (caps made of fur and sheep’s wool) and other such things. They were bought by both locals and foreign visitors. This tradition has been preserved until today. Due to the fact that at one time the direction of trade under the dome was changed, its name was also changed.

The word “telpak” is a traditional headdress made of sheep wool. Toqi Telpak Furushon literally means “the dome of the traders of headwear”.

Today tourists can visit Toqi Telpak Furushon to see a building with a long history and buy various souvenirs, antiques, clothes, scarves made by local craftsmen. In this famous place of Bukhara you can still buy a variety of scarves and beautiful hats. You can negotiate with the sellers and lower the price, although it is not as high as the tourists write.

It is pleasant to walk along the colourful eastern trade rows after visiting the madrassas and mosques of the old town. Moreover, there is always a cool shade under the covered shopping arcades and there is always a light breeze blowing. Not far from the trade dome there is a forge where knives and other tools are made using old technology.

Places of interest

Bukhara - Trade dome Toqi Sarrafon

Bukhara - Trade dome Toqi Sarrafon

The medieval Bukhara was a great trading city, welcoming merchants from all parts of Central Asia, from Iran and India, from Russia and China. The trading status of Bukhara was reflected in the planning and development of the city. Large streets in the centre served as bazaars, each selling a particular type of product. Complex, multiply ventilated domed floors were built for their improvement in the squares and crossroads of the streets, known as “stream” – arches, vaults. Three such structures have been preserved: Toqi Zargaron (trade dome of the jewellers), Toqi Sarrafon (trade dome of the money changers) and Toqi Telpak Furushon (trade dome of the cap sellers).

The majestic trade dome Toqi Sarrafon is located at the intersection of several streets that connect the city centre of Bukhara with a medieval suburb (Registan and Rabat). The structure was named after the Sarrafs – the merchants who transformed it. Traditionally, the exchange of currencies of different states was carried out by Indians. This means that the dome can be considered one of the oldest “currency exchanges” in the East. The main part of the structure – a huge dome – stands on four large arches and on all sides this structure is surrounded by various buildings. The arches are interesting because they are executed in a unique architectural style. Their design is called “charzamin” and this type of finishing is typical for Bukhara. Of course, the modern dome does not gather currency experts, but an unimaginable number of traditional eastern souvenirs are collected here. Travellers will find original jewellery (necklaces, earrings, rings) as well as all kinds of kitchen utensils and appliances and even expensive jewellery, in addition to light-coloured carpets and patterned skullcaps.

Places of interest
Toki Telpak Furushon Buchara

Bukhara - Trading Dome Toqi Zargaron

Bukhara - Trading Dome Toqi Zargaron

The Trading Dome Toqi Zargaron (in some sources Taqi Zargaron) is the most extensive bazaar among the bazaars of Bukhara. It is located north of the other three famous dome bazaars in the city, near the Poi Kalon complex. This majestic architectural masterpiece was built between 1569 and 1570 under the rule of Abdullah Khan II of the Shaibanid dynasty.

The Trading Dome Toqi Zargaron in Bukhara became the first such bazaar in the city after Bukhara was awarded the honorary title of capital of the great state and became one of the important points on the Great Silk Road. The establishment of Bukhara as one of the most important administrative, commercial and craft cities of Central Asia contributed significantly to the prosperity of the dome bazaars. Their establishment made it possible not only to organise a wide range of trade, but also to relieve the central streets in order to make movement in the city as pleasant as possible. The Trading Dome Toqi Zargaron was built on the site of the Chorsu – the intersection of shopping streets and bazaars. Together with other monuments of Bukhara, the trading dome Toqi Zargaron has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites as “Historical Centre of Bukhara”.

“Toqi” is the name of the domes of the covered bazaars, which were built at the intersection of several busiest streets. “Zargar” is translated as “jeweller”, so that the Toqi Zargaron dome was also called “Jeweller’s Trading Dome”.

The structure is executed in the style typical of Persian architecture. The dome is quite strongly stretched and the vertical edges of the structure protrude strongly forward, outwards. Around the central space under the dome there were shops of traders and workshops of local craftsmen. Small, overlapping domes were also built over galleries with benches and workshops, creating a multi-domed roof over the rows of merchants. The united galleries under the vault can be described as medieval corridors.

The diameter of the central dome of Toqi Zargaron is 14 metres.

The material used for the construction of the trading dome was ceramic bricks. Toqi Zargaron is, among other preserved covered bazaars of Bukhara, the most complex in terms of construction and arrangement. The space inside is organised in such a way that it remains cool even on hot summer days. No decorative elements were used in the construction, as the most important thing was a constructive and efficient arrangement. The traders’ shops extended from the dome to the Ulugbeg madrasah.

Within the walls of the building there is literally a jewellery kingdom. Once there were 36 workshops of craftsmen and jewellery stands in niches of galleries and pylons. Traditional oriental jewellery was made directly within the walls of the bazaar complex and then sold here.

Here one could buy earrings, necklaces, rings, luxurious headdresses made of movable parts. Traditional earrings from Bukhara consisted of a circle with a large diameter and pendants attached to it. Precious stones and enamel coating served as jewellery. Several different masters were usually involved in the production in different phases of work. The tools and knowledge of working with jewellery were passed on from father to son. It is assumed that gold, silver and copper coins were also minted here, among others for the Emirate of Bukhara.

To a much lesser extent candles and aromatic soap were sold here, which were even more appreciated than jewellery. Carpet merchants, caravanserais for traders and travellers, warehouses for objects were usually located near the dome.

Today, trade is conducted here as it was several hundred years ago. The Trading Dome Toqi Zargaron is a popular attraction. Tourists come here not only on excursions, but also to buy unique jewellery and other silverware made by local craftsmen. Other goods are also sold here: Souvenirs, clothes, tableware, antiques, carpets, books, paintings, coins, musical instruments. According to the travellers’ evaluations, the prices in the covered bazaar are acceptable. As in any market, it is customary to negotiate with sellers and to obtain discounts.

Places of interest
Varakhsha in Bukhara

Bukhara - Varakhsha Fortress

Bukhara - Varakhsha Fortress

The name of the ancient Fortress Varakhsha in Bukhara speaks volumes to the hearts and minds of archaeologists, restorers, architects, art historians, tourists and local historians. In 1937, excavations began at the former capital of the Bukharhudat, the pre-Arab rulers of Bukhara.

Since then, the world has become acquainted with the outstanding artistic values that provided a different view of the role and significance of the culture of the peoples of Central Asia and the development of world civilisation.

Central Asian murals from pre-Islamic times were discovered in the Varakhsha Fortress in Bukhara. The murals depict people and animals – the living and breathing world.

The murals at Varakhsha represent “the style of painting, flat and conventional, but with significant realistic elements”. The surviving murals are dated by scholars to VII – VIII century AD.

The painting is believed to have been created during the reign of Bukhara Khudat Buaniyat, who was killed for supporting the Mukanna rebellion. There is no doubt that there is a special building in Bukhara – the ruler’s palace.

Its construction was favoured by the political situation in the country in the last centuries before the Arab conquest – the emergence of many independent dominions.

Among the accounts of written sources, the most famous is Narshakhi’s account of the palace of the rulers of Bukhara Khudats in Varakhsh, which, according to the author, “had no equal”.

The Varakhsha Palace is located directly on the southern ramparts of the fortress, west of the citadel. The palace building, as excavations have shown, originated in the Vth century AD and existed until the end of the VIIIth or beginning of the IXth century.

In the course of time, it underwent quite a lot of reconstruction. Three stages of its history have been identified, accompanied by major reconstructions, not counting minor repairs.

At the time of its peak, it was a clearly organised construction. In the structure of the palace building, there were mainly three large ceremonial halls arranged in a row – the East, Red and West Halls, each of which had the same dimensions: 17 x 2.5, 12 x 8.5, 7.25 x 6.6, with a wall height of at least 6.5 metres for the largest East Hall.

In these halls there were sufa made of clay (earthen platform for resting) along all the walls. In the East Hall, the sufa widened along the honourable (south) wall and formed a wide platform. In the Red Hall in front of the sufa there was a special elevation for lamps or braziers.

The ceilings in the halls were of wood of the darbaza (gate) type. The walls of the ceremonial halls were richly decorated with pictorial representations of various contents. The image of the royal reception with the king himself seated on the throne on the southern wall of the eastern hall, as well as the presence of the aforementioned platform, make it possible to identify the throne room in the latter.

In the Red Hall, the walls were painted with scenes of hunting predators and fantasy animals. The presence of wall paintings was also noted in the Western Hall. To the west, the ceremonial halls were enclosed by a wide 30 x 9 metre courtyard.

The entire area of the courtyard was paved with burnt bricks. The southern part of the courtyard was elevated below the rest of the area, forming a projection on which there were three steps.

The main building of the palace, built on a high platform, clearly rose above the rest of the buildings in Shahristan.

Places of interest
Zindan in Buchara

Bukhara - Zindan

Bukhara - Zindan

“Zindan” in Persian means “prison”, “dungeon”, a pit for prisoners in Bukhara. The prison of the XVIII century was built on the north-western corner of the old Sharhistan.

Externally Zindan looked like a small fortress. Zindan consisted of several cells for debtors, individual cells and a six meter deep hole, the so-called black hole, where prisoners and food for them were lowered down on ropes. There were only two zindan (prisons) in Bukhara.

One of them was inside the Ark Fortress and political prisoners were held there.

The Persian word “zindan” means “underground, in the darkness”. Twice a month the prisoners were taken to Registan Square in front of the Ark, where the Emir decided which of the criminals were to be executed and which were to be pardoned.

Today in Zindan there are several rooms with dummies representing prisoners and also a torture chamber with instruments of torture. The museum’s exhibitions provide information about the court proceedings in the Emirate of Bukhara in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

On the territory of the prison there is a tomb of the most dignified prisoners “Kuchkar-Ata” (VIII century). Behind the Ark Fortress (from the north-east) there is a medieval prison building – “Zindan”.

In this high building, which resembles a fortress, there is a museum today. In the past the prison consisted of two parts. In the first part the prisoners were housed in cells, which were located in several courtyards.

In the second, the criminals were in deep pits where they were lowered with ropes. This is where the name “zindan” comes from, which in Persian means “underground, darkness.

Places of interest
Ulugbek Madrasah in Gijduvan

Gijduvan - Ulugbek Madrasa

Gijduvan - Ulugbek Madrasa

One of the monuments, which we know is not mentioned in the scientific literature, is located in the large settlement of Gijduvan, 40 km from Bukhara. The structure is interesting because it is the third madrasa built by Ulugbek, thus adding to the list of structures built by him.

Moreover, it is an important monument from one of the most glorious periods of Central Asian architecture, which was due to the emergence of the powerful Temurid Empire, the concentration of significant wealth in the hands of the emirs and the ruling classes, the influx of cheap labour in the form of captive slaves and the rapid development of trade and crafts in Central Asian cities.

The architecture of this period differed greatly in form and content from the architecture of the preceding epoch. It grew out of the emirate’s great power tendencies and strove to eclipse all that had gone before by its grandiosity, its monumental forms and its wealth of sparkling azure and gold ornamentation.

The influx of artists and architects recruited from the territories conquered by Amir Temur, especially Persia, determined the diverse character of the architecture, which incorporated various elements alongside the ancient tradition of Central Asia. The fusion of these heterogeneous elements resulted in an architecture that has its own style and is an important contribution to world architecture.

During the reign of Amir Temur (known in the West as Tamerlan, 1370-1405), the style developed from small buildings firmly linked to the old local tradition (early mausoleums in Shah-i-Zinda dating back to the Temurid period, Khashma-Ayub in Bukhara and others) to its highest expression in the Bibi-Khanum Mosque.

Intensive building activity continued under Ulugbek, the ruler’s grandson, and the Temurids who succeeded him. On the eve of the downfall of the Temurid empire, which existed only briefly and was constantly being prepared by the crises in the country and a new wave of invaders, palaces, mosques and madrasas were built whose forms and decorations were characterised by austerity and splendour.

The heyday of cultural life reached its peak, followed by a slow and gradual decline over several centuries. In architecture, this decline manifested itself in the fact that the architectural forms created under Amir Temur and his successors, as well as the general ensembles and ground plans of the buildings, remained the unchanging patterns imitated by later master builders who introduced nothing fundamentally new.

The evolution of the style continues, of course, along with the changing economic and political factors, but it is largely reflected only in the interpretation of the individual elements of the building, in the more sophisticated decoration, losing the technical perfection of execution achieved in the XIV-XV centuries, which the impoverished country could not sustain, and in the development of some structural techniques, mainly in the system of domed ceilings.

The madrasas built by Ulugbek are the oldest buildings of this type in Central Asia. We see a fully developed architectural type. It is unknown whether this type was developed earlier or only in the Temurid period. We can only say that the Ulugbek madrasas are the last word in this development, for the later madrasas of the later periods mainly repeated the forms of Ulugbek and allowed only minor differences.

The Ulugbek madrasa in Gijduvan is one of the main parts of the architectural ensemble that appeared among quite popular and enjoyed respect and fame far beyond the Gijduvan district, the mazar of Abdul-Halyk Gijduwani, a famous mystic-Sufi. The building of the madrasa is not large. It faces east through the entrance. A comparison of three madrasas built by Ulugbek gives us a clear picture of the main elements of madrasas as an architectural type and their mutual relationship.

The most typical features of all the madrasas are the significant development of the portal section with a huge decorative “peshtak”, two large domed rooms on either side of the entrance serving as an auditorium or mosque, and an almost square courtyard surrounded by one- or two-storey arches under which the entrances to the hujshras (cells) are arranged.

The plans for all three madrasas are largely symmetrical. But a comparison of these monuments reveals some distinguishing features, mainly as follows.

The madrasa at Samarkand, the richest and most important of all, has two separate, non-contiguous entrances under a large portal arch that branch off in different directions via cranial corridors and lead into the inner courtyard of the building. The domed spaces on either side of the entrance are relatively undeveloped given the massive scale of the structure, and the focus has been shifted to the rear, western side, where a large assembly hall-mosque and two significant ancillary rooms have been built alongside.

On all four sides of the courtyard are large arches, both storeys high, dividing the arcades of each side into two. The hujschras were once arranged in two floors (the upper floor has not been preserved). On the façade, there are only slightly lowered decorative arches on the sides of the portal (peshtak). All four corners of the building end with high towers – minarets.

There are small side portals on the south and north façades. In contrast to the madrasa in Samarkand, the madrasa in Bukhara, which probably served as a model for all the larger madrasas in Bukhara and later in Tashkent, Kokand, Khiva and other cities, has only one entrance under the portal arch, which splits into two cranked exits onto the inner courtyard immediately in front of the gate. The mosque and the darskhana (study rooms), symmetrically located at the front of the building, assume much greater relative importance.

Large arches in the courtyard are built only on the north side opposite the entrance and on the south side between the courtyard exits. On the front façade of the building, on each side of the portal, there are two rows of hujshras arches, four in number.

The flanking towers of the façade have been partially or completely rebuilt during one of the renovations. They have no cladding and therefore offer no indication of their original height. Thus the madrasa at Bukhara, built somewhat earlier than Samarkand, is more modest in size and decoration and gives a picture of a clear simplification of the basic forms.

The third madrasa of Ulugbek at Gijduvan is even simpler in plan and more modest in size. Under a slender peshtak front façade, which appears particularly tall due to the low height of the adjoining walls, which are only one storey high, a double door decorated with carvings leads into a small, vaulted passage hall and through this – directly into the courtyard of the madrasa.

The entrance is flanked by two traditional buildings – the mosque on the right and the Darskhona on the left. The almost square courtyard of the madrasa is surrounded by a one-storey arcade, under which are the entrances to ten hujjras. There are four hujjras each on the south and north sides and two on the west side.

A large arch is built only on the western side, opposite the entrance. The outer façade has no hujjras, as in the Samarkand madrasa, and likewise there are pseudo-arches of decorative value. This is the second part in which the mosque and the darskhan are described in detail.

As already mentioned, they are arranged symmetrically on both sides of the entrance and have the same floor plan. They are oblong rooms, each divided into three parts by strongly projecting mouldings. The pillars are connected in pairs by lancet arches. Each of the three parts thus formed is covered by the arch.

The centre of these vaults also has a lantern dome on a low hexagonal drum, pierced with windows that illuminate the space. The walls of both rooms are plastered with alabaster and without any ornamentation.

The hujras of the madrasa are small rooms covered by domes in four cases and simple lancet vaults in the others. The madrasa in Gijduvan is very similar to the madrasa in Bukhara in its external decoration, both in the technical methods of execution and in the ornamentation.

This similarity is reinforced by the fact that both madrasas were thoroughly renovated at the end of the XVI century. The variety of techniques used in the cladding of both madrasas (Bukhara and Gijduvan) is not great and is limited to the figurative laying out of simple unglazed and glazed blue and blue tiles forming simple geometric patterns or rhythmically changing short Kufic inscriptions, and majolica tiles filling the tampons of the arches or forming bands of inscriptions in different parts of the building.

In both madrasas, a considerable part of the now dilapidated façade by Ulugbek was replaced by a new one, by Abdullakhan. The masters of Abdullakhan’s time (end of the 16th century), working with their own very typical methods, did not try to imitate the ornaments and techniques of the Temurid era, which had been repeated only half a century earlier in the majolica of Mir-Arab and the Great Mosque in Bukhara.

Thanks to this, the elements introduced by the 16th-century builders are easily recognisable in the façade. The main distinguishing features of both types of majolica are that the majolica tiles from Ulugbek’s time are made in a large, clear pattern with accentuated contours.

The colour tones of the majolica are blue, white and blue with gold. In the majolica at the end of the 16th century, the pattern becomes finer and transitions into the highly characteristic “finely etched” cut-out of spiralling shoots, intricately carved leaves and flowers. The contours of the design are somewhat confused and adjacent shades merge into one another. Shades: white, blue, blue and green. There is no gilding; neither carved tile mosaics nor carved marble inlays, of which the madrasa in Samarkand is so rich, are found in these two madrasas.

The only part of the Ulugbek madrasa in Gijduvan that has continuous panelling is its façade. Pylons of the portal, divided by horizontal beams into three rectangles – panels, are decorated with layouts of coloured glazed bricks of blue and blue colours with simple unglazed what simple geometric patterns. The same technique is used to decorate the walls next to the portal and the towers in the corners.

In the latter case, rectangular Kufic inscriptions are laid out with bricks. Above the entrance arch to the courtyard of the madrasa, which encloses the columns of the shield wall, there is a horizontal wide band of white letters on a blue background. The inscription is fragmentary, but its beginning and end can be read without difficulty.

Further on follows a large gap in which individual tiles have survived, of which only fragments of sentences survive. “This great place, an abode like the gardens of Paradise “the greatest Sultan, the most merciful Hakan… the saviour of the world and of the faith Ulugbek Kuragan, may Allah prolong his kingdom.”

The far end of the inscription has fallen off. On the edge of the last surviving plates, the numbers (36) at the end can be clearly read at the break near the top edge. Since, in our opinion, the numbers at the end of such an inscription cannot be traced to anything other than the date of the building’s construction, the date of its completion should be 836, i.e. AD 1433. Consequently, this monument is the youngest of the three madrasas built by Ulugbek.

Above the small arch that serves as the entrance to the courtyard are several tiles of majolica by Ulugbek. Part of the majolica fills the tympanum of this arch, and on either side of the arch are two rectangles with two lines of inscriptions executed in the typical Abdullakhan style. This inscription, like the one above, has larger gaps.

“Repaired by the command of His Majesty, exalted as Saturn…. …worthy Solomon, valiant as Alexander…. …Nushirvan… Consolidator of peace, state and faith Abdul-Ghazi Abdullah Bahadurhan, may Allah prolong his reign”.

On the left side of the inscription is written in small letters, “Completed in the months of 991, the diligence …”. Thus, the task was repaired in 991 – 1583, only 150 years after its construction.

The courtyard of the Ulugbek madrasa in Gijduvan has no cladding, or at least it has not survived to this day, although there are some gaps for cladding in the masonry of the walls. The exception is a large arch on the west side of the courtyard, which is clad internally with the same pattern of multi-coloured bricks as the front façade. The bevelled outer edge of this arch is decorated with several majolica tiles that were stuck on randomly and without pattern during one of the later repairs.

Directly opposite the entrance to the madrasa is the Hodja Abdul-Halik-Mazar, located in a small courtyard enclosed by a brick fence on the north, east and south sides. The courtyard is enclosed on the north and east sides by a brick fence supported on five wooden posts. Adjacent to the courtyard to the west is a mosque consisting of a shed on two wooden pillars. The pillars stand on stone plinths and are crowned with stalactite capitals shaped like ciphers. One of the plinths bears an inscription, half eaten away by time, which reads, “This blessed building was completed through the efforts of Hazret Shah Sultan in the year 947” (1541 A.D.). (1541 A.D.). Taking into account obvious repairs and alterations, the mosque itself apparently belongs to the period indicated in the inscription. An interesting feature of the mosque is a wooden mihrab with a stalactite niche, which has three rows of stalactites and a small half-dome.

The star-shaped ornament covering the mihrab is mostly crumbled and bears traces of staining. In front of the mosque, almost in the middle of the courtyard, there is a dakhma with the Sheikh’s tomb, which is covered with grey stone slabs. There is no gravestone, only a marble slab (with the date 1331 (1913) on the west side of the dakhma) with an inscription with several chronograms “tarihs” on the death of the Sheikh.

The madrasa and the mazar are surrounded by a large cemetery to the west, north and partly to the south. The madrasa is surrounded by a large cemetery to the west, north and partly to the south. All in all, it is a very interesting complex of buildings built over the centuries around the famous Mazar, a nest of the Khoja who spend their last days here waiting for the increasingly rare pilgrims.

This complex is also interesting because, as we have shown above, its individual parts are dated by the inscriptions of modern buildings, which is of great importance in the complete absence of literary sources.

Places of interest
Nature in Kyrgyzstan, Reise nach Kirgisistan - nützliche Informationen, Travel to Kyrgyzstan - useful Information, Voyage au Kirghizstan - informations utiles, Viaggio in Kirghizistan - informazioni utili, Путешествие в Кыргызстан - полезная информация

Issyk Kul - Chon Kemin Gorge

Issyk Kul - Chon Kemin Gorge

The Chon Kemin Gorge and the valley of the same name are a unique nature reserve, not far from Issyk Kul and in the northern part of Kyrgyzstan. The valley is home to a national park. The Chon-Kemin is characterised by its length: In the eastern part it is a narrow gorge, in the middle part it gradually widens into a wide valley and closes again at the exit. The valley has an altitude of 1,400 metres in the lower part and rises to 2,800 metres in the upper part. The turbulent and raging river that flows through the gorge is 116 kilometres long and a popular destination for rafting fans. Overall, there is plenty to do for every hiker and cyclist and the area has much to offer for both hikers and cyclists.

Chon-Kemin lies between the largest mountain ranges of the northern Tien-Shan: Zailiisky Alatau on Kazakh territory and Kyungey Ala-Too on the northern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. The gorge is surrounded on both sides by high mountains, glaciers and Tyan-Shan coniferous forests. Chon-Kemin is also rich in lakes: there are seven lakes in the catchment area of the Chon-Kemin River, including the large Kel-Kogur (also called Kel-Tor by the locals) and the Jashil-Kel. There are numerous hiking trails in the gorge to the many mountain passes that connect Chon-Kemin with Issyk-Kul, including the most famous Kek-Airyk, hiking and horseback riding trails to the lakes, and a long bicycle route.

Places of interest
Red Mountain in Kyrgyzstan

Issyk Kul - Jety Oguz Gorge

Issyk Kul - Jety Oguz Gorge

The Jety Oguz Gorge (also Dzhety Oguz, Djety Oguz, etc.) is one of the most popular attractions in the Issyk-Kul region. It is located 30 km from Karakol and attracts many tourists, both locals and guests from abroad.

Jety-Oguz means “7 bulls” in Kyrgyz. The gorge got this special name because of the red clay massif, which is a kind of visiting card of the gorge. The rocks have a very light colour, which is a rarity in the Tien Shan Mountains.

Jety-oguz is also known for its balneological spas with radon and sulphur springs. The facility is located at an altitude of 2,200 metres and can accommodate up to 250 people at a time. These hot springs are used to treat diseases of the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system and the skin. It is also possible to take a preventive cure at the spa.

The Jety-oguz Gorge is quite long, almost 40 km, and there are many interesting places to visit in this vast area of the Issyk-Kul region. Widely known are the waterfalls of Jety-oguz, including the Maiden’s Spits waterfall, so called because of the bizarre shape of the water flowing down the cliff.

12 kilometres above the village is the Valley of Flowers, where the Cosmonauts’ Lodges are located. The name is by no means poetic – in the days of the Soviet Union, participants in space missions actually trained and recovered here. Many trees grow here and in May this small valley is covered with a carpet of poppies.

Numerous tourist routes lead through Jety-oguz. From here you can cross the Teleta Pass to the Karakol Gorge and Lake Ala-Kul, reach the Sarychat-Ertash nature reserve or admire the peaks of Oguz-Bashi and Zhukov.

Places of interest

Issyk Kul - Juuku Gorge

Issyk Kul - Juuku Gorge

The Juuku Gorge (also Zhukuu, Zauka) is the longest gorge (not far from Issyk Kul), in the Terskey Ala-Too mountain range and famous for its diverse nature, magnificent views and wide open spaces. It is located on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul, 70 kilometres from Karakol. Nowadays, Juuku Gorge mainly attracts tourists with its natural beauty, but in earlier times this place was part of the routes of numerous traders and travellers from different countries. At different times, Scythians, Chinese, ancient Turks, Nestorian Christians and, of course, the nomadic Kyrgyz found refuge here. Despite the difficult terrain of the gorge, Juuku was for a long time the only route from the Issyk-Kul Valley to China. The gorge also served as a bypass between the mountains and the western part of the Tien Shan. Juuku Gorge was visited by the famous monk Xuanzang, one of the main characters in the Chinese legend of Sun-Ukun, and also by the famous traveller Pyotr Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, who witnessed a terrible battle between the Bugu and Sarybagysh Kyrgyz tribes inhabiting the Issyk-Kul Valley.

The length of the gorge is due to its unusual shape: In the lower part, the gorge stretches strictly from north to south, while in the upper part it turns sharply to the west. Thus, the river flowing through the gorge reaches a record length of 55 km. The view in the gorge is very picturesque: red rocks, dense Tian Shan fir forest, several high-altitude lakes and a rugged river that meanders in winding zigzag lines through the valley floor. In the upper part, the gorge merges into a peculiar high mountain desert that connects with the famous Arabel Plateau, which is rich in lakes.

Numerous tourist routes lead through Juuku Gorge. It is very popular with hikers and cyclists. It is also a great place for a day trip or picnic.

Places of interest
issyk Kol - Kyrgyzstan

Issyk Kul Lake

Issyk Kul Lake

Lake Issyk-Kul (also Yssyk-Köl) is undoubtedly the country’s main attraction. Issyk-Kul is unique in every respect. The lake lies in the middle of the huge Issyk-Kul basin, which is located between two huge mountain ridges: Kyungey-Ala-Too and Terskei-Ala-Too, which occupy almost the entire area. At 1700 m above sea level, Issyk Kul is the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. The maximum depth of the lake is 702 metres, making it one of the deepest lakes in the world. The shoreline of the lake is almost 700 km long, a clear indication of its size. The lake’s abundance is fed by numerous glacial rivers flowing down from the slopes of the Tien Shan – there are more than 80 of them.

The water in Issyk-Kul is salty and does not freeze even in winter. That’s where the lake got its name: Issyk-Kul means “hot lake” in Kyrgyz. The lake provides a special maritime climate in the valley, which is very unusual for high mountains and Central Asia as a whole. For example, winters here are much milder than in other parts of the country, while summers, by contrast, are not so hot. The waters of Issyk-Kul warm up to 20-25 degrees Celsius in summer, making the lake a popular bathing spot for Kyrgyz and tourists from other countries.

The shores of the lake are geographically very diverse. The western part of the river consists of dry and sandy terrain with little vegetation and a low water level. Closer to the centre, the lake becomes much wider and the deepest parts of the Issyk-Kul are here. In this section, the opposite shore is barely visible and the lake looks more like a real sea. In the eastern part, on the other hand, the lake is somewhat fresher due to the numerous tributaries. The shores of the lake here are marshy and grassy, with many small islands, coves, etc. The water level is lowest here.

The shores of Issyk-Kul are not only geographically but also culturally very different. The north shore of the lake is traditionally more visited and developed for tourism, as it has a smooth shoreline and good beaches, which is not the case on the south shore. On the north shore of Issyk-Kul there are numerous guesthouses, hotels and recreation houses that welcome guests all year round. The places near the town of Cholpon-Ata and the village of Bosteri are particularly popular. The north coast, however, is more suitable for a relatively passive holiday. There are not so many geographical attractions, but all the conditions for complete relaxation on the shores of the lake are there. Families and groups of friends would feel at home here.

The southern shore of Issyk-Kul, on the other hand, is more deserted and quiet. While there are not as many beaches, there are many different sights untouched by humans. The reason for this is that the southern shore is close to the Terskey Ala-Too Mountains. Therefore, the coastline is very rugged and the bottom is very rocky. The western part of the south shore is dominated by clay gorges and parched mountains and hills. The landscape only changes in the middle, when the mountains come as close as possible to the coast. The southern shore is suitable for those seeking solitude, nature experiences and “wild” recreation away from civilisation and noise.

Issyk Kul has an old and rich history. The first written mention of the lake dates back to the II century B.C. The primitive people lived on its shores. The prehistoric people lived on its shores and left numerous rock carvings that can still be seen today. Ancient Scythian tribes, whose main village of Chigu now lies beneath the lake, also lived there. Nestorian monks who brought the relics of St. Matthew to the shores of the lake found shelter here (their exact location is still one of Issyk-Kul’s greatest mysteries). More modern attractions include the city of Karakol, known for its architecture, and the Rukh-Ordo cultural centre in Cholpon-Ata. Every two years, the World Nomad Games, the world’s most important ethnic sports competition, also take place on the shores of the lake.

Places of interest

Issyk-Kul - Canyon Fairytale

Issyk-Kul - Canyon Fairytale

The Canyon “Fairytale” (or Canyon Skazka) gorge is is a small gorge on the southern shore of Issyk-Kul, famous for its red clay cliffs. The Canyon is located about 120 kilometres from Balykchy, near the village of Tosor.

The Canyon “Fairytale” is a very popular place with tourists. The reason is the easy accessibility of the canyon and its breathtaking landscapes and contrasts. The thousands of years of soil erosion have done the rest, creating a multitude of bizarre stone and clay figures in the Canyon. The canyon is made up of colourful clay, minerals and rocks that enhance the scenic beauty of the place.

Some of the natural sculptures in the canyon have their own names. The most striking is the “Great Wall of China”, which is very reminiscent of the famous Chinese architectural monument. In addition, there is practically no snowfall in winter, so you can experience the fairy tale in all its glory at any time of year. The Canyon “Fairytale” is very close to the Issyk-Kul road and lakeshore, making it a good choice for a holiday or picnic.

Places of interest

Karakalpakstan - Ayaz Kala Fortress 2

Karakalpakstan - Ayaz Kala Fortress 2

Ayaz Kala Fortress №2 is located on a natural hill, in the southern part of Ayazkol and in the eastern part of Pashahaykum Sands, at the eastern end of Sultan-Uvays Mountain, about 20.5 kilometres north and slightly east of Bustan settlement, 19.5 kilometres north and slightly west of the settlement of Shark-Yulduzi, 19.4 kilometres northwest of the settlement of Jambaskala and 42.3 kilometres northeast of the town of Beruni in the district of Ellikala in the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

The Ayaz Kala fortress in Karakalpakstan was surveyed by S.P. Tolstov in 1939 and dated to the first century AD. In 1971, the excavation was carried out. The monument is built on a natural conical hill with a height of about 30 metres above the level of the surrounding takyrs and has a complex construction.

The north and south walls of the fortress are parallel. The eastern part has the shape of a semi-oval. The western part is rounded so that the north-western corner protrudes slightly. The main part of the fortress has a cross-section from south to north of 36 metres and from west to east of 65 metres.

An entrance complex adjoins the south side of the main castle. It projects about 20 metres to the south and is 31 metres long. The lower part of the walls, 3.35-3.85 metres high, is built of pahsa (rammed earth, a material used for earthen buildings in Western and Central Asia). The upper part of the walls is built of 37-37 x 37-38 x 8-9 cm solid bricks.

The inclination of the lower part of the walls to the base is 85°. The upper part of the oval castle is decorated all around with half columns. They project 0.40-0.45 m from the plane of the walls. The length of the half-columns along the façade is 1.55-1.60 metres.

The height of the half-columns is 2.4 to 3.7 metres. The surface of each half-column is decorated with five artificial embrasures. The upper part of the half-pillars has not been preserved. At the base of the half-pillars along the entire circumference of the walls are embrasures with a rectangular outline.

The embrasures are arranged every two half-pillars. The width of the openings is 0.18 metres. The height of the embrasures is about 0.85 metres. The embrasures have a floor angle of 35°. The bottom of the embrasure is 0.78 to 0.80 metres above the bottom of the firing lane.

Half of the embrasure leading to the firing line has a flat tile floor made of clay bricks. The overlap of the other part of the embrasure is parallel to the floor. Along the outer wall of the fort is a 2.32 m wide gun portico.

The width of the inner wall is 1.23 metres. In the middle of the westernmost part of the hilltop, at the highest point, there is a circular depression with a diameter of about 15 metres and a depth of 3.3 metres.

The lowest edges of the excavation are sandstone outcrops with iron concretions. Two test pits located between the mainland and the ground level reveal layers of mud bricks up to 2.7 metres thick, measuring 38 – 40 x 38 – 40 x 8 – 10 cm, filled with sand.

The thickness of the masonry used to level the slopes increases towards the castle walls. The levelling of the hillsides was necessary for the construction of a small castle on the hilltop.

The excavations also indicate that the entire castle area was probably covered by relatively narrow, corridor-shaped rooms. The ceilings were probably vaulted. The walls are up to 0.7 metres thick.

The maximum height of the walls is 0.7 metres. The cultural layer of the floor consists of the soft golden mass in the lower part and a layer of dung. The corridors and the living area cut into a depression in the middle of the castle, which testifies to the later foundation of the castle.

6.4 metres east of the bend in the north wall is an arch opening 2 metres wide and 3.5 metres long. The vault is made of trapezoidal brick. The rectangular entrance complex adjoins the south wall.

In its east wall are 9 shallow slab embrasures spaced 0.88 to 1.8 metres apart. The entrance slots are 0.11-0.19 metres wide. Their height is 0.97 to 1.10 metres. The angle of incidence is 300.

Some of the embrasures have the same height of entrance and exit openings. On the eastern wall there is an open talus slope 1.25 metres wide. The western part looks like a tower, which is offset by 8 metres. The entrance complex is a structure in front of the entrance.

The remains of a ramp 50 to 55 metres long have been preserved on the western slope. The width of the ramp is 2 metres and the total width is 3.1 metres. The angle of the ramp is between 15 and 200 metres. At its eastern end, it meets a rectangular tower measuring 9 x 8 metres.

It is 5 to 6 metres from the west wall of the entrance complex. The cantilever tower with the entrance complex by the bascule bridge. The ceramic material is represented by pottery and stucco vessels dating from the second half of the VII century and the first half of the VIII century.

In the XII – early XIII century, 6 rooms were built along the northern wall. In the entrance complex, the upper part of the southern wall and the western tower were built of rough bricks measuring 26 x 26 x 4 – 5 cm at a height of 3.3 metres.

The entire complex in the south-eastern corner was filled with continental sand taken from a pit in the middle of the castle. Several rooms were built in the western part of the entrance complex.

The extensive fortress on a flat hill, possibly built in the IVth century BC, was reinforced five centuries later, during the Kushan Empire, by an amazing castle on a steep hill 60 metres high to make the climb, difficult for a man on foot even in an easy position.

The walls of Ayaz-kala faced all four cardinal directions, and the single entrance, fronted by an elaborate labyrinth, was built to the south so that the south wind would blow dust and rubbish out of the city.

According to local legend, in times of great unrest, when the old ruler died and there was no one to take his place, it was predicted by the priests to the assembled crowd that whoever would chase a royal falcon on his arm would be elected the new Shah.

However, the bird did not land on the arm but on the head of a common soldier, and when they drove it away, it returned to the same spot for the second time. The people crowned the warrior who personally supervised the building of a new castle on the hill and ruled in it long and justly.

In order not to forget his origins, the warrior of yesterday and king of today ordered an old, worn boot to be hung in a prominent place in front of the throne.

The legend indirectly confirms that new forts and palaces were built with extraordinary ease in ancient Khorezm during the succession of ruling dynasties. From the top of Ayaz-kala Mountain, there is a view of the lake of the same name, Ayazkol, whose waters are so salty that in summer they seem to be covered by a crust of ice.

To the north, the silhouette of the nearest castle, Kyrkkyz-Kala, is barely visible on the horizon. There, archaeologists found an amazing burial according to the rites of the ancient fire worshippers – the parts of a human skeleton, cleaned by the sun and birds of prey, were placed in a ceramic jar – humming in the shape of a woman’s head.

Places of interest

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Ayaz Kala 1

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Ayaz Kala 1

The fortress of Ayaz Kala 1 is located on a natural hill 170.9 metres above sea level, in the southern part of the salt marshes of Ayazkol and in the drainage part of the sands of Pashahaykum, 21 kilometres north and slightly east of the settlement of Bustan, 19.9 kilometres north and slightly west of the settlement of Shark Yulduzi, 19.5 kilometres northwest of the settlement of Jambaskala and 42.7 kilometres northeast of the town of Beruni in the district of Ellikala in the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

The fortress was surveyed by A.I. Terenozhkin in 1937. In 1939 and 1946, the study of the monument was continued by S. P. Tolstov. In 1968 – 1970, the State Art Museum of the ASSR Karakalpakstan carried out additional measurements and cleanings in the Fortress of Ayaz Kala 1.

The fortress is 182 m x 152 m and has a quadrangular shape with sides aligned with the cardinal directions. It was built on a flat hilltop and is surrounded on three sides by metre-high precipices.

There is no internal division. The walls, up to 10 metres high in some places, were built on the mainland of mud bricks, with dimensions of 32 – 46 x 32 – 46 x 10 – 13 cm. The external wall thickness at ground level is 2.4 metres, the internal wall thickness 2.1 metres. The inclination of the outer wall surface to the foundation is 86°.

Between the walls there is a 2.5 m wide blind passage without skylights and embrasures, which is covered with a box vault. The vault has a height of 1.87 metres. The vault has a trapezoidal brick.

The vault is coated with clay mortar on the inside. The empty corridor has a joint for the floor. In the north wall, directly behind the second tower from the northeast corner, there is an arched corridor, 1.55 metres wide and 1.42 metres high.

The first row of the vault is of trapezoidal bricks, the second row is of masonry bricks. The doorway is in the south wall and is concealed by a rectangular curtain wall structure that cantilevers 37 metres.

Its entrance is in the east wall. The sides of the gate have a passage leading to a blind corridor between the walls. The best preserved passage is in the north wall. The best-preserved passage in the north wall is 1.14 m wide and 1.8 m high.

It is vaulted. There are semi-oval towers on the outer walls. The curtain walls are 13.8 metres in the east and west walls, 11.5 metres in the north wall and 9-15 metres in the south wall, because of the precursor.

The towers are bifurcated at the corners by a dovetail. The towers are 8.4 metres wide and 8.15 metres projecting. The corners of the gatekeepers are as long as the angle bisector, 7.5 metres long and 6.5 metres wide.

There is a shooting gallery above a deaf corridor. The two towers of the north wall are just above the floor of the shooting range. The upper parts of the fortress walls, the keep and the two towers on the north wall have embrasures, the average distance between them is 1.5 metres.

The embrasures have the shape of an arrow. They are 13 and 20 centimetres wide and 0.48 m high at the entrances and 2.9 and 3.5 metres at the exits. The embrasures have a shaft angle of 48° or 54°. The embrasures are covered with tiles, which are housed in a hipped roof.

There are seven embrasures in the northern, western and eastern walls, four of which are sloping. The towers each have 8 embrasures. Around the third to fifth towers on the north wall, counting from the northeast corner, near the southwest corner of the gatehouse and the fortification itself are piles of bricks that were prepared for construction but not used.

The bricks are piled up with sand. Unfinished towers, but not built to the full height of the wall; bricks still in use and the complete absence of any traces of construction indicate that the fortification was not completed.

The monument was dated by some pottery finds in the materials of the lower layer of the Koy-Krylgan kala and could be dated to the IV-III century BC. The bronze three-edged arrowhead with the hidden socket was found during clearing work in front of the gate building.

It has elongated proportions. The inscription in Choresmian, consisting of three characters, was uncovered on the north side of the gate. In the 12th and early 13th centuries, minor alterations were made in the south-eastern corner of the fortress.

Places of interest

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Ayaz Kala 3

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Ayaz Kala 3

Fortress Ayaz Kala 3 is located on a natural hill, lies in the southern part of the Ayazkol salt marsh and in the drainless part of the Pashahaykum sand, 20.1 kilometres north and slightly east of the settlement of Bustan, 19.4 km northeast of the settlement of Shark-Yulduzi, 18.8 km northwest of the settlement of Jambaskala and 41.9 km northeast of the town of Beruni in the Ellikala district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

The fortress of Ayaz Kala 3 was first explored in 1939-1940 by the Karakalpakstan and Khorezm archaeological expedition led by S.P. Tolstov. Three settlements stand out among the large group of sites. The first is Ayaz-kala Fortress No. 3, with minarets and labyrinths, surrounded by a thick wall. Inside the fortress are the remains of a spacious palace.

The archaeologist S.P. Tolstov, in his book “In the Footsteps of the Ancient Khorezmian Civilisation. Part 1.” (1948): “Folk legend associates this fortress with the name of a hero, a slave Ayaz, who won the hand of the princess who lived in the Kyrk-kyz fortress with her forty friends.

The image of the brave and wise slave giant Ayaz is one of the oldest images in Central Asian Turkic folklore. A Kazakh legend recorded in the Lower Syr Darya links this image to legendary events that foretold the formation of the Aral Sea, the disappearance of the Ustyurt Channel of the Amu Darya and the formation of ancient Khorezm.

According to this legend, there was no Aral Sea in earlier times, and the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers, which merged, flowed into the Caspian Sea through Lauzan, Kunya-Urgench and Aibugir. At the site of the Aral Sea lived the Adagy people, ruled by the cruel and treacherous Fasyl Khan, and on the territory along the Uzboys lived the Baysyn people, led by Ayaz Khan, a former slave, who had become the ruler of the state because of his wisdom and justice.

Due to the terrible crimes of Fasyl-khan, who dishonoured the daughter of a saint, the waters flooded the entire kingdom of Fasyl at his prayer. The Aral Sea was formed at this point and the two great rivers began to flow into it.

Their old bed dried up, and the people of Baisyn, led by Ayaz-khan, moved to Khorezm and founded the kingdom called Urgench. Adagiys and all its cities died under water, and even now, on clear days, traces of their buildings can be seen at the bottom of the Aral Sea…”.

We encounter the image of the slave Ayaz in the XVII century in “Genealogy of the Turkmen” by Abulgazi”. Laconical evidence of the existence of the image of Ayaz already in the XI century we find in the “Dictionary” of Mahmud Kashgari who writes: “Ayaz is the name of a slave”. Apparently, this is not a specific name for slaves in general, but a personal name of a slave that was well known to the Turks, the informants of this outstanding early medieval linguist.

The settlement of Ayaz-kala is a unique historical monument – the ruins of an ancient fortress from the Kushan period. The fortress was built in the III-II century BC during the heyday of the Kushan culture.

The fortress served as a military fortification and protected the borders of the kingdom. The site chosen for the construction of the fortress still amazes with its detailed elaboration. The building stands on a flat hilltop 60 metres high.

The double walls of the Ayaz Kala fortress, built of mud bricks, are aligned with the four cardinal directions. The outer wall, which has survived to the present day, is 10 metres high and about 2.5 metres thick.

The entrance to the fortress (south side) is protected by a labyrinth. The entrance has a special feature – it was built so that the south winds could blow dust and debris away from the fortress.

Places of interest
Karakalpakstan - Fortezza Janpik Kala

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Janpik Kala

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Janpik Kala

The fortress Janpik Kala is located southwest of the Sultan-Uwais mountain range and northwest of the small Aktau mountain range, 564 metres from the right (northern) bank of the Amu Darya River, 8.3 kilometres southeast of the village of Karatau and 10.4 east and slightly north of the village of Kuyuk Kupir in the northeastern part of the Baday-Tugay reserve in the Qorauzak district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

The fortress is dated to X – XI century, XIII – XIV century AD. It is one of the picturesque monuments of the right bank of the Amudarya, bordering the northern part of the Lower Amudarya Biosphere Reserve.

The vast area of the reserve is to the south on the other side of the Kok Darya River. The distance from the town of Beruniy on a straight road through the settlement of Aktau is 51 kilometres, on the main paved road it is 77 kilometres.

The historical fortress of Janpik Kala is located 7.1 kilometres southeast of the fortress of Gyaur Kala and can be reached by the same route. In plan, the fortress has a complex construction.

In the eastern part, the citadel is preserved in the form of rectangular pahsa walls.

The walls are decorated with grouped half-columns and the tops end in pairs with stepped arches. Archaeological excavations are used to establish the chronology of the fortress. The oldest pottery dates from the 4th century BC. – I. century AD.

The date of the last occupation of the fortified stronghold is determined by coins from 1319-1320 and 1345-1346. Numerous artefacts previously brought from various countries in the East and West (China, Egypt, Russia, Europe and India) are found in the excavations.

The hill served as a river port city in the Middle Ages. On the outskirts of Janpik-Kala, you can see the endless expanses of the Baday Tugai Reserve. S.P. Tolstov, a prominent researcher of Khorezm history who discovered dozens of unique ancient settlements along the lower reaches of the Amudarya River in the 1930s and 1950s, believed that the fortress of Janpik-Kala at the foot of the Sultan Uvaysdag Mountains (commonly known as “Karatau”) was the most beautiful and exotic archaeological site in this area of Karakalpakstan.

Closer to the riverbank, on one of its peaks, one suddenly discovers the sharp top of a tall clay tower, clearly man-made, albeit crumbling. The watchtower, visible from the Nukus-Beruni highway, pointed towards the fortress, which was separated from the banks of the Amudarya River by a green strip of the Baday Tugay Reserve, a realm of waterfowl, pheasants, wild cats, jackals and a refuge of noble Bukhara deer.

Located directly on the border between desert foothills and impenetrable Tugai forest, the fortress once closed a strategically important passage between the waterless mountains and a navigable river whose fertile silt formed the basis for the emergence of agricultural civilisation two thousand years before Christ.

Here, on the naturally irrigated coastal areas, the first sedentary culture developed in close contact with the hunting and nomadic peoples – first from the Urals, then from the Scythian tribes of the Saks and Massagetae.

Later, the interactions between nomads and peasants were extremely complex and dynamic. They engaged in fierce feuds with each other, at the same time exchanging information for mutual benefit and joining forces to repel the conquerors together.

According to archaeologists, the oldest pottery remains in the vicinity of Janpik-Kala can be dated to around the IVth century BC, when Khoresm had already gained freedom from the Persian Achaemenid Empire and escaped the conquests of Alexander the Great.

It was the time when the most stable dynasty of local rulers from the legendary Afridi family established itself on the right bank of the Amudarya, which maintained a relative independence from the great powers of antiquity until the early Middle Ages.

Scholars date the construction of the surviving mighty fortress walls of Janpik-Kala to the IX-XIII centuries AD, when a wave of Arab conquests had already spread throughout Central Asia.

For the right bank of Khorezm, it was still the Afridi period. Qutayba ibn Muslim, who conquered the fragmented principalities of Bukhara and Sogdiana in 709, waited according to his preferred tactics until internal unrest broke out in Khorezm, started in 712 by the governor’s rebellious son, Hurrzad.

Hurrzad, contrasted the old aristocracy with dependence on the poor, infected with sectarian sentiments, almost like the fifth century, Mazdak’s time in Sassanid Iran. After Qutayba’s first campaign, the people revolted again and killed the ruler, and the Arabs had to return to put his loyal son Ascajamuk II on the throne, who recognised vassalage dependence on the khalifate.

It was only towards the end of the eighth century that his grandson Shaushaffar adopted the Islamic name Abdallah. When the dynasty of the Mamunid Arab viceroys had already established itself on the left bank of the Amu Darya, the last of the Afridi ruled on the right bank, in ancient Kyat, until the end of the Xth century. Century.

The fortress of Janpik Kala in Karakalpakstan, whose massive conical bastions and double walls are easily recognisable as a medieval fortress, apparently dates from this period. The remains of the high walls of the inner citadel, decorated with the image of ancient columns, preserve the kinship with the architecture of the famous palace and fortress buildings of the thousand-year-old Afridi Empire, which preceded the fortress at the foot of Karatau by five to seven centuries.

The building material in the region has not changed during this time. Like the huge Ayaz-Kala and Toprak-Kala near ancient Kyat (“Kas”), the relatively small citadel of Janpik is built of pahsa – large blocks of compacted clay.

Only the wall bases and entrance arches were fortified in some places with stone masonry made of unhewn boulders, and even that probably not because of the change in building traditions, but because there was enough stone in the neighbouring mountains.

In the late XI century, the Great Khorezm Shah Dynasty came to power in Khorezm, whose founder Kutbitdin Muhammad I achieved de facto independence from the Seljuk sultans. His descendant Ala ad-Din Tekesh repelled the Karakitay invasion and almost ascended the throne of the Baghdad Khalifs.

His son Muhammad II ruled a vast empire stretching from Kashgar to the Caucasus and the Persian Gulf. This empire was devastated by the invasion of the hordes of Genghis Khan. However, the last archaeological finds within the walls of Janpik-Kala date from around the forties of the XIV century.

This may indicate that the fortress and river port on the banks of the Amu Darya River was not subjected to final destruction under the Mongols, who did not survive the aftermath when the rulers of the Temurid Empire competed with the khans of the Golden Horde for Khorezm.

It is also possible that the fortress of Janpik-Kala was abandoned and fell into disrepair when the wayward river diverted its course far from its walls and gave birth to what is now a wonder of nature – a many-kilometre-long strip of floodplain forests of Baday-Tugai in Karakalpakstan, whose protected status today protects the tranquillity and secrets of this fairytale place.

Currently, the monument is a historical and archaeological site for cultural and hiking tours.

Places of interest
Fortress Koy Krylgan Kala

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Koy Krylgan Kala

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Koy Krylgan Kala

Fortress Koy Krylgan Kala is located on a natural hill 100.6 metres above sea level, in the northern part of the Kyzylkum desert, 17.7 kilometres southeast of the village of Ellikala, 17.4 kilometres southwest of the village of Jumbaskala, 31.3 kilometres east and slightly north of the town of Beruni in the Ellikala district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

Thousands of forts are scattered across the endless expanses of the Khorezm steppe. The ruins of the Dead Sheep Fortress of Koy-Krylgan-Kala are truly unique. The fortress was found by chance in 1938 by archaeologists from the Choresm expedition.

In 1950, a new stage of excavations began on the ruins of the fortress. This revealed that the fortress had gone through two stages of development. The earlier stage belonged to the IV-III centuries B.C. The second stage of its life was in the first centuries after Christ.

It was discovered that in the early stage of development, the central part of the fortress was destroyed by fire. To this day it remains a mystery whether it was an accident or intentional. Koy-Krylgan-kala (the Fortress of the Perished Sheep), a remarkable monument of Khorezmian antiquity, is characterised by high mastery of the ancient craftsmen.

The temple of the burial and astral cults Koy-Krylgan-kala existed for several centuries from the IV century BC to the III-IV century AD. The central building of Koy-Krylgan-kala is round in plan, a monumental structure crowned by a gallery with a series of small weapon embrasures.

The diameter of the building at the base was 44.5 metres, and the thickness of the walls ranged from 7 to 6 metres. The walls are built of pakhsa and mud bricks. The premises form the cruciform figure in the plan. All eight rooms on the lower floor were blocked by double vaults.

They were probably for special cultic purposes, while the upper rooms contained food or sacrificial offerings and temple utensils as well as terracotta images of deities and were probably used for cultic ceremonies.

Small cult terracottas, miniature vessels, rhytons and pottery decorated with mythological motifs were found here, which were typical of the burial inventory. The building itself was surrounded by a double ring of fortified walls, and towers were built between the walls.

Two of the towers had interior chambers facing each other, separated from the corridor by rough walls made of 1-metre-thick mud bricks, which meant that the towers could only be entered by a short flight of stairs.

Loopholes opened into the towers from the courtyard. As a result of the excavations of the Koy Krylgan Kala, two main periods of its existence were identified, separated by significant intervals of time.

The purpose of the monument was different in each period, as reflected in the type of finds, the use of the premises, etc. At the beginning of the new era, this towering palace was an observatory, a kind of astronomical centre of Khorezm.

An astrolabe, an angular instrument, was found here, which was also used to observe the sun and other celestial bodies. The findings of terracotta representations of deities and statuary ossuaries (an ossuary is a clay box, a bone store in which the bones of the dead were cleaned of outer wrappings according to Zoroastrian rites and crowned with a human figure) and the analysis of the ground plan of the central building led to the conclusion that Anahita and Siyavush – the most popular deities of ancient Khorezm – were worshipped here.

Researchers believe that the equal worship of the sun and the water element, which the ancient Choresmians embodied, is the reason for the design of the Koy-Krylgan-kala, which is based on solar symbols – a circle and a cross.

Statuary ossuaries depicting figures of female and male deities embodying people’s reverence for their deceased ancestors are remarkable monuments of ancient Khorezmian art.

The figures, sometimes executed almost life-size, are a realistic representation of the anthropological type of people, their clothing and headgear. The appearance of ossuaries in the form of ancient statues in Khorezm testifies to the persistence of the tradition.

Fragments of about 10 ceramic funerary statues were excavated at Koy-Krylgan Qala. The figures, which differ in size, reproduce the image of the same type. For example, all the female images show a young woman sitting in a static, solemn pose.

Sometimes the legs of thrones are depicted on the ossuaries, and adjustments are made to fit small canopies. The funerary sculptures are stylistically similar to statuettes, which are thought to represent deities.

Scholars believe that the statuary ossuaries represent the dead in the form of a chthonic deity – most likely Ardvisura Anahita, they convey an image that belongs to the concept of the great goddess, the mother of all living beings and the mistress of the realm of the dead.

Statuary ossuaries depicting a seated man were also found. They probably conveyed the image of Siyavush – the god of dying and resurrecting nature, who was closely associated with the cult of the dead.

There were ossuaries that reproduced monumental structures. In the ruins of Koy-Krylgan-kala 2 (a few dozen metres from the main monument), an ossuary was found that resembles a rectangular structure with slightly rounded walls that diverge upwards, imitating a tent.

This ossuary may have replicated the appearance of a tent erected during burial ceremonies in earlier times. The immediate prototype of this form may have been the crypt structures.

Such was the prevalence of this Zoroastrian burial rite with the belief system of the Zoroastrian circle, the worship of ancestor worship, that the remains of statuary ossuaries have been found in the ruins of many rural dwellings of the period under consideration.

Almost every one of these dwellings had a room that looked like a domestic prayer room and was intended for the performance of rites of ancestor worship in front of the statuary ossuaries standing there. The terracotta figures of gods and goddesses worshipped by the ancient Choresmians were executed with no less skill than the ossuaries.

Among them is the aforementioned Anahita, the Great Mother Goddess, usually depicted in a wide robe with many folds. Horse figures symbolised the sun deity Mitra or Siyavush.

Finds of the image of the god Dionysus as a naked man with a bunch of grapes in one hand and a curved vine knife in the other are reminiscent of another cult – the Bacchic, which also took place at this time.

Finds of magnificent ceramic vessels with relief depictions of hunting scenes, courtly life, figures from ancient Khorezm mythology or the epic “Tree of Life” with fallow deer complete the picture of the state of art development in Khorezm in the 4th to 3rd centuries BC and somewhat later.

The motifs on the clay and stone seals are reminiscent of motifs in Scythian art from the same or a somewhat earlier period. These include depictions of a vulture, a bird or a deer in a flying gallop and so on.

The high level of culture of Khorezm in the middle of the 1st millennium BC is evidenced by the development of writing with Aramaic script. The earliest written documents in the ancient Khorezm language were found during excavations of the Koy-Krylgan Kala and dated to the 3rd-2nd centuries BC.

The inscriptions were made with ink or a sharp instrument on vessels and terracotta. One of them, carved into the wall of a hum, reads “Aspabarak” or “Aspabadak” (“Riding a horse”).

Places of interest

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Kyrkkyz kala

Karakalpakstan - Fortress Kyrkkyz kala

Fortress Kyrkkyz kala (“forty girls”) is located on the natural hill, 94.6 metres above sea level, in the south-eastern part of Ayazkol salt marsh, in the northern part of Bilkum sand, 8.8 kilometres north-east of Kyrkkyz village, 15.2 kilometres northwest of the settlement of Kokcha, 12.8 kilometres north and slightly west of the settlement of Jambaskala, and 28 kilometres northeast of the settlement of Ellikkala in the Ellikala district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

The fortress of Kyrkkyz Kala from the I-6th century AD is located outside the town and was probably a country residence of the rulers. This fortress was already known in the III-IV century. The Kyrkkyz Kala (Small) fortress is the same age as Kyrkkyz Kala (Large).

The fortress was fortified in the V-VI centuries and the old walls were surrounded on all sides with a new wall of baked bricks. The two-storey minarets built into the walls of the fortress have double-row scrolls for firing.

In the middle of the north gate, just before the entrance, was a labyrinth. There is a version that a fortified entrance may have been in the southern part of the fortress. The fort was built of mud bricks on a small stone mound.

The settlement was discovered in 1938 during archaeological excavations. Its dimensions are 65x63x65 metres and it had two floors with arrow windows in the outer wall. According to the researchers, the fortress was built to protect the northeastern borders of ancient Choresm.

Archaeologists have found burials in the fortress that were made according to the rites of ancient fire worshippers. Human bones were placed in ceramic jars – bumblebees shaped like a woman’s head. This fortress was once a trading post on the Great Silk Road. The fortress was built of mud bricks with the addition of clay, and the vaulted ceilings were made of burnt bricks.

According to the excavations, it is believed that the fortress was divided into four parts. The northwestern and northeastern parts each had 5 rooms connected only by a corridor. The south-western part also had five rooms, but there were only two corridors.

The south-eastern part had two rooms and a corridor. The other part of the residence had a reception room where the dervishes prayed. The interior of the residence was not distinguished by lavish decoration.

The sophistication of the interior is characterised by different shapes and technologies of the masonry of the window openings and arched openings. The excavated remains of clay and bricks indicate that they were used in the construction of the castle.

According to the layout of the castle, there were many small rooms and a large burnt brick room along the north wall. Between 30 and 50 metres from the south wall was a multi-roomed building in which iron remains, slag waste and an iron smelting furnace were found.

In the southeast of the fortress, the remains of an iron workshop measuring 12 by 13 metres were found, dating to the VII-VIII century AD. In 1984, a ceramic jar full of copper coins was found in the plain near the Kyrkkyz Kala fortress in Karakalpakstan.

The coins had been corroded by moisture and salt. Only one of the coins has retained its appearance. During cleaning, a bas-relief of the ruler of Khoresm without a beard was found on the obverse of the coin.

The crown on the ruler’s head is depicted as the rising sun and the new moon is shown above the sun. Siyavush is depicted on the reverse of the coin. In the foreground of Siyavush, a woman is depicted playing a stringed instrument similar to a dutar.

The woman is wearing a light dress and a duzi duppi (a headdress for Khorezm women), which was worn on formal occasions. Siyavush’s face is not visible and the horse is shown moving.

The woman is depicted as a beautiful, tastefully dressed queen. The composition on the coin suggests that Khorezmian women in the pre-Islamic period dressed beautifully and mastered the art of dancing and singing and played musical instruments perfectly.

The image of a ruler without a beard and the ancient Khorezm inscriptions on the coin suggest that the coin was minted in the 5th-6th century (in his work “Ancient Khorezm), S. P. Tolstov states that ancient Khorezm coins depicting rulers without beards date from the 5th-6th century AD).

The name of the fortress means “forty girls”. According to legend, the fortress was the home of the brave Queen Gulayim and her forty companions. These brave women fought against fearsome enemies.

Places of interest

Karakalpakstan - Toprak Kala Fortress

Karakalpakstan - Toprak Kala Fortress

Toprak Kala fortress is located 212 metres west of the Nukus – Khorezm highway, 3.6 kilometres north and slightly west of Shark Yulduzi settlement, 12.3 kilometres northwest of Bustan settlement and 26.9 kilometres north and slightly east of Beruni settlement in Ellikala district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

The Toprak Kala fortress is located Just a few kilometres from Urgench in the direction of the city of Khiva, where the palace of the Khorezmshakhs was located in the III-IV century AD. The ancient fortress is now a construction of rectangular shape, whose dimensions are 350 × 500 metres.

Despite numerous destructions, the height of the fortress walls reaches almost ten metres in some places. Of the entire complex, only the south-eastern corner of the fortress is well preserved, but even this gives us an idea of the size of the oldest building.

In 1940, exploratory work was carried out on the fortress: a large stratigraphic pit was made in the south-eastern part of the town, its plan was compiled, excavation material was collected.

In 1950, a small excavation was laid out on the western fortification wall. Then there was a pause in the work on the monument, which was not resumed until 1965 and lasted for three years until 1975.

The Toprak Kala settlement covers an area of 500 by 350 metres. Rectangular in plan, it is surrounded by fortress walls that are preserved in the form of shafts, reaching 8-9 metres in some places.

The walls had numerous square towers with rounded corners and a wide ditch. It is noted that the fortifications of the city underwent significant reconstruction.

Originally, it was a fortification with a two-storey corridor with a vaulted basement and arrow-shaped embrasures on the upper floor. The outer wall of the rampart was decorated with lobes and niches between the lobes.

After reconstruction, the ground floor of the corridor was walled up and converted into a six-metre-high plinth, into which the earlier towers were also walled up. The walls of the one-storey gallery were replaced by shallow slit windows with cavities and lobes. The new towers had a semicircular shape.

In the middle of the southern wall, the entrance to the citadel, was a complex gatehouse, which was also rebuilt. From it throughout the city to the citadel, which was in the northwest corner of the fortress, ran a central street about 9 metres wide; it divided the city into two parts, which in turn were divided by side streets about 4.5 metres wide into 5 square blocks of 100×40 metres.

Excavations were carried out in two quarters, marked A and B, located in the western half of the city. Layers dating from the 2nd to the 6th century AD were uncovered; however, judging by the presence of certain types of coins of Choresmian coinage and pottery, the site of the settlement must have been covered by the earlier layers.

Three horizons are distinguished in the stratigraphic layers of the settlement. The upper quarter has not been preserved. One of the quarters, A, was found to be completely occupied by the temple buildings that had traditionally been erected there throughout the history of the city.

The total temple area was 42 x 42 metres. Inside it were three buildings built according to the same plan: a chain of rooms with wooden thresholds and door frames stretched from west to east.

One of them, the large Building I, which measured 35 x 18 metres and faced the street between Blocks A and B, consisted of three large rooms measuring 11 x 4 metres. Its walls were up to 3 metres thick.

Finally, the western and apparently most important room, one of the walls had an arched hearth niche and other architectural features, it was a temple of fire. In the other building, called Building II, the horns of a ram khar were found, decorated with gilded bronze bracelets, around which numerous offerings were placed on the floor – shards and whole glass vessels, jewellery, beads, pendants, rings, etc.

A fragment of a painted alabaster sculpture representing a person was also found, as well as fragments of gold foil, etc. Both buildings have been dated to the IV-VI century, but Building II is from a later period within the above time interval.

In the residential block, a multi-room dwelling was uncovered, which included living rooms, storerooms, courtyards, etc. Traces of handicrafts were recorded in the premises facing the side and middle streets.

Especially in the early period of the city’s existence, there were workshops (or workshop) for making bows. As a result of the excavations at the site of the ancient city, we have obtained diverse and rich material that allows us to characterise in detail the hitherto little-studied Kushan-Afrikid culture of ancient Khorezm, as well as to provide important information about the history of the ancient cities of Khorezm.

The main body of the palace was built on a mud-brick base into which the northern and western city walls extended. It had the shape of a truncated pyramid with a height of 14.3 metres and a base area of 80 x 80 metres.

Soon three more arrays were added on plinths up to 25 metres high, with areas of 35 x 35 metres, 40 x 35 metres and 35 x 20 metres. The outer walls of the original palace project 1.5 metres beyond the edge of the platform.

Over a considerable distance they are washed away, but where further massifs adjoin they remain up to a height of 7.5 metres before crumbling away, probably at least 9 metres. The façades were decorated with a system of vertical projections and niches and covered with alabaster whitewash.

The entrance was on the east side with a flight of steps around the entrance tower. About 100 partially preserved rooms on the first floor of the central body and some rooms on the second floor. The walls of the rooms were preserved to their full height in the peripheral areas and covered with applied plinths, but in the central part of the complex they were largely washed away.

The ceilings were vaulted, mostly made of trapezoidal mud bricks, and the beams were flat. In large rooms, the beams were supported by wooden columns with stone plinths. In the internal layout of the palace we can see the division into three main complexes, which were almost isolated from each other.

On the south-eastern side of the palace was a complex of 12 unadorned rooms in which we find washing vessels, remains of the palace archives and weapon storage. Along the southern edge of the palace, along a long corridor separated by a burnt brick wall, were four similar blocks consisting of two rooms and a staircase leading upwards.

The corridor led to a small courtyard with circular niches, around which four two-chambered sanctuaries with two-storey altars and niches were grouped. In one of them, wall paintings depicting a mourning scene have been preserved.

This suggests that the shrines were intended for funeral rites performed by priests whose flats were connected to the corridor. The largest part of the palace was occupied by the complex of ceremonial rooms and sanctuaries associated with various aspects of royal culture.

The walls were decorated with frescoes and five halls were decorated with the clay polychrome bas-reliefs. Only an insignificant part of the former decoration has come down to us in the rubble / what was saved during the excavations in the 1940s is now in the State Hermitage Museum.

However, it is possible to imagine the furnishings and presumably to determine the function of several rooms.

The “Hall of Kings” in the Toprak-Kala fortress was a dynastic sanctuary where fire burned on an altar in front of large images of 23 kings of Khorezm (unlike the others, these sculptures are full-size). They were on soles divided by partitions into a number of boxes.

In each of them, in addition to the statue of the king, were two female and one male high reliefs.

“Hall of Victories” at Toprak-Kala Fortress – bears on its walls bas-reliefs of seated tsars and goddesses flying beside them. These compositions /save only legs of figures/ probably recalled the images on the coins depicting the moment of handing over the rulers with badges of royal dignity.

“Hall of the dark-skinned warriors” at the Toprak kala fortress. Here, the bas-relief images of the kings standing in niches under clay overlays in the form of huge stylised rams’ horns. Dark-skinned warriors (the location of these small figures cannot be precisely determined) trumpeted the glory of the kings. The decoration of the hall sanctuary was apparently subordinate to the idea of military glory and good fortune.

The “Hall of the Deer” in the Toprak kala fortress was decorated with figures of these animals, above which was a belt with images of griffins. Other bas-relief fragments include fruits of pomegranates, vines, etc. The decoration may have conveyed the life cycle of the plant and animal kingdoms.

In the “Hall of Dancing Masks” at Toprak-Kala Fortress, images of men and women dancing in pairs are partially preserved on the walls. The main niche apparently contained the image of a great goddess with a predator (individual fragments have been found).

The other two large niches may have contained companion gods. An altar podium is open in the middle of the hall. The hall was, as one can think, intended for the performance of mysteries symbolising the king’s connection with the fertile forces of nature.

The importance of this sanctuary is indicated by the fact that it was directly connected to the main part of the throne ensemble. This ensemble consisted of a forecourt and an aivan divided by a three-arched portal.

Under the central arch, the diagonals of the square in which the entire main palace is inscribed crossed. The north-western additional field enclosed a large square room, which has now been almost completely washed away.

It was crossed by corridors on whose walls waves and fish were depicted. Perhaps the north-western field was a sanctuary dedicated to the water element. The southern arrangement also had a ceremonial and probably a cultic purpose.

Traces of painting and the remains of a rectangular podium were found in the axial space. The north-eastern massif consisted of 8 very high, elongated rooms covered by vaults, some of whose arches have surprisingly survived to the present day.

The purpose of these rooms, which were undecorated and created shortly after construction, remains unclear. The most important find found in the palace are the ancient documents from Khorezmia.

The origin of various objects and products was recorded on the skin; several dates have been preserved, the earliest being 188 and 252 years of the Khorezmian era, which began in the first half of the first century AD.

The records on the tree are lists of able-bodied and unemployable freemen and slaves who were members of various Khorezmian families. The palace, which had primarily a sacred purpose, was abandoned in the early 4th century AD and, after partial repair, was used as a city citadel.

Most of the household finds belong to this period. The exploration of the northern complex of Toprak-kala in 1976 – 1979 showed that it is a group of buildings located outside the settlement of Toprak-kala about 100 m north of the palace excavated by S. P. Tolstov in 1946 – 1950 and additionally explored in 1967 – 1972.

The buildings of the northern complex cover an area of about 12 hectares. The length of the chain of buildings extends along the north-south axis – 350 metres. the same length of the array, aligned in the latitudinal direction. There are 10 buildings, but this figure is provisional.

It is likely to become smaller as excavations have shown a tendency to group individual ramparts into very large palatial structures. The closest building to the “High Palace” is building No. 1 of the northern complex, which was excavated between 1976 and 1979 and is located on a west-east axis.

The size of the building is determined by the area of the base of about 160 – 180 x 50 metres, the height of which reaches about 2.5 metres. Approximately 50 rooms are cleared here, these are the large palatial halls, but also small utility rooms.

The halls and small rooms had paintings on the walls. However, only a few have survived. One room was dominated by coloured ornaments on a white and black background. Depicted were large and small rosettes, lotuses, tulips, lianas, etc.

In another room, the ornaments had a completely different character and imitated the geometric patterns of textiles or carpets / the image of fringes was also preserved. In a third room in a large hall, tapes were found on the walls forming a rhombic grid.

In another room the remains of a sculpture were found, unfortunately only fragments, representing the lower legs and the dress. Also found in this room was a large /0.70×0.70 m/ piece of grey marble with well-polished sides (0.2 m) and with a chipped top.

It is either part of a sculpture or a pedestal for an altar. It is therefore a palace complex. There were also some utility rooms – the eastern part of the building, but they are poorly preserved. Part of the area with pits for vessels, ashes, waste and fireplaces is preserved.

In the second building, which has the preserved dimensions of 70 by 35 metres and a plinth height of 1.2 metres, 25 rooms are preserved. There are also halls and small rooms. The walls in most of the rooms are covered with white plaster. However, there are also fragments of colour paintings in different colours (red, pink, blue, grey).

Here, as in the first building, there are some halls with wooden bases of columns. Instead of the bases of columns made of polymitic sandstone, which had a three-tiered base on which the second piece of a moulded form was installed, the bases of columns are preserved, which were deeply traditional for the architecture of the time.

The cast pieces have fallen off the bases. There are a number of large halls without column bases. These appear to have been open spaces. In one of the halls there is a painting of floral and geometric ornaments as a base under the floor of the room.

This suggests that the palace may have been rebuilt. On the north wall of the second building are two towers No.1 and No.2, which are rectangular monolithic bases of some surviving buildings. Their function is not clear.

Their fortification significance may be assumed if the courtyard on the east side can be proved. West of buildings No. 1 and No. 2, in the meridian direction, building No. 7 has dimensions of about 100 by 30 metres and heights of 10 to 150 centimetres in the southern part and up to 5.5 metres in the northern part.

More than 50 rooms are cleared in it. In the southern part we have three three-room complexes, which are very similar to the complexes in the south-western part of the “High Palace”. In the northern part, the lower rooms were walled up. Two staircases led to the second floor.

Thick walls and bricked-in cones had preserved the ground floor to the present day. In one of the pits it was found that the base of building 7 stood on the ground, while the base of building 2 was underlaid at the joint with a layer of cultural material about 30 centimetres thick. It follows that Building No. 2 was built later than Building No. 7.

It seems that buildings No. 1, 3 and 7 were built at the same time, as their plinths were identical up to 2.5 m, while building No. 2 was built somewhat later. Only the plinth of building no. 3 has not been preserved. The plinth is 80 metres east of building No. 7 and 8-10 metres north of building No. 2.

Buildings No. 4, 5, 6 are extended in meridional direction north of building No. 3. Only the bases of the premises are left of them. Between buildings no. 7 and 2 and 3 is the northern courtyard of the complex. To the west of building no. 7, buildings nos. 8, 9 and 10 are extended in the width direction.

Between buildings 8, 9 and 10 are the courtyards; and finally, further west, is the shaft of the roofing system, in which two Huvishka coins were found. In addition, a coin dating back to the time of Vima Qadfiza was found in 1978 on the floor of Room 24 of Building No. 1.

A small golden head of a lion cub 3 x 2.5 cm was found in the passageway to room No. 24. In room No. 3 of building No. 1, an alabaster mould for making a bas-relief image of “satyrs” was found.

Places of interest

Karakol - Dungan Mosque

Karakol - Dungan Mosque

The Dungan Mosque is one of the most interesting sights in Karakol, along with the Holy Three Church.

The Dungan Mosque is a very special building associated with the large Dungan diaspora in Karakol and has a history of more than 100 years. In 1877, a civil war broke out in China between Chinese Muslims and followers of traditional Chinese religions. The Chinese Muslims were subjected to severe oppression, forcing more than 300,000 people to flee across the Tien Shan Mountains to Kyrgyzstan, where many of them settled, including in Karakol. These Chinese Muslims were called Dungan and are still known as such today.

After settling in the city, the Dungans decided to build a mosque for themselves, for which a well-known architect from Beijing, Zhou-Si, was invited. The construction of the mosque took three years and has a special feature: The wooden construction was put together without a single nail and is still intact after 120 years.

The first thing that catches your eye when you see this amazing building are the clearly Chinese motifs. The roof of the mosque is painted in different colours and the mosque has an interesting sloping roof, a traditional feature of Chinese buildings. Also striking are the amazingly intricate wood carvings that adorn the facades of the building.

It is a unique monument of Central Asian architecture that has almost no equivalent. The mosque is open to tourists, though women are advised to cover themselves with a headscarf, which they can purchase for free at the entrance to the mosque. It is also recommended that non-Muslims do not enter the mosque, but limit themselves to viewing the grounds and building from the outside.

Places of interest

Karakol - Gorge Altyn Arashan

Karakol - Gorge Altyn Arashan

Altyn-Arashan (translated as “Golden Spring”) is a mountain gorge in the eastern part of the Terskey-Ala-Too Mountains near the city of Karakol. This gorge is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyrgyzstan due to its unique nature, hot springs directly in the gorge, extensive spruce forests and breathtaking views.

During the Soviet Union, the area of the gorge was recognised as a specially protected nature reserve due to its great natural diversity. The gorge received the status of a nature reserve in 1963 and has retained it until today. This is one of the few places in Kyrgyzstan where the relict forests of the Tien-Shan spruce are preserved in such large numbers. The hot springs of Altyn-Arashan are also widely known. Located at a record altitude of 2,600 metres, the springs have a healing effect due to the radon and hydrogen sulphide content of the water and maintain a high temperature all year round: 35 degrees for the radon spring and 41 degrees for the hydrogen sulphide spring. Indoor pools have been built at some springs, while others are still “wild” and located in bathing holes or grottos hollowed out in the rocks.

The large influx of tourists to Altyn-Arashan is ensured by the fact that through this gorge one can reach the alpine lake Ala-Kul, the most beautiful lake Terskey-Ala-Too, after crossing the pass of the same name at 3,800 m above sea level. The road there leads through the left tributary of the Altyn-Arashan, 5 km above the village.

One of the reasons tourists love this place is the Aksu Wall, also known as Palatka Peak, because of its unusual trapezoidal shape, which is very rare in the Tian Shan Mountains. The view of the wall has become a kind of trademark of the gorge. For hiking enthusiasts, there is a hike to the base of the peak where there is a small glacial lake Kashka-Suu and several waterfalls: Sharkyratma, Kuldurek, Tash-Tektir, Archaly Gate and Takyr Gate.

Altyn-Arashan Gorge, unlike other mountain gorges of the northern Tien Shan, has a complex geographical relief. In its lower part, Altyn-Arashan is a narrow gorge with a high gradient and a rough river that can flood the road in summer. In the upper part, the gorge widens considerably and becomes a peculiar alpine valley with a very gentle gradient. Upstream, the gorge splits and forms two arms that wind around the Aksu wall on the right and left.

Altyn-Arashan is used as a base camp for radial hikes, as a transfer point on the way to Ala-Kul, the Ak-Suu Gorge or the Karakol and Djety-Oguz valleys. It is also a wonderful place to relax in the untouched nature of the Tien-Shan.

Places of interest

Karakol City

Karakol City

The city of Karakol is the real tourist centre of Kyrgyzstan. Tourists from all over the world come here every year, and this popularity is no coincidence. Besides the city’s impressive architecture and history, the surrounding natural attractions are also extremely popular: the huge Lake Issyk-Kul and the highest mountains of the Tien Shan range. For those travelling to Karakol for the first time, we have put together a special travel guide.

Karakol is strikingly different from all other cities in Kyrgyzstan because of its amazing Old Russian architecture, many ancient landmarks and amazing natural beauty, of which there are many around Karakol. It was founded in the 19th century and has long been the largest and most developed city in Kyrgyzstan. Today it is the authentic capital of the Issyk-Kul region, where the cultural characteristics of the different peoples come together, which is best seen in Karakol’s cuisine.


Karakol owes its distinctive architecture to the Russian settlers who founded the city in 1869. Most of the buildings in the historic centre of the city were built in the late 19th century and are in the classic Russian style, with whitewashed walls, high painted ceilings, carved facades and shutters. There is a whole block of these houses in the city, which are still used by residents or house institutions.
The most famous historical buildings in Karakol are the Trinity Cathedral, an old wooden Orthodox church, the Dungan Wooden Mosque, built in Chinese style and without a single nail, and the Merchants’ Lane with its cleared cobblestones, where the local museum is located.

Another special feature of Karakol is the large number of trees, including mighty poplars. There are several large parks in the very small town, and numerous trees grow on the properties of the farms, making the streets of Karakol fresh and cool even on the hottest days.

Natural attractions

Karakol is located in a beautiful place, just below the high mountains of the Terskey Ala-Too range. It is one of the most geographically diverse places in Kyrgyzstan, housing a variety of natural beauties in a relatively small area, for which the majority of tourists visiting Kyrgyzstan come here. Here in Karakol, the blue waters of the high mountains of Ala-Kul, hot springs and breathtaking views of the Altyn-Arashan and Ak-Suu gorges, as well as challenging and beautiful trekking routes in the mountains of Karakol and the Jety-Ozuz gorge, attract travellers. It is a true paradise for lovers of mountain hiking and trekking.

The widely known Karakol ski camp is located in the gorge of the same name, where alpinists from many countries come to conquer the Terskei-Ala-Too Mountains. From Karakol, the trail begins to the most difficult to access areas of Kyrgyzstan – the Inylchek glacier and the high peaks of the Pobeda and Khan Tengry peaks.

It should not be forgotten that Karakol is very close to the pleasant banks of the Issyk-Kul, which is why many people come here to spend their summer holidays. Paragliding on the hills near the city is also very popular, and in winter Karakol becomes the centre of Kyrgyz skiing holidays with a well-developed ski station and great opportunities for freeriding and backcountry skiing.


The cuisine in Karakol is strikingly different from the rest of Kyrgyzstan, due to the large number of Dungans living in the city. So if you come to Karakol, be sure to try the local dishes, which are famous throughout the country and even beyond.

Ashlyan Fu
The signature dish of Karakol is Ashlyan Fu – a spicy Dungan soup served cold. The main ingredients of ashlyan fu are two types of noodles: plain noodles made from wheat flour and starchy noodles. The noodles are seasoned with cold broth, spicy laza spice and many herbs.
It is usually served with fried potato cakes and hot tea.

Also a traditional Dungan dish that has spread throughout Central Asia and is equally popular in all parts of the country. Lagman is made with a special technique of boiled noodles seasoned with steamed meat, vegetables and spices. There is also a type of lagman that uses rice instead of noodles, called ganfan.

Karakol manty
Even the usual manty in Karakol can be quite different from all the others. Here, manty is traditionally served not only with meat, but also with various herbs – especially jusai. Manty in Karakol is also traditionally served with a spicy dressing, laza, made with hot pepper and garlic.

Of course, besides the typical dishes of Karakol, you can also try traditional Kyrgyz dishes such as beshbarmak, pilaf, kurdak, shorpo, etc. You can find a more detailed list of Kyrgyz dishes here.

Places of interest
Rabat Malik Karawanserei

Kermene - Rabat Malik Caravanserai

Kermene - Rabat Malik Caravanserai

The Rabat Malik (Royal Rabat) caravanserai in Kermene is one of the largest architectural structures located far from the Great Silk Road connecting the Middle East with China. The Rabats played a special role in the military and spiritual development of Central Asia as stations for mounted guards in border areas and as fortresses for the Gaziy, the fighters for Islam.

With the rise of Islam, however, the importance of the rakats in the military sense gradually evaporated, and the forts were used as inns and caravanserais or converted into religious houses for religious followers, khanakas.

From this point of view, the Rabat Malik caravanserai is a religious heritage site. It is located in the steppe between the two oldest cities in Central Asia – Bukhara and Samarkand, 18-20 km from the city of Kermene.

There are several legends about the origin of Rabat Malik that still exist among the locals. According to one of them, Rabat Malik was built by Malikkhan, the leader of one of the tribes, on the orders of Allah while he was sleeping.

Malik-khan, according to another legend, was a robber who preyed on the surrounding area and was said to have been a threat to the area. According to one legend, one of the passing natives, Malik Khan – the builder of the slaughterhouse, appears as a victim: he was blinded by Genghis Khan for disobedience during the Mongol invasion.

The area where the Rabat Malik caravanserai is located is called Chul-i Malik (Royal Steppe). Until the last century, the settlement of Malik was located in the vicinity. In the meantime, Rabat Malik has been almost completely lost.

Only a lonely portal rises in the flat steppe. Even the name of the monument, which the local population calls Bukhara Gate, has changed. It took a little more than a century for the ruins of the monumental, majestic structure with a richly decorated façade, built on the steppe in the 1940s, to be almost completely destroyed.

The first travel notes, descriptions and sketches from the last century show that Rabat Malik was actually already destroyed at that time, but was preserved in a more holistic form compared to the present day.

The sketch by A. Lemon, who was there in 1841-1842, contains valuable information. The drawing captures the most spectacular part of the monument – the main façade with a portal in the centre and the gulda towers in the corners, which were still intact at that time.

Now, apart from the Rabat Malik portal, nothing remains. But in the attestation of A.Lemon, published by I.I.Umnyakov (I.I.Umnyakov, 1927, p.181) and almost simultaneously by B.N.Zasypkin (B.N.Zasypkin, 1928, p.214), a description of the Rabat Malik courtyard part is given which is now completely missing.

Here is the description: “Through the gate with Gothic vault of very massive construction one can enter the fortress. The fortress is a place of fallen ruins and piles of stones, and we can only guess at what they once were.

Just beyond the entrance, narrow parallel galleries, reminiscent of horse stables, extend on both sides. Then one can enter a rather large courtyard, from which a narrow corridor leads into the main room.

The latter forms a large independent circular building, with massive Gothic columns on its inner walls, which are quite well preserved and variously decorated with relief arabesques. They once supported the dome with high vaults of this rotunda, which has now collapsed and covers the floor with large and small debris.

As there were no windows in the walls, the light must have come from above. At the back of this great hall is a small door leading into the last room, from which one now enters the great orchard.”

The Rabat Malik Caravanserai is also popular because it is considered to be one of the few structures in Central Asia whose construction time is precisely determined. V. V. Bartold and later I. I. Umnyakov were certain that the information from “Kitabi Mullozade” (first half of the 16th century) and the notes in the margin of this manuscript about the construction of a royal Rabat by the Karakhanid ruler Nasr Shems al-Mulk in the year 471 AH (1078 – 1079) goes back to Rabat Malik in the steppe near Kermene.

Places of interest
Abdal Bobo Mausoleum in Khiva

Khiva - Abdal Bobo Mausoleum

Khiva - Abdal Bobo Mausoleum

The Abdal Bobo Mausoleum, built between the eighth and eighteenth centuries in Khiva, is located in the eastern part of Dishan Qala (Outer City), south of the Abdullah Nasfurush Madrasah and east of the Palvon Qori Madrasah. This mausoleum was built in honour of Abdal Bobo, whose real name was Polvon Ahmad Zamchiy.

After the Arab invasion, Abdal Bobo became one of the proponents of the Islamic religion in Khiva. After his death, a winter and summer mosque, a minaret and a pond were built around his burial place. The Abdal Bobo Mausoleum in Khiva was built in the style of Bukhara.

Ahmad Zamchiy is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) on the part of Hazrat Ali. Ahmad Zamchiy was a contemporary of Abu Muslim Qutayba – there is information about their joint battles in various sources. He rendered great services to the spread of Islam in such historical cities of present-day Uzbekistan as Karshi, Bukhara, Miyankol and Samarkand.

According to legends, it is known that he (Ahmad Zamchiy) descended to the Shahi Zinda cave in Samarqand and participated in the “Loy” battles in Bukhara. After his death, many rulers of cities dreamed of burying him in their city.

According to Ahmad Zamchiy’s will, seven tobutes (coffins) were prepared and these tobutes were sent to seven cities. The interesting thing is that when these tobutes were opened, there was a corpse in each of them.

Places of interest

Khiva - Abdullakhan Madrasa

Khiva - Abdullakhan Madrasa

The Abdullakhan Madrasa, located south of the Kutlug Murad Inaka Madrasa in Khiva, was built in 1855 by the mother of Khiva Khan in memory of her son Abdullakhan, after his tragic death. The portal of the building, if we disregard it, lacks any ornamentation and its structure is very simplified.

To the south is a domed hall of the mosque, slightly offset from the transverse axis of the vestibule. In the north-eastern corner of the madrasa there is no domed hall, instead there are three hujshras (study room). The rectangular courtyard of the madrasa is surrounded by hujshras covered in the traditional balkhi method, and there is a fountain in the centre of the courtyard.

In the booklet by Kamiljon Hudaibergenov “Family Tree of Khiva Khans” (“Khiva khonlari shazharasi”), in the lines dedicated to Abdullakhan, it says the following: “Abdullakhan was a man who trusted everyone’s words. In defaming Mir Ahmad (the Khan’s commander), he shed the innocent blood of several people. He was a very ruthless, impatient man. But he valued friendship very much, loved justice and was brave and courageous. There were no sons left of him, there was only one daughter who was married to Abdulaziz Tura. After the death of Abdullakhan, his mother, in order to preserve her son’s name, built a madrasa in Khiva.”

Nowadays, the madrasa is the exhibition place of the Khorezm Nature Museum, whose aim is to present the natural beauties of Khorezm Oasis, its flora and fauna, relief, climate, as well as the measures taken for their protection and preservation to the visitors of the museum, in order to hand them over to the future generations in safe and healthy conditions. The nature of the Choresm Oasis is distinctive. The museum provides useful information about the Sultan Wais Mountains, the delta of the Amu Darya River, the wildlife of the Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts and useful plant species. The exposition of the Choresm Nature Department. The exhibition was created in 1960. The last re-exposition of the department was held in 2008. The usable area of the exposition is 180 sqm.

Places of interest

Khiva - Abdurasulbay Madrasa

Khiva - Abdurasulbay Madrasa

The Abdurasulbay Madrasa in Khiva (1906) adjoins the southeast corner of the Yar Muhammad Devon Mosque. It was built at the expense of Abdurasulbay, a nephew of Muhammad Niyaz Mirzabashi (Kamil Khwarizmi), a great poet, composer and translator (Kamil Khwarizmi (1825-1899) was an Uzbek poet and musicologist. His real name was Muhammad Niyaz Mirzabashi. He studied at a madrasa in Khiva.His real name was Mukhammad Niyaz Mirazabashi. He studied at a madrasa in Khiva. He was a student of the Agakhi school. He served as secretary and head of the chancery of Muhammad-Rahim-Khan II).

The entrance is located between two courtyards and consists of two interconnected dome sections, with one side facing the courtyard of the madrasa. The two daughters of Abdurasulbay are buried in two hujjas.

The Abdurasulbay Madrasa in Khiva has two courtyards, and the layout of the madrasa is quite large (area 30×65 m). In the western one (6,9х3,6 m; in trapezoidal shape) there are two cruciform rooms in the corners, a mosque covered with a dome in the south, two hujshras with two entrance openings in the north. The eastern courtyard (7.1 m x 5.5 m; rectangular) is also surrounded by enclosing rooms. The first floor rooms (above the corridor) and other rooms for the students have vaulted ceilings. The wall fronts are decorated with brushed bricks, painted green (glaze) in the upper part of the portal and walls.

At the entrance to the madrasa is a gate consisting of two wings. The right-hand blade has an inscription on the crossbar bearing the name of the master: “Bogbek. But the second line of the inscription, which bears his father’s name, has not been preserved.

Today it is a cultural heritage in Uzbekistan. It is also, an object of tourist service and display, which housed a workshop for embroidery suzane.

Places of interest
Ak-Mosque in Chiwa

Khiva - Ak Mosque

Khiva - Ak Mosque

The Ak-Mosque, also called the White Mosque, is located at the eastern gate of Ichan-Qala city centre in Khiva. It is a small building, the so-called “neighbourhood mosque” (a type of mosque built for visiting residents of a neighbourhood).

The foundation of the building was laid in the XVII century under the Anush-khan and the present building was rebuilt in 1838 – 1842. The Ak-Mosque is a typical example of neighbourhood mosques, usually built for the population of a small “micro-district” of Khiva, known as Mahalla or Guzar.

The central domed chamber – Khanaqa (6,Z5 õ 6, 35 m) is surrounded on three sides by tall multi-columned aiwans. In the depth of the southern walls of Khanaka and Aywans are mihrab niches.

The special attraction of the mosques are the wooden pillars – the narrow columns, the bases with graceful carvings. The carved doors on which the names of the masters – Usta Nurmuhammad and Usta Qalandar – are inscribed are also interesting.

The name Ak Mosque (“White Mosque”) refers not only to the Gantsch coating on the walls of the building, but also to its paramount importance among the small mosques in the neighbourhood.

Probably this name remained from the previous mosque built under Anush-Khan, the remains of which are preserved under the walls of the new building. The main prayer room is in the winter building of the mosque, crowned by a white dome.

The carved finials of the mosque doors, openwork window grilles, wooden columns with carved plinths are interesting. As a whole, the Ak Mosque represents one of the patterns of Central Asian architecture. The names of the masters can be read in the carvings on the doors of the mosque.

Places of interest

Khiva - Allakuli Khan Madrasa

Khiva - Allakuli Khan Madrasa

The Allakuli-Khan Madrasa, together with the adjacent Allakuli Khan Caravanserai, is part of the Ichan-Kala complex of historical and architectural sites in Khiva, which is an open-air museum with buildings dating back to the 14th century.

On the way from the eastern entrance of Ichan-Kala to the covered bazaar was the Allakuli-Khan Madrasa in ancient times, one of the most famous in Khiva and the surrounding area. The madrasa was built on funds of the Uzbek Khan Allakuli in the middle of the XIX century, the works were carried out in the course of two years, the construction started in 1833 and was finished in 1835.

The name of Allakuli-Khan, the incumbent successor of his father Muhammad Rahim-Khan I, is closely associated in the history of Khiva with the strengthening of the city’s power, the consolidation of the country’s borders and the rapid development of relations with many countries of the world. During his reign, the city was actively built up with residences, palaces, trading places, mosques and caravanserais. The famous Khan of Khiva – Allakulikhan, in order to transform the city into the most beautiful and attractive place in Asia, decided to demolish the old dilapidated madrasa, which in due course was built of a frame and rough bricks, and to build new educational institutions of baked bricks in its place. This is how the Allakuli-khan Madrasa came into being in Khiva.

The Allakuli-khan Madrasa was built on the artificial platform at the height of three metres, which clearly rose above the domes of the neighbouring educational institution Hojamberdibiya and was included in the territory of the inner part of the city of Khiva.

In the penultimate century, the ground floor housed a public library accessible to students of all the madrasas in the city. The library was supported by income from the nearby caravanserai and tema. The building now serves as a museum of medical art and history of medicine, named after the famous healer Abu Ali Ibn Sina, known in the world of medicine as Avicenna. There is also a restored craft centre within the madrasa.

The architecture of the Madrasa Allakuli-khan is not striking, yet the imposing building is considered one of the grandest and most beautiful structures of its time in the city.

The courtyard of the Allakuli-khan Madrasa in Khiva is a little different from the traditional courtyards of educational institutions of the time. The rows of two-storey hujras rest on the edges of the domes of the bazaar and rise above the domes of the entrance gate of Palvan-darwaza. The madrasa building itself is not rectangular, but has a trapezoidal shape with a four-storey, two-storey courtyard.

The Allakuli-khan Madrasa complex comprises 99 hujras (or cells), 2 mosques (winter and summer mosques in the western aiwan), a lecture hall (darskhana) and an entrance hall. Each hujra had a door and a window, and its lower part was decorated with baked bricks in the shape of a square and the walls were plastered with ganch. The vaults of the hujras are in a rustic style.

The interiors of madrasa buildings, including mosques, have no special decorations and large domes. The walls of the buildings are flat, the niches are deep and unsightly. All ornaments are on the outer walls of the building. The main façade of the madrasa, executed in the form of majolica of the Choresm type in the graphic colours of black and white and painterly blue, covering all the vertical surfaces and half-vaults, looks out on the courtyard of another educational institution called the Khojamberdybiya. The majolica on different walls has a different pattern depending on the location.

The architecture of the late Khorezmian Middle Ages is presented here in all its glory. The large scale does not detract from the amazing proportionality and the traditional décor gives the building both austerity and celestial lightness. The arched niches and the portal above the entrance, the tympana and the frames of the double arcade, as well as the three quarters of the portal’s columns are also decorated with majolica and paintings in black outlines as well as beautiful plant patterns. The south portal of the building attracts attention with an ornament in the form of many intertwined rings.

Places of interest

Khiva - Allakulikhan Caravanserai

Khiva - Allakulikhan Caravanserai

In 1806, a long gallery of trading rooms covered by domes was added to the Palvan-Darvaza Gate in Khiva – Allakulikhan Caravanserai. At this gate, which closed the busiest street, the commercial life of the city was concentrated during the Allakulikhan period (1825-1842).

In the XIX century in connection with the expansion of economic links with Bukhara, Persia and Russia, Khiva needs new trading areas. In 1832 – 1833, a huge caravanserai was built here by order of Allakulikhan. To place it, the wall of Ichan-Qala near the Tash-khuli Palace had to be demolished.

The caravanserai was intended for stopping merchants, storing goods and trading. It consisted of a large courtyard and two-storey hujshras. The caravanserai building has a rectangular shape extending from south to north.

The Allakulikhan Caravanserai in Khiva is built like a madrasa and has 105 rooms. The living quarters were on the second floor, while the storerooms and stalls were on the first floor. This is the only surviving caravanserai in Khorezm.

In terms of architecture, the Allakulikhan caravanserai is very close to a typical madrasa composition. However, the central corridor is directly connected to the courtyard. There are two floors of hujras around the courtyard.

There is a covered market in Khiva – directly in front of the Allakulikhan Caravanserai – which runs along the façade. The dimensions of the structure are 69 x 58 metres, 46.3 x 42.4 metres. Thus, trade, storage of goods and accommodation for merchants were concentrated in one place.

The covered bazaar consists of two large domed rooms, alternating and partially surrounded by 14 smaller domed rooms, rising in a spiral on strong brick pillars and connected by sixteen through arches.

Large arched doors lead from the east and west into the covered bazaar. In its construction and purpose it resembles the Abdullah Khan Palace in the city of Bukhara.

In the middle of the northern wall of the covered bazaar is a third gate leading to the saray – the only “real” caravanserai in the whole vast area of the former Khiva Khanate.

Its spacious, square courtyard is surrounded by a brick wall, along which 105 hujshras are arranged. These hujras served as stopovers for visiting silk merchants and for storing raw silk and silk products.

A customs office was located in the gate hujras to collect duties from the silk trade. The shed and covered bazaar, as mentioned in the description of the Allakulikhan madrasa, was a waqf of the city library.

According to the waqf document preserved in the Khiva Museum, the income from the waqf was to be spent mainly on buying books and keeping the library.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala in Chiwa

Khiva - Aminkhan Madrasa

Khiva - Aminkhan Madrasa

“By the will of the Almighty, by the order of the Sultan of his time, Abulgazi Muhammad Aminkhan ibn Allakulikhan (may his grave be illuminated), with the words that it may be a place of mercy, built this blessed madrasa in Khiva, date Hijra 1270 (1854)”.

During the reign of Aminkhan in Khiva, there were 64 active madrasas, the largest and most beautiful of which was the madrasa built by Muhammad Aminkhan (in the dialect Madaminkhan), which is well preserved to this day.

The madrasa is located in the western part of Ichan-Kala, on the right side at the entrance from the main gate Ata-Darvaza. This architectural structure is large and magnificent, in keeping with the particular methods of building of the time.

It is built of baked bricks and its walls are 1.5 m thick. The madrasa has two floors and consists of 130 rooms (hujras – a hujra describes a cell, a small living space for students, in a madrasa in Uzbekistan, for example. Rooms for travelling dervishes in a khanqah were also called this), in which 260 students were studying at the same time, according to historical sources. Historians tell the story of the construction of the madrasa and the minaret: “In the fourth year of the reign of Muhammad Aminkhan, the construction of the madrasa and the minaret was started in the direction of Qibla (towards the Kaaba, the southern direction in Khiva) opposite the Ark.

Bekniyaz Diwanbegi ordered the construction to be carried out. When Bekniyaz started the construction, Muhammad Karim of Diwan was assigned to supervise it. Muhammad Karim found famous masters of Choresm and started building it.

On the orders of the Khan in Yangiariq (village) at the foot of the desert, the construction of the country palace – Hovli and garden – was also started and Ismail Diwan ibn Adina Diwan was appointed as its director on the orders of Abdullah Kushbegi.

In 1851, the competition for the construction of the madrasa was called by Muhammad Aminkhan and the project drawn by the Supreme Master of Khiva (Ustabashi) Abdulla “Jin” was pleasing to the Khan. The madrasa was built in three years.

The pleased Khan ordered Bekniyaz Diwanbegi to prepare everything necessary for the great celebrations and feast. The khan’s brothers and close relatives who came to the feast were presented with gold-woven robes and racy racehorses. No one who attended the feast was left without a gift.

Contemporaries praised the construction of the madrasa in verses with a coded chronogram and were also presented with gifts by the Khan. Next to the madrasa, construction began on a minaret so majestic that poets glorified its unfinished construction with the words “Like a pillar supporting the dome of heaven”.

The portal of the madrasa was decorated with beautiful majolica tiles on which were written eulogies to the builders of the madrasa in the Nasta’liq script of Arabic calligraphy.

The madrasa has a similar architectural structure to other similar buildings. It is symmetrically built in two storeys, with a rectangular floor plan and a spacious courtyard in the same shape. There are guldasta corner towers in four corners of the madrasa.

The towers on either side of the central portal of the madrasa are particularly noteworthy. Behind the main façade are a five-domed minaret, a winter mosque, an auditorium and ancillary rooms.

The rooms on the first floor served as living quarters and utility rooms, while the living quarters on the second floor have vaulted loggias that open to one side, giving the building an attractive appearance.

The courtyard is adorned with four small portals, the front part of which is decorated with majolica with Khiva motifs, under which calligraphic inscriptions are woven in Arabic script in the Thuluth style.

The window openings of the madrasa have panjara-patterned grilles. A waterproofing layer of mountain stones was laid in the lower part of the walls in the basement of the madrasa (their height is 68 cm). The overall dimensions of the madrasa are 71.7 m x 60.0 m, and the inner courtyard of the madrasa is 38.0 m x 38.0 m in size. The winter mosque – 9.4 х 8.4 metres, the auditorium – 5.6 х 5.5 metres, the summer mosque – 5.6 х 5.6 metres, the height of the portal – 25 metres.

According to the description of traveller Hermann Vambery, who arrived in Khiva in 1863, the madrasa was built by Muhammad Aminkhan in the form of a caravanserai, the minaret, located near the madrasa, was left unfinished because of the tragic death of Khan.

The 130 rooms (hujshras) of the madrasa were meant for 260 students, for the madrasa the lands of Waqf (Waqf is an institute of Islamic law similar to the foundation) were allotted in certain sizes. The area of these lands was 32,525 tanaps and the harvest obtained from them was distributed among the students and employees of the madrasa.

The annual income from these waqf lands was 12000 khiva batman (batman – 20 kg) of wheat and 5000 tilla (gold coins) of money. There were 2 to 3 students in each hujra of the madrasa, the doors of all the hujrasas faced the courtyard of the madrasa and there was a fireplace in each hujra.

Religious and secular sciences were taught in the madrasa, and at the same time entertainment games were forbidden, as was singing. The duration of study in the madrasa was unlimited, some students studied in one course for 3 – 4 years, even 8 – 10 years.

Education in the madrasa was conducted in 3 stages:

  1. Primary ‘adno’.
  2. Middle ‘avsat’.
  3. Higher ‘a’lo’ groups.

In the primary stage, students were taught Arabic grammar, logic, Sharia, religious rites and literature in Arabic and Persian. During the remaining two phases, students diligently studied Tahsib (logic), Ilohiyot (theology), jurisprudence and other sciences.

Any son of a Muslim who reached the age of 15 was admitted to a madrasa, taking into account his literacy. The students were called mullah or talibul ilm. The students who graduated from the madrasas produced poets, historians, scribes, calligraphers, scholars and educated people.

The madrasa housed a large library and the seat of the Supreme Court of the Qādī (Qādī is, according to Islamic state doctrine, a jurist who performs primarily judicial functions on behalf of the caliph, following the system of norms of the Shari’a).

Places of interest
Amir Tura Medrese in Chiwa

Khiva - Amir Tura Madrasa

Khiva - Amir Tura Madrasa

In the northern part of Ichan-Qala in Khiva, the Amir-Tura Madrasa is located between the residential houses. It was built in 1870 by the brother of Muhammad Rahim-khan II (1863-1910) and bears his name. The main façade of the madrasa is represented by a high portal with an octagonal niche and a two-storey winged arcade. The high walls of the other exterior facades also create the illusion of a two-storey structure.

Unlike many other madrasas, this one is very ascetic and modest. Its portal architecture manages entirely without decoration. Only the side towers of the madrasa, called guldasta, are not heavily decorated. They are decorated with thin strips of green mosaic.

Elegance and simplicity of the structure is given by an openwork lattice of ganch in the windows of the shelters – hujshras. These grids are called panjara. If we compare the size of the Amir Tura Madrasa with the size of other similar structures, we can describe it as medium in size, not too big, but not quite small either.

The main façade of the building consists of a high portal with an octagonal niche without any ornaments. There is reliable information about it: At the time when the workers started decorating the outer part of the building, the Red Army troops entered the city. Of course, it was impossible to work under such conditions and so the exterior decoration was limited to majolica tiles, which the masters were able to finish on the evening of the previous day.

The reconstruction of the structure began in the 1980s and ended in the late 1990s. Today, the Amir-Tura Madrasa is one of the most popular monuments of Ichan-Qala in Khiva.

Places of interest
Badehäuser Anush Khan in Chiwa

Khiva - Anush Khan Bathhouses

Khiva - Anush Khan Bathhouses

Hammams – the Anush Khan bathhouses in Khiva, in the eastern city – have deep historical traditions on technological, volumetric-spatial and planning structure.

The hammams (bathhouses) are of special interest for the architectural history of Khiva, as they are the earliest architectural monument of this kind.

They include the Anush Khan bathhouses in Khiva, built under Abulghazikhan in 1657. It is still the earliest monument of civil architecture with such a purpose, and is therefore of particular importance to the history of Khiva’s architecture.

The walls were insulated in this way. Through the enfilade of halls where the temperature gradually rises, one then enters the central hall where ablution actually took place.

Around the central hall are several side rooms with different purposes.

The bath was heated by smoke ducts located under the floor, and the water was taken from the well located near the boiler room. The rooms were heated by a system of smoke ducts under the floor.

Around the central room were small rooms, each of them had a specific functional purpose, the water for the bath was taken from the well, which was located near the boiler room.

According to historians, the bathhouses in Khiva were built around 1657-1664 by Abdulgazi-khan in honour of his son, Anush Khan. Oriental bathhouses of the Middle Ages (including those of Anush-Khan) usually consisted of a vestibule, changing rooms and washrooms.

Anush-Khan bathhouses had a semi-subterranean heating system that helped to store heat, as well as a heating and sewage system that was unique for the time.

To this day, one can visit this sunken structure in Ichan-Kala, whose existence is only recognisable by domes rising above the ground.

Places of interest

Khiva - Arab Muhammad Khan Madrasa

Khiva - Arab Muhammad Khan Madrasa

The Arab Muhammad-Khan Madrasa is one of the oldest architectural monuments in Khiva. It is located in the heart of Ichan-Qala, next to the other, no less famous, but later Madrasa of Muhammad Aminkhan. The madrasa was commissioned by the Shaybanid ruler of Khorezm, Arab Muhammad-Khan, to commemorate the transfer of the capital from Urgench to Khiva.

Arab Muhammad-khan was a famous figure in the history of Khorezm. He ruled from 1603 to 1621, during which time he achieved significant success in governing the state. On his order, Khiva became the new capital of the state of Khorezm. Under his rule, Khiva became one of the most beautiful cities in Central Asia, not inferior in beauty to Bukhara and Samarkand. He carried out a variety of measures to improve the city. Under his command, Madrasas, Mosques and civic institutions were built, though not many of them have survived to the present day.

In 1616, Arab Muhammad-Khan ordered a madrasa to be built for the townspeople of Khiva to commemorate this significant event. Originally, there was another small Madrasa on the site of the present structure, built by a notable woman from Khiva. Arab Muhammad-Khan bought this building from her along with the adjacent land.

The Arab Muhammad-Khan Madrasa was a single-storey brick building of rectangular shape. An inscription from the Quran was traditionally carved on the entrance portal. There were small minarets in the corners of the building. Inside the madrasa there are hujrasas for students and a mosque for prayers. There are study rooms on the side of the mosque.

It has been rebuilt and restored several times. In 1838, the Arab Muhammad-Khan Madrasa was reconstructed by order of the ruler of Khorezm Allakulikhan due to dilapidation according to the standards characteristic of late architecture in Khiva. A second storey was added. The number of hujras and classrooms in the madrasa was increased. The portal of the building was partially reconstructed. Thus, it has survived until today. Nowadays, the madrasa is one of the most popular places for visitors from all over the world.

Places of interest
Tor Ata-Darwaza in Chiwa

Khiva - Ata Darvaza Gate

Khiva - Ata Darvaza Gate

The Ata-Darvaza Gate, built in 1842 and 1975 (restoration), is the main gate of Ichan-Qala, located in the western part of the city of Khiva. Inside the old city there was also a room for collecting taxes (Bojkhona) and a room for exchanging money (Sarrafkhana). There were 43 shops and a covered bazaar – Chorsu inside. On the right side of the gate is the Muhammad Aminkhan Madrasah (1855), and on the left side is the Khan’s palace – Kunya Ark.

The Ata-Darwaza gate has a height of 10 metres and a width of 4 metres. The size of the structure and its dimensions, constructions in accordance with architectural possibilities were given in very acceptable standards.

To make the structure very stable, the shapes of the archways were arranged according to the gravity of the load falling on them. Wooden beams were inserted into the rows of stacked bricks and the load falling on the domes was distributed over several arches.

In this method, bricks are laid in the form of “davra” and “balhi” for the construction of small domes. At the same time, the interior of the building is plastered.

The Ata-Darvaza gate had four main rooms, which were destroyed in the twenties of the XXth century and restored to their original form in 1975 by master restorers from Khiva.

The gate leaves are decorated with geometric patterns. The leaves of the two doors in the central part are decorated with equilateral squares of the same size (85cm x 85cm) and with very finely carved plant patterns “islimi” in which circles with the pattern of octagonal stars are inscribed.

Within the circles in the right doorway is a sura from the Quran written in Arabic, while in the left doorway is Kalimai Shahadat with the words “La ilaha illallohu Muhammadur Rasululloh” meaning “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet”.

The wings of this gate were actually attached to the entrance of Muhammad Aminkhan’s country palace built between 1850 and 1851 in Angarik village.

Two photographic documents confirming this fact, i.e. that they used to be mounted in the palace house of Muhammad Aminkhan, are kept in the holdings of the museum in Ichan-Kala in Khiva.

The first Uzbek cameraman and photographer from Khoresm, Khudaibergen Divanov, documented the view of the gate that stood in the village of Angarik even before the destruction of the palace house.

Divanov specifically photographed this gate up close and left his inscription at the bottom of the photo: “The Hauli of Muhammad Aminkhan in Angarik.As mentioned above, this gate is currently the main entrance gate to the city”.

Places of interest
Madrasa Atajanbay in Khiva

Khiva - Atajanbay Madrasa

Khiva - Atajanbay Madrasa

The Atajanbay Madrasa is located near the Mazari-Sharif Madrasa in Khiva. The madrasa was built in 1884 by a wealthy landowner from Khiva, Atajanbay. Viewed from above, the layout of the madrasa looks like a quadrilateral extending transversely from east to west, asymmetrical in relation to the entrance on the southern outer wall.

There is an inner corridor between the Atajanbay Madrasa and the Mazari Sharif Madrasa. These two madrasas appear as a single complex.

The old city, or Ichan-kala, is protected by mighty walls with military fortifications and is the main sight of Khiva. The buildings to defend the city were built for decades and centuries, so you can find structures built in the XIV century or in other eras. There are historical forts, tombs, palaces and mosques, dwellings and baths. Ichan-Kala is a special town within the city as it lives with its original culture and preserves its ancient traditions. According to legend, the fortress was built from the same type of mud as Medina, which was built by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.V.).

There are 4 gates in the historic city of Ichan-kale – from the north, south, west and east. The eastern gate is connected to the western one by the main street, where architectural masterpieces are located. This monumental complex is protected by UNESCO.

Places of interest
Bagcha Darwaza in Chiwa

Khiva - Bagcha Darvaza Gate

Khiva - Bagcha Darvaza Gate

The Bagcha-Darvaza Gate, built in the 19th century, is the northern gate of Ichan-Qala in Khiva, a symmetrical structure in the fortress wall divided into rooms. The southern side, facing Ichan-Qala, is less impressive.

Unlike Tash-Darvaza, the stairs leading to the top start from the southern corners of the towers and are located on their sides, deep inside the walls of Ichan-Qala.

Dimensions of the gate, according to the plan: 18.0 x 16.0 metres, height – 8.5 metres.

Ichan-Qala fortress (inner fortress) is located in the historical centre of the old city of Khiva. Ichan-Qala occupies an area of about 30 hectares. The walls of the fortress rise to a height of 10 metres. There were darvaza (gates) in each of the four parts of the walls of Ichan-Qala in Khiva: western gate – Ata-Darvaza located in the Kunya-Ark fortress, northern gate – Bagcha-Darvaza, eastern gate – Palvan-Darvaza and southern gate – Tash-Darvaza.

The structures to defend the city were built over decades and centuries, so you can find the structures built in the XIV century or in other eras. There are historical forts, tombs, palaces and mosques, dwellings and bathhouses. Ichan-Kala is a special town within the city as it lives with its original culture and preserves its ancient traditions. According to legend, the fortress was built from the same type of mud as Medina, which was built by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.V.).

There are numerous monuments in the historic city of Ichan-Qala. They are magnificent palaces and mosques, madrasahs and mausoleums, but also caravanserais. Since 1990, the mysterious and fascinating city of Ichan-Qala has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Places of interest
Bikanjan Bika Madrasa in khiva

Khiva - Bikanjan Bika Madrasa

Khiva - Bikanjan Bika Madrasa

The Bikanjan Bika Madrasa was built in Khiva in 1894 and is located across the square from Ata-Darvaz. The cult complex, consisting of a madrasa, mosque and minaret, was built on the old territory next to the mausoleum of the popularly revered Sha-Kalandar Bobo, which is part of the complex.

According to legend, Sha-Kalandar Bobo was a Shah and after leaving this position he became a wandering dervish (Qalandar). According to legend, Sha-Kalandar Bobo was a Shah, and after leaving that position, he became a wandering dervish (kalandar). After coming to Khiva with two dervishes, he stayed here to live.

After Sha-Kalandar Bobo’s death, his disciples built a mausoleum over his grave, which has become a revered place. According to historical accounts, the mausoleum was built in the 16th century. In 1894, a madrasa, a mosque and a minaret were built near the mausoleum.

In the oral tradition of the inhabitants of that time, the name of the master usta Abdullah, who built the buildings of the complex, is known. The construction of the madrasa was started by one of the khan’s sons, but after the foundation was laid, he died and the work was stopped for 4 years.

Bikanjan Bika, the sister of Muhammad Rahim Khan II, decided to finish this construction of the madrasa in Khiva. But the work was started without taking permission from the Khan, who then started obstructing the construction and finally the work was frozen for a long seven years.

Later, when it became clear that the khan’s sister wanted to continue the construction, permission was granted and the madrasa was completed. The name of the master who directed the construction was Usta Abdullah.

Four metres from the entrance, almost in the middle of the main façade, there is a minaret. The complex, whose main façade faces north, consists of a single-storey madrasa that is square in overall plan but has a transverse courtyard and an asymmetrical composition of the entrance.

It is entered through a triple-vaulted vestibule with a cranked passageway through a series of arched compartments. Premises darskhana and mosque, different in architecture: darskhona covered with beams roof, the mosque – a massive sphero-conical dome.

The entrances from the vestibule are moved to the main façade. Rectangular hujras are covered with Balkhi vaults, entrances to a pair of hujras are in the sloping corners of the courtyards with faceted niches – angular, enlarged in area and with rowan.

The main north-facing façade is architecturally independent of the structure of the buildings hidden behind it: on the sides of the narrow choremical portal, crowned with a “sharafa” design, there are gulda towers in the corners with green “arches” set into their surface.

Dimensions of the madrasa in the general plan – 32.0 x 32.0 m, the diameter of the minaret at the base – 6.5 m, height – 18 m. The mausoleum – 6.2 x 6.2 metres, the chamber – 4.0 x 4.0 metres.

Places of interest
Bogbonli Moschee in Chiwa

Khiva - Bogbonli Mosque

Khiva - Bogbonli Mosque

In the medieval Muslim world, the importance of a city was sometimes determined by the presence of the main, i.e. Friday, mosque in it. Special care was always taken by the city fathers to ensure the architectural and artistic perfection of its appearance. Each city tried to surpass others by the monumentality of its jom’e mosque. The Bogbonli Mosque is located in the south-eastern part of Ichan-Qala in Khiva. According to the inscription in the verses on the stone slab at the entrance, the mosque was built in 1809 (1224 hijra), the name of the master Pahlavan-kuly who designed the structure is also given here.

The door bears the name of another master wood carver, Ruz Muhammad, son of Adin Muhammad, who made the carved door to the Ziyarat-khana of Sheikh Mukhtar-Wali mausoleum in Astana village, Yangiaryk district.

According to legend, the Bogbonli Mosque in Khiva was built with the money of two garden brothers. The mosque has a rectangular shape, an aiwan with two columns and a vaulted winter room. The carved wooden columns of the aiwan are of artistic value and resemble the ornamentation of the columns of the Juma Mosque.

Places of interest
Khiva - Minareto Chilli Avliya

Khiva - Chilli Avliya minaret

Khiva - Chilli Avliya minaret

The Chilli Avliya Minaret was built in the 19th century in the outskirts of Dishan-Kala in Khiva. The minaret is located next to the Chilli Avliya Madrasa, at the intersection with Yakubova Street and belongs to the outer city of Dishan-Kala.

The minaret is built of baked bricks, has four arched openings with internal staircases and is decorated with majolica belts. The Chilli Avliya minaret in Khiva is 12 m high and 3.5 m in diameter.

According to ancient legend, the city of Khiva was built around a well dug by one of the descendants of the biblical Noah. According to legend, the water in this well was particularly pure and delicious. It still stands in the city and is one of the monuments of antiquity. Khiva was founded more than 2.5 centuries ago, after which it became one of the richest and most prosperous settlements of Khorezm. At the beginning of its development, the city was succeeded by various ruling dynasties, it was repeatedly conquered by warlike tribes, and at the beginning of the XIII century the troops of Genghis Khan destroyed almost the entire city.

In the middle of the XIII century, the city became the centre of the Khiva Khanate and the second period of development and prosperity, one of the most important and largest centres of Islam in the Orient. The city is rich in magnificent monuments, among which one can discover both secular and religious buildings.

Places of interest
Zitadelle Kunya Ark in Chiwa

Khiva - Citadel Kunya Ark

Khiva - Citadel Kunya Ark

Kunya Ark is a historical citadel in the city of Khiva. The thickness of the cultural layers suggests that the area of the fortress (approx. 1 hectare) was inhabited for a long time. Most likely, it was the first construction that served as the beginning of the city’s foundation.

According to Abulgazikhan, there was no Ark citadel in Khiva in the 90s of the XVI century. It is also known that a new Kurinishkhona (reception) was built on this site in the time of Arangkhan (1686 – 1688).

The historic Kunya Ark citadel connects the western wall of Ichan-Kala with the residence of Ak-Sheikh Bobo in Khiva. In the late nineteenth century, Citadel Kunya Ark became a “city within a city” and was separated from Ichan-Kala by a high wall.

Citadel Kunya Ark was the former official residence of the Khiva Khan. It housed the chancellery, the arsenal, the mint, the mosque and the hall for receptions. It is a fortress, not a palace, surrounded by a high wall of mud bricks.

In the centre of this fortress is a religious structure – a tower of the legendary saint Ak Sheikh Bobo. It is separated from Ichan-Kala (historical centre of Khiva) by perfectly preserved mighty fortress walls. On the territory of the Kunya-Ark citadel there were the palace of the Khan of Khiva, winter and summer mosques, powder mill, mint, court, workshops, warehouses and other buildings.

Little remains of the construction of the citadel: both mosques, the mint, the building of the harem, the guardhouse at the east gate. The doors and balconies of the buildings are decorated with skilful wood carvings.

Of the khan’s palace, only the Kurinish-khona (room for receiving visitors) remains, consisting of the throne room and rooms for the archive of rare manuscripts and the khan’s treasury.

In the throne room, wooden columns on a carved marble base and majolica panels on the ceiling attract attention. The Summer Mosque also preserves the unique painted ceiling and majolica in relief on the walls.

The present Kunya Ark complex was restored in the early 19th century. The square near the entrance to the Kunya Ark was used for military parades and training battles.

There was also a special place for the execution of sentences and a zindan (prison) adjacent to the eastern walls of the Kunya Ark.

The mint has since been restored and its 19th century furnishings are recreated with mannequins of 19th century mint masters and a display of coins, silk and paper money.

Inside the harem’s two-storey building, visitors can expect luxurious interiors and living quarters. The Kunya Ark Citadel in Khiva is believed to have been built on the ruins of earlier structures.

During archaeological excavations, coins and ceramic fragments from the earlier historical period were found here. The first building of Kurinish-khona was built in 1686 – 1688 by Arang Khan and was rebuilt in the middle of the XVIIIth century, during the invasion of Iran. It was destroyed in the middle of the XVIII century during the Iranian invasion.

The modern building was constructed in 1804 – 1806 by Iltuzar-khan. Aiwan of Kurinish-khona was covered with majolica during the reign of Allakuli-Khan. Kurinish-khona consists of several rooms: open courtyard, aiwan, hall with throne and side rooms in the western part of the courtyard (khan’s treasury, room for storing manuscripts, rooms for recreation).

In the centre of the courtyard was a round elevation on which a yurt was erected, where the khan used to receive the ambassadors of his nomadic neighbours. The khan’s throne stood against the south wall of the throne room and is now in a museum in Moscow. It was made of wood and covered with silver plates with finely carved ornaments.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala - Chiwa

Khiva - Complex Atajan Tura

Khiva - Complex Atajan Tura

The Atajan Tura complex was built in 1893 – 1899 by Sayid Muhammad’s younger brother and is located in Khiva in the Khorezm region. Rahimkhan II (Feruz) – was Atajan Tura, who was temporarily proclaimed Khan during the Russian siege of the city.

On 1 June 1873, Atajan Tura wrote a letter to the rightful Khan Sayid Muhammad Rahim at the request of the first Governor General of Turkestan Kaufman, asking him to return to Khiva.

On 12 August 1873, the Khiva Khanate and Russia signed the Treaty of Gandymyan. The Atajan Tura complex in Khiva consists of a summer and winter mosque, medrese, school, bathhouse, etc. Nowadays the whole complex is completely restored and houses a folk art centre.

Places of interest
Dishan-Kala in Khiva

Khiva - Dishan Kala

Khiva - Dishan Kala

Dishan-Kala means “outer city”, “outer fortress”. After another raid on Khorasan, 20,000 inhabitants of the south were forcibly relocated to Khorezm and its capital Khiva. The walls of Dishan-Kala were built in 1842 – 1889 for additional protection of the city of Khiva from frequent Turkmen attacks. The length of its walls is about 6 kilometres.

The Khan’s suburban palaces, Rafanik and Nurullabay, also came within the city limits. Since then, the city’s great ring became known as Dishan-Kala. Dishan-Kala was built according to indigenous methods – each family from all over the khanate was assigned an employee for the period of 12 to 30 days annually, which meant that every young man had to work here.

The reinforcement of Dishan-Kala was necessary not only to provide security for the residents of the suburbs, but also to protect the property of the khan and the nobility outside the walls of Ichan-Kala.

In the interest of feudal property, Alla-Kuli-khan did not stop building the walls of Rabad until he extended the city’s defences, which were quite dangerous with the comparatively small number of its inhabitants and the insignificant army the khan could possess at that time.

According to popular legend, the walls were built in just six weeks and a quarter of the entire land was collected for the work. It was said that the entire peasant population of Beshkal (Mangit, Shavat, Khiva, Khazarasp and Urgench) was gathered for the construction of the walls of Dishan-Kala and forced to work for three years (36 working days).

There were 10 gates lined with baked bricks arranged in the walls of Dishan-Kala, namely (clockwise):
1) Hazarasp – to the east along Hazarasp Road.
2) Pishkanik – to the east, named after the village of Pishkanik.
3) Bagishamol – in the south, named after a large land garden of Allakuli-khan (earlier they were named after Angarik village).
4) Sheikhlar – in the south, after a village that belonged to the Waqf of Pahlavan-Mahmud Gumbez.
5) Tazabagh – in the south, named after the land garden of Muhammad-Rakhimkhan II, and earlier it was named after kishlak Sirchali.
6) Shahi-Mardan – in the west, known as Kishlak.
7) Dash-ayak – in the north, named after the village.
8) Kosh-Darvoza – in the north along the road to Urgench, named after two (kosh) arched gates.
9) Gadaylar – in the north; the road to them leads through the Gadaylar (beggar) quarter to Dishan-Kala, from which they take their name.
10) Gindum-Kan – in the north, named after the village.

Dishan-Kala was an ordinary Rabad of a Central Asian town: the main mass of the population consisted of craftsmen, day labourers, traders and a small number of farmers.

Dishan-Kala is less crowded than Ichan-Kala. It is irrigated by the aryks (water canals) and one often finds its own gardens and tree plantations here, which are completely absent in Ichan-Kala.

Dishan-Kala housed, as it does today, bazaars, shops and rows of craftsmen from the city of Khiva. Of the historical monuments of Dishan-Kala, only the construction of the slave market in the time of Allakuli-Khan deserves special attention.

Places of interest

Khiva - Dishan Kala hospital

Khiva - Dishan Kala hospital

The Hospital is located in the Dishan-Kala (Outer City) area of Khiva. Outside the walls of the central citadel (Ichan-Kala), a public hospital was established in the early twentieth century. Professional doctors took the place of the tabibs – healers – who were popular among the population. The hospital complex stretched for several hundred metres along the walls of the inner city fortress of Ichan-Kala. A well-known painter from Khiva named Abdulla Baltaev took part in the construction and final decoration of the hospital buildings.

It is noteworthy that the bright wall majolica preserved to this day with the inscription: “The hospital of Khiva, named after the son of Tsar Alexey” tells of the close relations of the ruler of Khiva with the ruling Russian Empire. All the buildings are built in the style of eclecticism, which combines elements of Western architecture and local traditional motifs. It is worth noting that the hospital is still in operation.

In the XIX century, Khiva Khanate did not have advanced building materials that would facilitate the mass construction of dwellings and other buildings. The reason for this was its geographical location, which was far from the industrially developed cities of Central Asia. At the beginning of the XX century, people who understood the need for transformations in all spheres of life and the importance of building relations with other states from which successful experiences could be adopted, appeared.

One such person was the Khan’s vizier, Islam Khodja. Thanks to his efforts, funds were allocated for the construction of buildings for medical, educational and other facilities. Thus, in 1912, the hospital, the only one in the entire Khanate, was opened. Gradually the staff of the institution expanded, it employed many experienced doctors from different cities of the Russian Empire. The hospital even had a women’s department, which looked after mothers and their children. Later, a building of the post and telegraph station was opened in front of the hospital.

To understand why the hospital was dedicated to the son of Tsar Alexey, the son of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II, it is necessary to go into the prehistory of the foundation of the Khanate of Khiva and its relations with the Russian Empire. Since ancient times, the trade routes of the East ran through the cities of Khorezm (modern-day Uzbekistan), unfortunately the same routes that the invaders used to get here. The warlike Mongols, who wanted to conquer the new lands, conquered and destroyed many cities in Central Asia.

In the course of time, there was a split among the conquerors that weakened the Golden Horde, it broke up into several parts that began an internal struggle for power. Amir Temur settled in Samarkand and made it the capital of his empire. Later, nomadic Uzbeks arrived in these areas. Successful conquests led to the founding of their own states. Among them, the Khanates of Khiva and Bukhara were particularly prominent. In the Middle Ages, the Great Silk Road passed through Khiva and traders made a stopover in the city. Thanks to this, the city became prosperous and gained prestige, which brought it to the attention of other states.

Peter I also turned his attention to Khiva and tried to persuade the Khan to accept Russian citizenship. However, the expedition of soldiers and diplomats was to suffer a sad fate: Most of the envoys were killed, the rest were sold into slavery. It was not until 1873 that it was possible to raise a large Russian army to take the city. No drastic measures were taken – the khan did not lose his power, but in return the conquerors received half of the khanate’s territory and recognised its protectorate.

It should be noted that the last condition did not greatly affect the khanate’s rights, as the Russian Empire exercised minimal participation in the khanate’s internal processes. Isfandiyar khan, who ruled at the beginning of the 20th century, was rather loyal to Nicholas II. Consequently, the hospital built in 1912 in the Dishan-Kala area of Khiva was named after the Tsar’s only heir.

Places of interest
Medrese Dost Alam in Chiwa

Khiva - Dost Alam Madrasa

Khiva - Dost Alam Madrasa

The Dost Alam Madrasa (1882) was built by the money of Dost Alam, who was a lawyer at the court of the Khan in Khiva Muhammad Rahimkhan II. As a rule, lawyers and jurists were educated in a Madrasa.

The Dost Alam Madrasa in Khiva is a small one-storey building and looks like a rectangle with corner towers when viewed from above. Hudaybergan Haji supervised the construction and Kolondar Kochim was the master builder.

Most of Khiva’s architectural monuments are in the central part, which is called Ichan-Qala. Ichan-Qala is surrounded by huge fortress walls with 4 gates – from the north, south, west and east. The eastern gate is connected to the western one by the main road, where architectural masterpieces are located. This monumental complex is protected by UNESCO.

At the end of the 16th century, the city became the centre of the Khiva Khanate and experienced a second phase of development and prosperity, becoming one of the most important and largest centres of Muslims in the Orient. The city is full of magnificent monuments, among which one can find both secular and religious buildings. In the 19th century, during the Russian invasion of Central Asia, the city was conquered and partially destroyed by Russian troops.

Legends say that the fortress was built from the same clay as Medina, which was built by the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.V.). At the beginning of its development, the city was succeeded by various ruling dynasties, it was repeatedly conquered by warring tribes and at the beginning of the XIIIth century, the troops of Genghis Khan destroyed almost the entire city.

Places of interest
Gandim'yan Darwaza in Chiwa

Khiva - Gandimyan-Darvaza Gate

Khiva - Gandimyan-Darvaza Gate

The Gandimyan-Darvaza Gate was built in 1842 and is part of the Dishan-Kala settlement of Khiva. The Gandimyan-Darvaza Gate took its name from the nearby Kishlak (village) where the Gandimyan Treaty was signed in August 1873, annexing the Khanate of Khiva to Russia. The treaty was the result of a blatantly aggressive military campaign, which in turn was an expression of colonial policy.

Nevertheless, the accession to Russia played a progressive role in the historical destiny of the people of Khorezm. Slavery and the slave trade were abolished, feudalism and internal wars were eliminated, and Russian commercial and industrial capital began to penetrate the khanate, encouraging the development of local productive forces.

The Russian workers and artisans who arrived in Khiva, mostly exiled for “unreliability”, brought Russian culture and revolutionary ideas with them.

During the reconstruction of the cotton factory, the Gandimyan-Darvaza was demolished, but was rebuilt in the 1970s according to surviving sketches and photographs.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala - Khiva

Khiva - Garden in Dishan Kala

Khiva - Garden in Dishan Kala

The Garden in Dishan-Kala in the historical city of Khiva consists of several separate courtyards with high mud walls, a reception room, a recreation courtyard, a harem and other services in the middle of the garden plantations.

The garden had all kinds of grapes, apples, pears, plums, figs, pomegranates, peaches, etc.

The garden was divided into male and female halves and both had havuze (water basins) on whose banks were pergolas and terraces – aiwans. The banks of the havuze, the courtyards, the edges of the gardens and all the paths to them from the city of Khiva were planted with shady hujschumen (spherical elms).

Around this garden were also the gardens of the heirs to the throne and various officials of the khanate. Similar gardens of the feudal nobles of Khiva were scattered in all the nearer suburbs of the city. These gardens were mainly created under Allakuli-Khan.

At the beginning of the XX century, the Nurullabay Garden in Dishan-Kala occupied a central place in the administrative and political life of the city of Khiva. The diwans (administration), the guardhouse and the harem* of Isfandiyar-khan were located there. In the area of this garden, behind the wall of Dishan-Kala, the centre of a new cultural life of Khiva began to emerge.

With the Russian invasion of Central Asia and with the following October Revolution, many buildings and gardens in Ichan-Kala and Dishan-Kala were destroyed.

*Harem (Arabic: حريم‎ ḥarīm, “a sacred inviolable place; harem; female members of the family”) properly refers to domestic spaces that are reserved for the women of the house in a Muslim family. This private space has been traditionally understood as serving the purposes of maintaining the modesty, privilege, and protection of women. A harem may house a man’s wife or wives, their pre-pubescent male children, unmarried daughters, female domestic workers, and other unmarried female relatives. In royal harems of the past, concubines of the prince were also housed in the harem (Source: Wikipedia).

Places of interest
Kunya-Ark in Ichan Qala in Chiwa

Khiva - Harem in Kunya Ark

Khiva - Harem in Kunya Ark

Kunya-Ark is a historical fortress in Khiva, one of the palaces of the Khan in Ichan-Kala. The history of the fortress’s origin is inseparable from the history of Khiva. Only a few buildings from the XIX century remain on the territory of Ark. Here in the Ark, besides the residences of the khans and court officials, there were the state institutions, the mint, the summer and winter mosques, the harem, the armoury, the workshop for the production of bullets and shells, the storehouse, the kitchen, the stables, the zindan and the special area for the fight of the rams, the reception room (Salomchona, Arzchona for the reception, for the processing of complaints and applications).

The harem is located along the northern wall in Kunya-Ark in Khiva and is separated from the rest of the complex by a common high wall with a small entrance (now down). It is an alternation of separate rooms with aiwans extending in a row from west to east, fronted by a common courtyard.

The harem occupied more than half of the total area in the Kunya Ark. Five shaded aiwans separate similar living quarters where the ruler of Khiva lived with his four principal wives. On the other side lived the concubines and servants. The word “harem” goes back to the Arabic word “haram”, i.e. “forbidden”. Entering the area was strictly forbidden for all men except the ruler. However, there was no question of dissolute living, unbridled lust and unrestrained orgies, at least in the Central Asian harems. Rather, modesty characterised the strictly regulated life in the khans’ harems.

The walls inside harems are plastered with gantsch and in some places decorated with carved panels or groups of niches with tracery carvings on gantsch. The aiwans are single-columned and as simply decorated as the rooms. This harem at Kunya-Ark in Khiva was built by Muhammad-Rahimkhan (the latter).

Places of interest
Hasan Murod Qushbegi Mosque in Khiva

Khiva - Hasan Murad Qushbegi Mosque

Khiva - Hasan Murad Qushbegi Mosque

The Hasan Murad Qushbegi Mosque was built in 1800 of the 19th century and is located behind the Musa Tura Madrasah in Khiva. The Hasan Murad Qushbegi Mosque (the head of the Khan’s guard) was built by Hasan Murad Qushbegi together with his relative Shah Niyaz. However, the mosque only bears the name of Hasan Murad Qushbegi.

The Hasan Murad Qushbegi Mosque is located opposite the Amir Tura Madrasah and behind the Musa Tura Madrasah in Khiva. The mosque is small, has a rectangular floor plan, an aiwan with pillars, two khanaka with pillars and an annexe with living quarters adjoining from the north. The complex includes a winter and a summer mosque. A minaret has been erected in the northeast corner. The minaret in the northeast corner has a minaret. Hasan-Murad-Kushbegi has a modest design: the building is walled up without any decoration, the interior is evenly painted in red, black, white and blue colours, including the ceiling.

There is a minaret in the northeast corner, built inside the structure. The mosque was renovated in 1997.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala in Chiwa

Khiva - Ichan Kalа

Khiva - Ichan Kalа

Ichan Kalа is a historical city centre of Khiva, surrounded by walls that served as protection from enemies. Ichan Kala is oriented with its sides to the cardinal points; its length from north to south is about 650 metres, width – about 400 metres, so its area is equal to 26 hectares.

There are four gates leading into the city: the northern gate – Bakhcha-Darvaza, or Urgench Gate; the western gate – Ata-Darvaza; the eastern gate – Palvan-Darvaza (formerly Khazarasp Gate) and the southern gate – Tash-Darvaza or Kunya-Bazar-Darvaza.

Around the fortress runs a former moat, which is better preserved in the southern part. Its walls stand on a high, rather steep earthen berm, which in some places lies entirely beneath the modern cemetery.

The walls, equipped with powerful towers, give the fortress a monumental appearance. The surface level of Ichan Kalа is 3-6 metres higher than that of Dishan Kala (outer city) in Khiva. Judging from a series of cuts in pits, this elevation is made of sand covered with 1 to 1.5 m thick cultural layers.

At the foot of Ichan Kalа hill there are indeed so-called barchan sand pits, which are mentioned in the above-mentioned popular legends about the foundation of Khiva. The walls of Ichan Kalа are low but very thick.

On the inside they are almost vertical and at the height of 6 – 7 metres have a train for the fighters, which is covered in front by a thin two-metre high parapet with embrasures. The walls are steep at the top on the outside and slope steeply in the middle to prevent landslides. The walls are 7-8 metres high. They are thickest at the bottom (5-6 metres).

The width of the wall is 2-2.5 metres. The bulwarks are framed with battlements and have triangular and square embrasures to facilitate aiming. The towers consist of large semi-circular bastions that are solid on the inside and have the same embrasures as the walls, but no embrasures on the front – only on the sides to protect the entrances to the walls.

The towers have no embrasures on the front, but there are some on the sides to protect the entrances to the walls. The walls on the outside were built of simple pakhsa (pakhsa is beaten (pressed) clay used for buildings in Central Asia) in period masonry. This material was apparently made when Muhammad-Amin-Inak restored the walls in the late 19th century.

In the destroyed areas, the underlying masonry is exposed, divided into blocks. This type of masonry divided into block areas is well known from the architectural and fortress buildings of Choresm in the X-XII centuries AD. Chr. but, as we know, has quite ancient traditions.

On the inner side of the wall, the remains of masonry made of mud bricks, size 36 x 36 x 9 cm, 38 x 38 x 10 cm and 37 x 39 x 10 cm, were discovered at the lower end of the wall; horizontal rows of them interspersed with pakhsa layers of 10 – 12 cm thickness.

Above this masonry, up to the foundations, was a very peculiar masonry consisting of square rough brick slabs 50 to 60 cm wide and 5 to 20 cm thick, laid directly in the wet (some of them were badly bent) on a thick mud, causing them to sink into or stick to the wall.

The time of this last masonry is not clear to us, we also find it in relatively late parts of the walls of Khazarasp, but it is not present in any of the monuments that obviously date to the pre-Mongol period.

The correct masonry of large bricks, traces of which can be followed at the foot of the wall, is very close to the construction patterns of the 5th to 8th centuries AD in Khorezm. According to the written sources, Khiva has been known since the 10th century, but archaeological data allow us to state definitively that the city existed within Ichan Kalа since the 6th to 8th centuries AD and maintained its general layout since that time.

Some circumstantial evidence suggests that the origins of the city date back to an older Hellenistic age, to the first centuries before and after the beginning of our era.

The fortress is very well preserved throughout. Only at one point, 60-70 metres east of the Bakhcha-Darvaza Gate, has the edge been dug away for building purposes.

This section of the wall revealed parts of an ancient fortification in the form of polyhedral and circular towers, which stood in the middle of the height of the wall. Both were made of pakhsa, which was broken into blocks from the surfaces.

The importance of the ancient parts of the fortifications can be easily explained by comparing them with the monuments of fortress architecture of the pre-Mongolian period: the ruins of the city of Zamakhshar near the town of Tashauz and the mountains of Uly-Guldursun and Kovat-Kala in the Turtkul region of Karakalpakstan, which were built according to a single system.

In all three cases, the main wall with towers was surrounded by a second wall berm, which had the form of a simple parapet with projections of small semicircular or polyhedral towers. The towers that have been found are the remains of such a wall of the medieval fortification of Khiva. They indicate that Khiva in the X – XII century was very similar in appearance to the above-mentioned fortress ruins. Within Ichan Kala there is only one more or less straight street, which can conventionally be called the main street, connecting the eastern gate Palvan-Darvaza with the western gate Ata-Darvaza.

The rest of the square is covered with a dense and untidy network of narrow streets, alleys and cul-de-sacs. The majority of Khiva’s most architecturally and historically valuable monuments are concentrated in the central part of Ichan Kala; they stretch from east to west in a wide band on both sides of the “main street”.

On the north side of the Palvan Darvaza Gate is the Allakuli-khan Medrese, adjoined to the north by a covered bazaar (tim) and the saray. Opposite the saray on the western side, across the street, is the palace of Allakuli-khan – Tash-Hauli.

To the south, in front of the Palvan Darvaza Gate, are the baths and the Ak Mosque of Anushakh. Some distance to the southwest of the Ak Mosque is the tall minaret of the Islam Khoja with a small madrasa.

West of the Ak Mosque, passing a series of late, simple architectures, madrasas and other buildings, one meets a second tall minaret and a large Kalon Mosque on the left side of the road.

To the south, the blue dome of the Pahlavan Mahmud Gumbez rises in the middle of the cemetery. South of it, across the street, is the Shirgazi-Khan madrasa.

To the west of the Tash-Khauli Palace, along the alley that passes the Muhammad-Amin-Inak Medrese, is the Arab-Khan Medrese. On the north side of the Ata-Darvaza gate is the old citadel of the Khiva Khan Kunya-Ark and on the south side is the two-storey Muhammad-Amin-Khan medrese and the unfinished Kalta Minar or Kuk Minar minaret, resplendent with its tiles.

Places of interest
Residence of Islam Khodja in Khiva

Khiva - Islam Khoja Minaret

Khiva - Islam Khoja Minaret

The Islam Khoja Minaret in Khiva was built in 1908. The entire complex was completed in 1910. The builder of this complex, the vizier Islam Khoja, was an educated and progressive-minded personality.

From west to east, from the Ata Darwaza Gate to the Palvan Darvaza Gate, the city is crossed by a main street about 400 metres long. It is flanked by the façades and side walls of large buildings.

Along its axis are several squares with minarets rising into the sky. In the span of the Koy Darwaza Gate, their entire chain is captured: Abdal Bobo, Palvan Qori, Sayyid Shelkarbiy, Islam Khoja, Juma, Kalta Minor, Bikajanbika.

From these minarets of historical Khiva, the muazzins simultaneously called the faithful to perform a sacred duty – to perform a prayer.

The Islam Khoja Minaret is called the symbol of Khiva and its upward narrowing shape goes back to the early patterns of architecture (Kunya-Urgench, XIV century). Brick masonry alternates with strips of glazed patterns on the minaret. The minaret is 56.6 metres high and 9.5 metres in diameter.

The fate of Islam Khoja, the founder of the madrasa and minaret, was tragic. Unlike most of the Khan’s dignitaries, Isfandiyar-Khan’s father-in-law and the head vizier of the Khanate was an educated and far-sighted man.

Islam Khoja was a repeated visitor to Petersburg, he took an interest in events in the Russian Empire, he understood the need to implement the reforms that time dictated in the Khanate.

He encouraged the development of trade, business and cultural relations with Russia and supported the development of domestic industry. At his insistence, a cotton cleaning factory, hospital, pharmacy, post office and telegraph were built in Khiva; projects were considered to build a railway linking the Khanate of Khiva with Russia.

At the expense of Islam Khoja, the first European-style school was built in the khanate, where mathematics, physics, chemistry and other scientific and humanitarian subjects were taught.

The clergy and the reactionary-minded nobility were hostile to Islam Khoja’s policies and received all his innovations with hostility. Eventually, they managed to win Isfandiyar-khan over to their side. They convinced him that Islam Khoja was a threat to the Khan’s autocracy.

The chief vizier’s fate was sealed. One night, as Islam Khoja was returning to his country estate in a carriage, several unknown men stabbed him and disappeared. However, no one wanted to look for them. The Khan knew about the murder and did not interfere.

Places of interest
Juma Mosque in Khiva, Die Moscheen von Choresm, The Mosques in Khorezm, Les Mosquées de Khorezm, Le moschee di Khorezm, Мечети в Хорезме

Khiva - Juma Mosque

Khiva - Juma Mosque

Among the well-known mosques in Central Asia, the Juma Mosque in Khiva is remarkable for its traditional, sometimes archaic design and spatial structure. It has preserved features of thousand-year-old jame mosques.

The Juma Mosque (Jame) of Khiva, which means jame or Friday Mosque, was one of the most remarkable structures in the city in the Middle Ages and is distinguished by its original architectural forms and volumes.

It resembles the historic mosques of Khorezm. It occupies a large area measuring 55 m x 46 m and is built as a multi-column mosque. The building is located on a major road connecting the eastern and western gates of Ichan-Kala.

The Arab traveller al-Maqdisi (al-Muqaddasi), who was travelling in Khorezm in the 10th century, first mentioned the Juma Mosque in Khiva. But according to the claim of the ancient inhabitants of Khiva, the old mosque was destroyed and in its place the present mosque was built in 1788 with the same ground plan, its area being somewhat enlarged.

It is a huge rectangular hall (45m x 55m) covered with a flat roof; it is surrounded by a massive blank wall with three entrances. In the centre of the south wall is a mihrab niche, a place that indicates the direction of prayer to the faithful.

It was semi-dark in the hall, as the few trap-doors-slits on the roof were absolutely insufficient to light a large room. The exterior view of a mosque is somewhat simplified, the height of its walls is 4.5 metres, the height of its minaret is equal to 42 metres.

The gate of the mosque faces north, while the north wind blows through two large skylights in the middle of the mosque. In ancient times, mulberry trees of the local variety “balkhi” grew under the openings, which at that time ensured the purification of the air inside the mosque, i.e. our fathers and grandfathers thus achieved a harmonious biosynthesis between nature and man.

It should be noted that the mulberry variety “balkhi tut” (or “ak tut” – white mulberry) was planted in the courtyards of many buildings in ancient times. As experts say, the mulberry needs very little water as its roots find water even under the ground.

In this way, our ancestors achieved the integrity and preservation of architectural and residential buildings because the mulberry tree, by collecting moisture around itself, helped to maintain the balance of the distribution of soil moisture in the area and around the building.

The Juma Mosque is a single-storey building with a flat-beam roof supported by 213 columns arranged in a square grid of 3.15 x 3.15 metres. The mihrab of the mosque is located in the centre of the south wall.

On either side of the mihrab are high niches in the wall and the ceiling of the mihrab is slightly higher than the general ceiling of the mosque. The niche of the mihrab arch is painted in green paint and the pillars are painted in black and red with images of trees, shrubs, rosehips and irises, which were created in the late 18th and early 20th centuries.

Inscriptions are carved on the marble slabs placed on either side of the mihrab, in one of them, dated 1203 of the Hidzhra (1788 – 1789) is written a Waqf letter made in connection with the donation of property and funds for the mosque.

It states that by order of the vizier Abdurahman (Mihtar) in 1203, Waqf lands were allocated to Hijra in the villages of Kuyuktam (Goktam, now a settlement in the district of Kozhkupyr in the Khoresm region) and Bekabad for a mosque, the proceeds of which were to be spent on charity and needs of the mosque.

The second marble slab is slightly smaller and bears a chronogram (tarih) showing the year 1080 Hijra (i.e. 1666). There are opinions among the local population that the mosque was restored at the end of the 18th century.

This is confirmed by inscriptions on the carved doors of the mosque’s south façade. They report that the mosque was restored in 1788 – 1789 under the direction of a person named Abdurahman Mihtar.

According to studies by the Arab geographer Muqaddasiy, the Juma Mosque dates back to the 10th century. This mosque is unique in its structure; it has no portals, domes, galleries or courtyards. The mosque is accessible from three sides.

On the north side of the mosque, Palvon Qori Street opens with its 33-metre-high minaret. The ceiling of the great hall is supported by 213 wooden pillars. There are small holes in the ceiling for light and ventilation. The south wall has stalactite niches and on the right side is a marble tablet indicating income and property.

In 1996 – 1997 the Juma Mosque was restored and during the restoration many worn columns were replaced.

Places of interest

Khiva - Kalta Minor

Khiva - Kalta Minor

One of the most famous minarets of Khiva is the unfinished Kalta Minor (also called Kuk Minaret or Unfinished Minaret) by Muhammad Aminkhan. The shape of the minaret is a kind of truncated cone, which looks very impressive even when unfinished. There are many stories and legends among the local people about what happened.

It is said that the Khan of Khiva ordered a large and tall minaret to be built in the city: “One should be able to see Bukhara from the minaret”. The Emir of Bukhara, who had heard about this, came to the master who built the minaret, spoke to him and promised to give a lot of money; he planned to build the similar tower in Bukhara too. The Khan of Khiva heard about it and ordered the master builders to be thrown out of the tower after the construction work was finished. The Khan did not want the same minaret to be built elsewhere. When they learned this, they built wings or knotted a rope and used this rope to climb down and escape, or so the myths and legends tell us.

Assuming dynamic contraction from the Kalta Minor in Khiva, it should reach a height of about 100 metres when completed and be the largest and tallest minaret in the world. The current tallest minaret is in Delhi, it is the Qutub Minar with a height of 72.5 metres, 15.5 metres diameter, 2.5 metres diameter at the top (Kalta Minor in Khiva has a diameter of 14.5 metres, is 29 metres high and 15 metres deep at the base).

The top of the minaret is reached by a staircase from a second-floor level, i.e. one can access the minaret via wooden spiral ladder steps leading upwards. These ladder steps have been restored from time to time.

The construction of the Kalta Minor was started in 1853 by Muhammad Aminkhan and stopped in 1855 after the assassination of the Khan during the campaign from Khiva to Northern Iran and the accession of Abdullakhan.

The missing inscriptions in Arabic script in Farsi, on majolica, which had fallen off the top of the minaret over time, were restored in 1997, on the eve of the 2500th anniversary of the city of Khiva.

Rustam Tahirov, master restorer of majolica art, restored the letters on the majolica. The content of their text is approximately as follows: “A tall minaret has been erected that brings joy to the human soul. Heaven has not yet seen such a thing. Its glory has reached the emirs of the earth. Its sides are free from faults and shortcomings. If you look at it with the eyes of righteousness, the cypress tree before it will be like fine straw. It is better than the tubo tree to soothe the hearts. Its beautiful appearance has changed the face of earth and sky like a paradise. It has become a kind of pillar of heaven that the mind cannot comprehend”.

For this reason, the poet Muhammad Reza Agakhi wrote the year of its construction: “The Endless Pillar of Heaven, built in the year of Hijrah 1271 (1855)”. About the construction of the minaret, Mullah Alim Makhdum Hoji writes the following in his work “History of Turkestan”: “After the completion of the construction of the madrasa, a decree was issued by order of the Khan about the construction of the highest minaret near the madrasa.

During the continuation of the construction of the minaret (1855), Muhammad Aminkhan undertakes a campaign in Iran and dies as a martyr (Shahid), as a result of which the minaret he started to build remains unfinished.

In fact, the story of this event is as follows: Muhammad Aminkhan was killed in the Hijrah year 1271, on the second day of the week, Dushanbe (Monday), of the month of Jumadul Okhir in the territory of Qonlitepa, which is under the Serakhs.

He was about thirty-five years old when the Turkmen killed him and cut off his head, which was taken to Tehran, the Shah’s palace, along with his headdress (kulakh), crown and other things on the fifteenth day of that month.

But Nasriddinshah was not pleased with this act of the Turkmen. Because the ruler of Khivak and the son of the Khan of Khorezm, starting from his fathers and grandfathers, and the Shah of Iran served Allah faithfully and respected the fundamentals of Imam Mawlai Hanif Ahmadiyya, in the interest of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.V. ), (he) without much hesitation, issued the decree of the Shah to build a mausoleum with a high dome in Tehran, near the central gate of the state, in which all his belongings and provisions were buried along with the Khan’s head, a memorial prayer from the Quran was recited and donations were given to the poor and needy to appease his spirits.

The basis of the story of Qonlitepa is that Muhammad Aminkhan made a military campaign (chapovul) every year to punish the disobedient Turkmen of Merv and Serakhs, including the Iranians.

In one of these campaigns, at the battle of Qonlitepa, a person named Niyazkhan ibn Urazkhan Serakhsi beheaded the Khan and seized his possessions and equipment. Among the viziers and commanders, 14 persons who were half-brothers of father’s side, a total of 32 persons, were killed in the battle. Among them, the Qozi of Khorezm, Bekchan Divanbegi, Khudayarbiy, Abdulla Mahram, Davlatyarbiy, Bekchan Sardar, Niyazkuli Mingbashi, Allakuli Yuzbashi, Haknazar Mingbashi, Davlatyaz Yuzbashi, who came to the rescue at the head of 1000 horsemen.

Bekmurad and Muhammad Sheikh Arbab repeatedly raided (chapovul) Khorasan with 2000 horsemen. Of these, 70 men were killed. Jafar Okai, who was the ruler and his vizier Mirahmad Jamshidi, they were both seriously wounded.”

Nevertheless, even in this state, the minaret looks majestic and beautiful. It is decorated with majolica tiles in different colours. At the beginning of our century, after glorifying it, people nicknamed it “Ulli minar” (“The Great Minaret”). “Kok minar” (“Blue Minaret”).

Contemporaries described Muhammad Aminkhan thus. Mirza Rizakulihan Sherozi Lalabash, who came as ambassador from the side of the Shah of Iran, tells it this way in his Book of Travels: “In this vilayat there are no brawls, quarrels, thefts or refusal to return borrowed money.

No one argues with another, even raises his voice. If a person, no matter what class he belongs to, has something to communicate, he can go to His Highness, Khan Muhammad Aminkhan and voice his concern (complaint) without any obstacles.

If it is a secular matter, he takes the decision himself, but if it is a Shariah matter, he entrusts it to the Qozi Kalon. The Imam has no other claim on other people’s property.

When it comes to zakat, he charges one out of forty parts; he does not oppress in matters of money. Everything is cheap in this land, the fruits are plentiful and very tasty and their melons are excellent, the fruits of the mulberry (tut) are tastier than in Shamran and the anjirs (figs) are better than in Mazandaran.

But the grapes are not so good. The farms and canals are full of water. The Khan of Khiva took it upon himself to provide water and land for his subjects. Each of them was allotted a tanap of land, each of them who went on a journey was given a horse, and each of them was given two camels to load their loads for the journey.

Therefore, his ten thousand soldiers, who know nothing of it (from the enemies), will appear as thirty thousand and will strike fear into the hearts of the strangers. The area around the palace (of Urda) they dig up.

If anyone’s horse or camel dies on the march, the owner is compensated for the loss in money of its value, and each person returning from the march receives five tomans. The salary of each man does not exceed fifty tomans.

For this reason the Vilayat is prosperous and its coffers are never empty,” he concludes his description of the behaviour and manners of the local people. Muhammad Aminkhan’s madrasa was restored and converted into a hotel in 1979.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala - Chiwa

Khiva - Kaptarkhon minaret

Khiva - Kaptarkhon minaret

The Kaptarkhon minaret was built in the 19th century and is located on the site of the neighbourhood mosque of the same name in Khiva. In the upper part there are four openings from which the Muazzin read “Azan”.

The minaret is built of baked bricks and decorated with patterned brickwork, only the cornice has a band of blue tiles.

The Kaptarkhon minaret in Khiva is 8 metres high and 2 metres in diameter.

The minarets were originally built as lookout towers and landmarks for travellers. After the arrival of Islam in Central Asia, the minarets were used for the calls to prayer. Minarets then appeared on every town around the Jome mosques. The number of large and small minarets in Khiva was originally about a hundred, nowadays their number does not exceed 20.

Every time the elders told about the minarets, the question arose how big the foundations of the monuments are, whether it is possible that some of them have a conical shape? Perhaps the most surprising thing about the stories is that the foundations of the minaret extend over a large distance and are many times larger than the cross-section of the hull of the minaret itself.

Researchers from the Mamun Academy of Khorezm (Uzbekistan), led by Dr Durdiyeva, conducted a comprehensive (structural) study of the technical condition of the structures of the minaret of Saidniyaz Shalikarbay. The complex (minaret, mosque and small madrassa) Saidniyaz Shalikarbay is an example of late feudal architecture of Khorezm and is located outside the fortress wall at the eastern gate of Ichan-Kala. This complex was built in 1834-1835 at the funds of merchant Saidniyaz Shalikarbay. The construction was directed by Usto Muhammad-Rahim.

After the successful attempt to uncover the foundation of the minaret, Saidniyaz Shalikarbay carried out measurement work. It is surprising that the basement was of small size, consisting of 4 well-masoned square brick steps on mud mortar, built on a platform of fragments of the same brick. Its size is h=1.24 metres in height, and the indentation from the minaret level to the edge of the foundation is about =1.20 metres. Therefore, we are convinced that the builders anticipated the characteristic changes that contributed to the deformation that occurred at the base of the monument, as it can negatively affect both the construction of the foundation and the minaret as a whole.

Places of interest
Khazarasp-Darvaza in Khiva

Khiva - Khazarasp Darvaza Gate

Khiva - Khazarasp Darvaza Gate

The Khazarasp-Darvaza gate was rebuilt in 1842 from burnt bricks during the construction of the Dishan-Kala walls in Khiva during the reign of Allakuli-Khan.

The gate consists of two large observation towers located on the sides of a wide passageway on the road to Yangiarik. Above the passage is an arched gallery with a railing on the sides, the top of which is decorated with battlements.

Although it is the only decorative detail of the gateway, the construction is impressive for its expressive forms. The gate connects Khiva with the settlements of Yangiarik, Bagat, Khanka and Khazarasp.

Dimensions of the Khazarasp-Darvaza Gate in Khiva according to the plan: 23.5 x 6.5 metres, height: 12.2 metres.

Unlike Ichan-Kala, which retained almost all of its external appearance, only some of the gates remained from the outer defensive walls, notably the Khazarasp-Darvaza Gate, 500 metres from the north gate of Ichan-Kala (Bagcha-Darvaza), as well as the Khazarasp-Darvaza Gate and the Gandimyan-Darvaza Gate. Allakuli-khan built the outer wall in 1842 to protect against attacks by the Yomuds (one of the Turkmen tribes). According to the poet and translator Agahi, Allakuli-khan built the Dishan-Kala walls in 3 years and forced all his subordinates to work for free for 12 days a year. More than 200 thousand people participated in the construction of the wall. The dimensions of the outer wall were as follows: Length – 5650 m, height – 6-8 metres, thickness at the bottom – 4-6 metres.

It is interesting to know where so much clay was taken from to build the walls. The research revealed that the clay was extracted two kilometres north of the city, in the area called Govuk-kul; today there is a large lake there. And even today, the local clay of excellent quality is used by modern potters. Legend has it that when the Prophet Muhammad (SAV) built Medina, clay from this area was used, and the lake that was later created is considered sacred.

Places of interest

Khiva - Kibla Tozabog residence

Khiva - Kibla Tozabog residence

The Kibla Tozabog residence is one of the summer residences of the rulers of Khiva and is located southwest of the city, at a relatively short distance of two kilometres. The area of the palace is half a hectare and it was built during the reign of the Kungrat dynasty of Khiva.

The summer residence was built for the dynasty’s eleventh representative, Muhammad Rahim-khan II. The Khan himself was 52 years old at that time, he inherited the throne at the young age of 19 and for the long years of the reign has had the time to build the considerable spiritual educational institutions, the mosques, the various buildings of civic appointment. In particular, the ruler of Khiva founded the largest in Central Asia, unsurpassed in scale, madrasa, which bears his name to this day.

The name of the residence Kibla Tozabog is translated as “pure garden” and indeed, there is so much greenery on its territory that creates freshness, beds of flowers that really decorate this place. In the architecture of the buildings and interiors, one can feel the influence of Western civilisation. According to the fashion of the time, the ruler of Khiva involved the architects from Russia and other countries in the construction. But the oriental styles have also been preserved. The residence is surrounded by a fortress wall, which is reinforced with watchtowers. The entrance to the residence is through a gateway with ornate carved decorations.

Kibla Tozabog – a suburban residence of the Khan in Khiva, whose construction began in 1897, unites in a single complex three unequal in area courtyards. Each courtyard was built with spacious, two-storey houses, the facades decorated with wooden columns traditionally decorated with intricate carvings. Impressive overlaps – the Aiwans also had ornately carved railings and pillars. On sunny, hot days, he himself liked to stroll across the rationally designed ceilings of the Khiva Khan accompanied by his entourage. The entire perimeter of the palace buildings was densely packed with a variety of services.

The three courtyards of Kibla Tozabog are not similar to each other. The central place in the first one is occupied by the fountain with the artificial pond surrounding it, which in turn is framed by flowerbeds. Here there is also a spacious hall for receiving guests and ambassadors, the interior of which is designed strictly in the European style (in particular, the room has large bright windows, which are not typical of the Orient).

Places of interest
Kosch-Darwaza Tor in chiwa

Khiva - Kosh Darvaza Gate

Khiva - Kosh Darvaza Gate

The Kosh-Darvaza Gate was built in Khiva in the early 20th century and is the northern gate of Dishan-Kala, at the entrance from the Urgench road.

It is also a multi-chambered, spatially open structure in the roadway, with façades facing south and north.

In plan, the Kosh-Darvaza Gate in Khiva is rectangular, asymmetrically composed, with enclosed spaces on the sides of the double carriageway, arranged as a square space and closed by four domes supported by a central column. The semi-circular arches are wide open: two bays to the carriageway below them from the outside and two bays inside, freely communicating with each other. The façades of the passageways are flanked by mighty towers connected by arcature – Ravak – at the top between the blue domes of the corner towers.

The composition of the main facades is identical, the facades of the side rooms are empty and architecturally undeveloped. The spaces are different: the west wing extends along the gate side, connected to the passage of the passages and has independent exits to the main facades. The east wing has two rectangular rooms connected to the driveway, with doorways to the side and main facades. The entrances to the rooms, which could have served as guardrooms, court and customs offices, are decorated with western pointed arch niches of the main façades.

The dome bays of the roadway are covered with single spherical domes on mock spheres. The side rooms have flat beamed ceilings.

The main facades of the gateway are decorated with horizontal bands of brick mosaics on the towers and on the top of the Ravak. The domes crowning the towers are covered with blue tiles. The interiors are plastered and whitewashed. Dimensions: overall – 25.0 x 17.0 m; height – 9.45 m; the span of the passage arches – 4.2 m.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala - Khiva

Khiva - Kurinish khana

Khiva - Kurinish khana

The Kurinish-khana in Khiva was begun to be built by Eltazar-Khan under the direction of his chief advisor Yusuf-Mikhtar. It is a separate courtyard surrounded by a common low earthen wall.

One enters it through the single, rather narrow door in the eastern wall and enters the courtyard with a circular brick terrace in the middle, which was intended for the construction of the yurt.

In this yurt, the Khans of Khiva received Turkmen and Karakalpak Sardars and Biys, deliberately adapted to their tastes and nomadic traditions. To the left of the entrance, on the southern side of the courtyard, is a beautiful aiwan on a brick platform supported by two carved pillars.

The walls of Aiwan are entirely lined with painted bricks, with greenish-white flowers on a blue background. Under the ceiling of the Aiwan is a solid volume of poetry in Uzbek.

The ceiling of the aivan was restored in 1934 and redecorated with multi-coloured plant patterns. In the southern wall of the aivan are three exits with carved doors leading into the interior of the reception or throne room.

The narrow throne room extends the entire length of the aivan. In the short western wall from the Kurinish-khana, an alcove was made for the khan to sit, while the rest of the room was for the guests in Khiva.

Places of interest

Khiva - Kutlug Murad Inak madrasa

Khiva - Kutlug Murad Inak madrasa

Kutlug Murad Inak is the first two-storey madrasa in Khiva, built according to the scheme of Bukhara, with some simplifications of the structure, large halls of the Darskhona were omitted, there are no deep aiwans in the courtyard, hujshras were built in their place.

Bumpy domed benches were removed in front of the main facade. Its flat paved roof served as a parade ground in front of the entrance to the madrasa. There is an interesting story about the construction of the tomb of Kutlug Murad Inak, who wanted him to be buried in the madrasa he built, like most rulers of Khiva.

But he died in Dishan-Kala, and it was decided that it was not a good sign to carry the deceased through the city gates to Ichan-Kala. And so the clergy resorted to a trick: the walls of Ichan-Kala at the east gate were destroyed and the madrasa was in the territory of Dishan-Kala.

The body was carried through a hole in the wall and buried in the madrasa under the floor of the central room. In the courtyard of the madrasa is a spring – the sardoba – which is covered with a dome. The corner towers of the main façade are decorated with glazed and terracotta tiles with embossed patterns.

According to the inscriptions on the carved doors, the madrasa was built in 1804 – 1812 by the uncle of Khan Khiva Allakulikhan, the ruler of the region (Muzofot) Kungrad, a military leader Kutlug Murad Inak.

The madrasa has two floors, 81 hujrasas for the students, a comfortable darskhona and a mosque. In the courtyard of the madrasa is an underground structure in the form of a sardaba (water basin), which is locally called “teyi zamin” (an underground water basin).

Most of the city’s population (Ichan-kala) used to get their drinking water from this underground water basin. For the madrasa, 24634 tanaps of the land was allocated as Waqf grant.

The craftsmen from Khiva, who built a two-storey madrasa for the first time in the rebuilt city, tried to take an example from already known models. They relied on a complex structure of the madrasa Abdulazizkhan in Bukhara.

In order to save costs, the architects who built the madrasa simplified its structure somewhat, dispensing with summer aiwans as well as two large rooms at the wings of the portal. Instead, they contented themselves with the construction of ordinary cells.

The masters of Khiva introduced an innovation into the old complex, i.e. they decorated the portals of the courtyard with patterns. Within the eastern portal of the madrasa is a summer mosque, above which a wooden bolakhona is placed at the level of the second floor.

The elements of innovation can be seen in their composition: the northern and southern bolakhonas (native “talaq” – light superstructure above the ground floor) are wider than the western and eastern ones. In this way, an attempt was made to make the courtyard look more picturesque.

The Kutlug Murad Inak madrasa differed from the earlier madrasas built in Khiva, which resembled a fortress in shape, by having a more luxurious facade. Such a result was achieved thanks to the device on the portal of pentathedral arches and Bukhara-style niches and by increasing the number of different ornaments.

The carved gates of the madrasa are noteworthy, as well as the doors of the mosque and the Darskhona. Each door is a remarkable example of the high art of wood carving.

The surfaces around the vaults are decorated with a variety of majolica, while the corner towers of the madrasa are decorated with exactly the same majolica; the examples of ganch carvings inside the portal give it a beautiful appearance.

Although all these architectural elements alter to some extent the overall appearance of the building, the openings and the tall, strong corner towers that adorn the two wings of the main façade give the structure a fortress-like appearance.

Although the masters tried to introduce some innovations in the decoration of the exterior façades based on the new plan, we do not notice such a circumstance inside the madrasa. The mosque and the Darskhona are also very simplified and do not have any decorations. Only on the dome of the Myonsaray and the dome of the Summer Mosque are there isolated examples of simple ornamentation.

The rest of the madrasa rooms are similar hujshrasas in the form of a rectangular quadrilateral, covered with a balkhi vault. The hujschras are lit by daylight through panjara windows above the entrance doors.

There are also niches and supas (elevations for sitting and resting) in the hujras. Some hujras have shelves made of wood in the shape of the second floor, which occupy almost half of the hujras and are used to store food and necessary household items.

The Kutlug Murad Inak Madrasa is the only madrasa in Khiva to use the embossed terracotta characteristic of Bukhara architecture, which decorates the corner towers of the madrasa.

For its time, the madrasa was a great place of knowledge and the following information has been preserved about its activities: “In 1275 (Hijra), on the fourth day of the month of Safar (13 September 1858), 1880 batman of grain were taken from the Kutlug Murad Inak madrasa on the basis of Waqf and distributed as follows – “to the poor as ‘Ushr’ (tithes) or Kavsan (donation to the poor) 50 batman (the batman of Khiva is equivalent to 20 kg. ), a mutevelli for 180 batman, a farrash (cleaner) for 50 batman, a barber for 30 batman, two akhun for 324 batman, a muazzin with the imam of the mosque for 130 batman and the remaining 1. 160 Batman were distributed among students, For higher students (29 of them) 21 Batman each, making a total of 616 Batman, for middle students (18 of them) 10.5 Batman each, making a total of 191 Batman, and for lower students (48 of them) 5 Batman each, making a total of 255 Batman. As per this document, there were 95 students in this madrasa in 1858 and they were taught by 2 akhuns.

There were also the Mutavalli (the person authorised to run the madrasa), the Imam, the Azanchi (Muazzin), the Farrash (cleaner who cleans and keeps clean the premises of the madrasa) and the Barber who shaves the beard and moustache of the students in this madrasa.

There was a large square in front of the madrasa, surrounded by rows of stalls and a small market. The students who graduated from the madrasa passed exams. The special commission (khayat) was appointed by the Khan. The members of the commission were sometimes the khan himself, in most cases the heir to the throne, the kazi-kalon (chief magistrate), the kazi-urda (municipal magistrate) and a number of scholars-ulama.

The students who passed the examinations were given the titles of Mufti, A’lam, Ahund, Mukarrir (a teacher who conducted practical lessons and repeated the studied subjects with the students, who also performed the duties of a madrasa librarian – Kitabdar).

Among the graduates were poets, historians, writers, calligraphers, scholars and educated people. The well-known Uzbek poet Avaz Utar and the Karakalpak poet Berdakh studied at the Kutlug Murad Inak Madrasa in Khiva.

On the 18th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the madrasa was restored and a permanent exhibition of famous masters of fine arts from Khorezm was opened there.

A total of 52 paintings by Khorezm artists depicting the life, lifestyle, culture and customs of Khorezm are on display. Among the paintings are the works of famous artists Tura Kuryazov, Kichko, Khudaiberganov and A. Allaberganov. The area of the madrasa is 140 square metres.

In the courtyard of the Kutlug Murad Inak madrasa are the workshops of the artisans of Khiva.

Places of interest
Madrasa Islam Khodja in Khiva

Khiva - Madrasa Islam Khoja

Khiva - Madrasa Islam Khoja

The most remarkable structures of the historical part of Khiva are the minaret and the madrasa, part of the Islam Khoja building complex. According to the architect’s ingenious idea, the attractiveness of the structures comes from their unusual contrast: the highest minaret in the city is next to the tiny madrasa. Thus, the minaret appears simply gigantic due to the visual effect of being next to each other. The minaret was originally meant to serve as a landmark for travellers approaching the city; originally, this architectural landmark was meant to serve as a kind of lighthouse.

The Islam Khoja Madrasa (1910) is located behind the Islam Khoja Minaret. Islam Khoja, the Grand Vizier of Isfandiyar Khan, was a very progressive man. Besides the minaret and the madrasa, he opened a school for local children, a hospital, a post office and built bridges and roads.

However, Islam Khoja’s building activities were brought to an end by a dastardly murder involving Isfandiyar-khan. He was buried alive in the ground and the architect Raimbergen was also murdered.

This madrasa in Khiva was built with the money of Islam Khoja, the advisor of Isfandiyar Khan. Masters from the village of Madir Bolta Vaizov and Madiminov carried out the completion of the madrasa with glazed tiles based on designs by Esh-Muhammad Khudaiberdiev.

The Islam Khoja Madrasa is a unique architectural complex in Khiva, reflecting the influence of the times and the spirit of creative inspiration of the national masters. The madrasa consists of 42 hujrasas, a large domed hall and a tall minaret.

The mastery of the architects is evident in the contrasting combinations of architectural forms skilfully used in the limited space. The mihrab niche is decorated with majolica and ganch carvings.

The Islam Khoja Madrasa is much smaller, asymmetrical in plan and has a main entrance just outside the Islam Khoja Minaret in Khiva. The interior is represented by a rather spacious hall under the central dome, forty-two hujshras (cells) along the perimeter of the courtyard. A mosque adjoins the central building from the southeast. The dome of the structure is deep and massive; the mihrab (a niche indicating the direction to Mecca) and the entire interior are decorated with majolica and elaborately patterned ganch. The outer part of the madrasa at the entrance is decorated in the same style as the adjacent majestic minaret. The gateway structure forms the second floor.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala - Khiva

Khiva - Madrasa Mamat Maram

Khiva - Madrasa Mamat Maram

The Mamat Maram madrasa was built in Khiva in 1903. Located at the intersection of Baltayev and Anash Khalfa streets, the madrasa was built by one of the most influential officials and advisors of Muhammad Rahim-khan II.

The Madrasa and Mosque Mamat Maram represent a typical complex of Khiva. The site of the madrasa comprises 7327 tanaps (1 tanap is 334.4 square metres). The building is constructed of baked bricks.

The façade faces south with a slight offset to the west. The three corners, except the southwest corner, have small towers – guldastas. In the southwest corner, the side rooms of the mosque and the minaret project, adjoining the two-domed straight vestibule.

Khudaybergen Ibn Koshmuhammad Khivaki on Khiva:

“Khorezm is a vast country in the fifth climatic zone, with cool weather. The capital was the city of Urgench from the time of the ancient Persian kings 11 until twenty years ago. In modern times, as a result of the removal of Jayhun, the capital of the region has been moved to Khiva, which is under its control. Khiva is a spacious city with a healthy climate, the birthplace of Sheikh Najm ad-Din Kubra. Nowadays, this land is not as prosperous as it used to be. It is ruled by a descendant of Tukai-Timur-khan, a son of Juchi-khan, and his army consists of Uzbeks called Saka Turkman, who are descendants of the Guz tribe. It is said that the vastness of Khorezm was such that the land under his control was divided into one hundred and seventy tumans. Now only two of these tumans have been improved. The people of Choresm are brave, strong, sensitive, intelligent and never outnumbered in battle”.

Places of interest

Khiva - Madrasah Khodjamberdiboy

Khiva - Madrasah Khodjamberdiboy

The Madrasah Khodjamberdiboy (1688 – 1834) was built in 1688 in Ichan Kala near the eastern gate Palvan Darvaza, in front of the madrasah of Allakuli Khan in Khiva. In 1834, Allakuli-khan built a new large mosque and partially demolished and rebuilt the existing one.

This created two small courtyards separate from each other and the madrasah was named Khurjun because it resembled a leather saddle bag, Khurjun. There are 16 hujras and a vaulted quadratic room – Darskhona. The entrance doors are decorated with wooden carvings.

The Madrasah Khodjamberdiboy is a one-storey brick building built in 1688, as mentioned by the inscription on the carved doors.

The Madrasah apparently got its name “Khurjun” after the construction of the Allakuli-Khan Madrasah in Khiva, when a large peshtak of Khodjamberdiboy was dismantled and replaced by a low passage. The Madrasah appeared as if it was divided into two parts, like a Khurjun (saddlebag).

We can only guess about the modest architectural merits of the madrasah Khodjamberdiboy, because the only thing that remained of it and was integrated into the new madrasah is a mosque located in the southern part and interconnected rooms. In size and design, the mosque is close to the hujra, only the square floor plan, the mihrab niche and the dome covering filled with honeycomb in the corners distinguish it from the ordinary madrasah rooms. To create a passage to the portal of the Allakuli Khan madrasah, the old domes of the hujras of the Khodjamberdiboy madrasah were dismantled, the low walls were filled with earth and the small courtyards were laid out along the sides of a newly formed path – a ramp. The Madrasah was divided into two parts like Kurjun sacks (the name was later given to the reconstructed Madrasah). The old portal was dismantled and the new entrance was designed as a modest single-domed Darvazakhana, combining entrances to courtyards and a ramp to the portal of the Allakuli-khan Madrasah.

From the outside, the madrasah is built in such a way that the roof of its low hujras continues to cover the floor of the Allakuli-khan madrasah, and the entire Khurjun madrasah looks like a kind of platform (sufa) in front of the main façade of the majestic Allakuli-khan madrasah.

The internal layout of the Khurjun Madrasah is haphazard, the wall thickness varies from 0.5 to 3 metres, the entrances to the hujras from the northern and southern courtyards do not have arched niches and are not united in any particular rhythm, the size and proportions of the hujras are arbitrary. All this is explained by the complicated conditions of the reconstruction of the madrasahs.

Places of interest
Medrese Matniyaz Divan Begi in Chiwa

Khiva - Matniyaz Divan Begi Madrasah

Khiva - Matniyaz Divan Begi Madrasah

The Matniyaz Divan Begi Madrasah (1871) is located in Khiva, in front of the eastern wall of the Muhammad Rahimkhan Madrasah. The madrasa was built by Muhammad Rahimkhan II’s finance minister (Divan Begi), Muhammad Niyaz.

As the finance minister of Khiva, Khan Muhammad Niyaz (Matniyaz in dialect) Divan Begi built a madrasah in the central part of Ichan-kala and a covered Chorsu bazaar next to it. Matniyaz Divan Begi Madrasah is located near the Muhammad Aminkhan Madrasah.

The façade faces west centrally and the area in front is landscaped and planted. The central street of Ichan-Kala runs north of the madrasa, and the newly constructed “Khiva” restaurant building, located in the madrasa building, borders the mausoleum of Seyyid Alauddin to the south.

The madrasah is single-storey in structure (except for the portal part), has 21 cells, premises for Darskhona (lecture hall) and winter mosque. During the period when the madrasa was active, the library for the students of the madrasa was located here.

Of the 21 hujjras, 19 were on the ground floor and the other two hujjras were on the second floor, behind the entrance portal. The entrance to the madrasa was through a small three-winged mionsaray (vestibule).

The entrance could be entered through a small three-storey minaret (vestibule). The madrasah was traditionally built with corner guldasta towers flanking the four corners. The façade on the north side has shallow arcades, the rest of the façades, except the central one, are without arches.

The Madrasah has a rectangular shape that extends from west to east. The main façade faces the Muhammad Rahimkhan madrasah and has a tall portal with five-sided niches in the centre and towers in the corners.

The portal is decorated with majolica, the domes of the towers are covered with green glazed tiles and the bases have a geometric pattern of blue, white and green tiles.

The main decoration is on the portal, on the central façade, in majolica tiles with “islimi” floral patterns as well as similar patterns, which are only carved now, on the double-leaf entrance door.

On a marble slab placed in the cartouche above the entrance door is an inscription in Arabic script. During the time the madrasah was active, 42 students studied here. Since 1979, the Matniyaz Divan Begi madrasah has been used as a restaurant and, together with the Muhammad Aminkhan madrasah (as a tourist hotel), forms the “Khiva” tourist complex, which is suitable for both local and foreign tourists.

The general dimensions of the madrasa: length 36.4 m, width 31.8 m. The courtyard of the madrasa, length 21 metres, width 17 metres.

Places of interest
Matpanabay Medrese in Chiwa

Khiva - Matpanabay Madrasah

Khiva - Matpanabay Madrasah

The Matpanabay Madrasah (1905) is located north of the Juma Mosque in Khiva. This madrasah was built by one of the rich merchants of the Matpanabay Madrasah Khanate in 1905.

The construction of the Matpanabay Madrasah was carried out by the best craftsmen of Khiva, Khudaybergen Hodji and Kalandar Kochum. The portal of the madrasa faces east and there is a corridor on the south side for access to the madrasa. Viewed from above, the madrasa appears symmetrical along its central east-west axis, with one detail: a room in the northwest corner is missing.

The main façade has a small portal and an indistinct relief dividing the arcade into niches. The madrasa has more than ten hujrasas for the students, a darskhona and a domed mosque in the south. The descendants of Matpanabay live in the city of Tashauz, in Turkmenistan.

In 2001, the exposition of the museum of the history of “Avesta” was opened in the rooms of the madrasa, dedicated to the 2700th anniversary of the creation of this famous book of the ancient Khorezmians. “Avesta” is not only an invaluable historical work that recorded the religious views and concepts of our ancestors, but also a unique historical source, at the same time it is revered by the world scientific community as an invaluable historical heritage.

In view of this, the international organisation UNESCO decided at its 30th session in Paris in November 1999 to celebrate the 2700th anniversary of Avesta in a big way.

The anniversary celebrations took place in the homeland of Avesta in Uzbekistan, more precisely in Khorezm. Visiting the museum “Avesta” you will get a lot of information about the oldest history, way of life, rites and customs, spiritual culture, science and other areas concerning the life of the peoples of Central Asia and the Orient in general.

Places of interest
Mausoleum Said Muhammad Mahir in Khiva

Khiva - Mausoleum Said Muhammad Mahir

Khiva - Mausoleum Said Muhammad Mahir

The Said Muhammad Mahir Mausoleum is located in Khiva and is valued as the family tomb of the Khiva Khans. The memorial complex consists of three groups of monumental structures, including the tombs of some Khiva-Khans. Syed Muhammad-khan, Muhammad Rahim-khan II (Feruz) and his grandson Temur Gazi Tura, son of Isfandiyar-khan were buried here.

Three years of restoration work helped to reconstruct the building which was destroyed by time. In this work the restorers added new puzzles of decoration. During the excavation of the graves here, several people buried by without proper rites were found. Perhaps these people were the first preachers of Islam in these areas. Scientists disagree, and on the date of construction of each element of the complex. They have proved that the construction was carried out in two stages. The oldest part of the complex is Mausoleum and it is the oldest preserved religious building in Central Asia.

In special vaults around the mausoleum Said Muhammad Mahir are the tombs of the descendants of the Khans of Khiva, their wives and children. According to legend, a Sufi sheikh named Chadirli Eshon once lived here.

After his death, he was buried there and the cemetery that later developed near his tomb became known as Chadirli Eshon. Almost all the elements of the mausoleum (domes, walls, stepped trumpets) are made of mud bricks without external decoration and the tombstones are covered with majolica in the traditional style of the XIV century Khorezm.

The main façade is covered with mosaics and sides are decorated with turrets guldasta, which gives the impression of monumentality. The side facades are embellished with arched entrances. The portal of the building has a non-traditional elongated shape. Thanks to its location, as well as the presence of a large hall with good acoustics, it was the centre of Khiva’s cultural life for many centuries.

In 1825, the building was drastically restored on the orders of Allakulikhan, so that the present appearance of the mausoleum refers to the period of the new rebirth of architecture in Khorezm (first half of the 19th century).

In the second half of the XIX century, Sayyid Muhammad-khan ordered the mausoleum to be built over the Sheikh’s tomb. As a result, the complex turned into a family tomb of the Khiva-Khans.

Places of interest
Medrese Mazari Sharif in Chiwa

Khiva - Mazari Sharif Madrasa

Khiva - Mazari Sharif Madrasa

The Mazari Sharif Madrasa (1882) is located in Khiva, southeast of the Pahlavan Mahmud complex. It was built by the master Qalandar Kachim on the orders of Muhammad Rahimkhan II. The Atajanbay madrasa is adjacent to the Mazari Sharif Madrasa on the east side. The entrance to the madrasa is in the southern wall, through an arched gallery with a large archway to the courtyard. Only the entrance portal is decorated with glazed green bricks. Rahimkulikhan had a son named Isa Tura, he was Khokim of Tashauz (town in the territory of Turkmenia) for some time and built a madrasa in his name near the mausoleum of Pahlavan Mahmud, which is called “Mazari Sharif” (“Tomb of the Noble”).

There is a legend about it. It is said that Isa Tura fell ill in the city of Istanbul during a pilgrimage to Mecca, then he was placed in a kajawa (a kind of stretcher for carrying the rulers and dignitaries of the court) and thus carried to the Hajj and brought back.

On his return to Khiva, he told the Khan what had happened. Muhammad Rahimhan Sani (Feruz), who was on the Khan’s throne at that time, told Isa Tura that “one should take hardships on the way on a pilgrimage”. Some time passed and Isa Tura, following the Khan’s advice, prepared himself well and went on pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca again. On his return from the Hajj, Isa Tura fell ill again, but already in the city of Mazari Sharif (city in the territory of northern Afghanistan). After his recovery in Khiva, the Khan’s son built a small madrasa, called Mazari Sharif, in honour of this city for his relatives.

Places of interest
Abdal-Bobo in Chiwa

Khiva - Minaret Abdal Bobo

Khiva - Minaret Abdal Bobo

The minaret Abdal-Bobo in Khiva is small (height – about 10 m, base diameter – 3, 2 m), but impressive, with sharply decreasing diameter upwards a plump trunk crowned with an elegant cornice – Sharafa.

On the road to Koy-Darwaza is an architectural complex Abdal-Bobo, built around a small suburban cemetery. Here, on the banks of the Khauz, by a large mosque in the neighbourhood, slave trade was carried out.

The 18th century Abdal-Bobo minaret, is located on Ataeva Street in Dishan-Kala of Khiva. It was built as part of the ensemble of the same name after the death of Pahlavan Ahmad Zamchi (his real name Abdal-Bobo).

Dishan-Kala is the name of the historic “outer” city of Khiva. The traditional division of the city into two separate parts: an inner city (Shahristan) – Ichan Kala (literally: inner circle of defence) and an outer city (Rabad) – Dishan Kala (outer circle of defence). Unlike Ichan-Kala, which has almost completely preserved its outer appearance, only a few gates of the outer defensive walls remain, notably the Kozh-Darwasa gate, 500 metres from the northern gate of Ichan-Kala (Bagcha-Darwasa), as well as the Khazarasp-Darwasa and Gandimyan-Darwasa gates. Allakuli-khan built the outer rampart in 1842 to protect against attacks by the Yomuds (one of the Turkmen tribes).

According to the poet and translator Agahi, Allakuli-khan built the Dishan-Kala walls in 3 years and forced all his subordinates to work for free for 12 days a year. More than 200 thousand people participated in the construction of the wall. The dimensions of the outer wall were as follows: Length – 5650 m, height – 6-8 metres, thickness at the base – 4-6 metres. It is interesting to know where so much clay was taken from to build the walls. Research revealed that the clay was extracted two kilometres north of the city, on the territory called Govuk-kul; now there is a large lake there. And even today, the local clay of excellent quality is used by modern potters. Legend has it that clay from this area was used when the Prophet Muhammad built Medina, and the lake that was later created is considered sacred.

Places of interest
Das Minarett der Dschuma-Moschee in Chiwa

Khiva - Minaret of the Juma Mosque

Khiva - Minaret of the Juma Mosque

The five minarets of Khiva stand on a line at a distance of about 200 m from each other. In the middle is the minaret the main mosque of Khiva – the Juma Mosque.

To the west is Kalta-Minor and further on is the minaret of the Sha-Qalandar-Bobo Complex. To the east is the minaret of the Sayid Biy Mosque, and then the minaret of Palvan-Qori. The diameter of the minaret of the Juma Mosque is 6.2 metres at the base and its height is 32, 5 metres.

The top of the minaret is crowned by an eight-arched lantern with a stalactite cornice and a dome. The minaret of the Juma Mosque was built in the XVIIIth century. The oldest and second largest minaret of the Juma Mosque is located near the former Jome Mosque in Khiva.

It was built in place of the destroyed structure by the great court official Abdurrahman Mihtar. Unlike other minarets of Khiva, minaret of Juma Mosque is almost not decorated.

The minarets of Khiva have a unique and very important place in the world of architecture. They create a clear system of spatial reference points in the perception of the city and mark the locations of the great mosques, madrasas, complexes. It is hardly possible to consider their direct purpose – to provide a raised platform for the proclamation of the azan, the call to prayer – as the reason for their multiplicity. It is also doubtful that the tile-adorned minarets in Khiva were primarily intended to fulfil the function of a watchtower. The minaret symbolised the power and dignity of its builder – it marked the location of the main building from which it was created, as a vertical line that could be seen from a distance.

The significance of a minaret as a memorial pillar, symbol of a fortress and power of authority is confirmed by the surviving legend from Khiva of how Muhammad Amin-khan had planned the tallest minaret in Central Asia “from which Bukhara was to be seen”, how the master builder was poached by the jealous ruler of Bukhara who did not want to leave Khiva in charge, and how, as a result, the Kalta Minor, a conical tower of unprecedented diameter in footprint was not completed.

Places of interest
Minaret Turt Shaffaz in Khiva

Khiva - Minaret Turt Shaffaz

Khiva - Minaret Turt Shaffaz

The Turt Shaffaz Minaret was built in 1855 at the entrance to the architectural complex of the same name in Khiva near the intersection of Allabergenov and Turt Shaffaz streets and is part of the development of the outer city of Dishan-Kala.

It is decorated with green “arches” and has four majolica belts. The arched openings are covered with panjara. The minaret was restored in 1996.

The dimensions of the Turt Shaffaz minaret in Khiva are 12 metres high and 2.5 metres in diameter at the base.

Khiva rightly bears the title of the city museum, as every visitor will surely find here interesting and historical monuments of the culture of the historical Muslim population, ancient architectural ensembles built here at different periods of the city’s formation.

According to ancient legend, the city of Khiva was built around a well dug by one of the descendants of the biblical Noah. According to legend, the water in this well was particularly pure and delicious. It still stands in the city and is one of the monuments of antiquity. Khiva was founded more than 2.5 centuries ago, after which it became one of the richest and most prosperous settlements of Khorezm. At the beginning of its development, the city was succeeded by various ruling dynasties, it was repeatedly conquered by warlike tribes, and at the beginning of the XIII century the troops of Genghis Khan destroyed almost the entire city.

In the middle of the XIII century, the city became the centre of the Khiva Khanate and the second period of development and prosperity, one of the most important and largest centres of Islam in the Orient. The city is rich in magnificent monuments, among which one can discover both secular and religious buildings.

Places of interest
Muhammad Amin Inaq Medrese in Chiwa

Khiva - Muhammad Amin Inaq Madrasa

Khiva - Muhammad Amin Inaq Madrasa

The Muhammad Amin Inaq Madrasa is located opposite the western corner of Tash Hauli in Ichan Qala of Khiva. It was built in 1785 by Muhammad Amin Inaq, who laid the foundation for the dynasty of the Kungrat Khans, whose son Kutli Murad (Bala Khan) was killed in a struggle for the throne and is buried here.

Viewed from above, the madrasa has the shape of a rectangle stretched in the transverse direction. The main principle of the structure has been preserved, namely the arrangement of the residential hudjras around a courtyard and a common hall at the entrance.

The portal divides the façade proportionally into two single-storey wings with unused niches and towers (guldasta) on the sides. According to legend, one of the rooms of the madrasa contains the tomb of Muhammad Amin Inaq himself or his younger son Kutlug Murad Bala khan.

In 1935, some historical buildings in Khiva fell into disrepair. According to the residents of Khiva at the time, who were working on the restoration of the structures, two graves were found in the Muhammad Amin Inaq madrasa.

The bodies in the tomb were well preserved, apart from the shrouds, they were also wrapped in animal skin. The tomb contains more than twenty hujjras and has a high portal at the front without ornamentation.

The complex has a staircase of square fired tiles on both sides of the entrance hall leading up to the roof of the madrasa. Opposite this madrasa in Khiva, the Fazilbiy madrasa was built in 1799, with its central façade facing the madrasa of Muhammad Amin Inaq, which together with it formed the traditional type of Kosh madrasa in the Orient.

Fazilbiy served during the reign of Muhammad Amin Inaq as Amir al-Umaro – commander-in-chief of the troops of the Khiva Khanate, and his annual salary was 500 tilla – gold coins.

The building of the madrasa was destroyed in 1945 – 1955. The Muhammad Amin Inaq Madrasah was restored in the late 1980s, its interior colourfully decorated with the Gansh patterns of Khiva, after the courtyard was redecorated into a wedding hall for the citizens of Khiva.

The interior of the building is magnificent and unique.

Places of interest
Medrese Matrasulboy Mizaboshi in Chiwa

Khiva - Muhammad Matrasulboy Mirzaboshi Madrasa

Khiva - Muhammad Matrasulboy Mirzaboshi Madrasa

The Muhammad Matrasulboy Mirzaboshi Madrasa (1905) is located opposite the western walls of the Sherghazi Khan Madrasa in Khiva. The madrasa was built by Muhammad Matrasulboy Mirzaboshi, the son of the poet and composer from Khiva Muhammad Niyaz Mirzaboshi (Komil Khorazmi).

Muhammad Rasul Mirzaboshi built his madrasa opposite the end of the Karikhan, located southwest of the Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum. It was built in the traditional madrasa form, without any ornamentation, with a low doorway facing north. Due to its small size and modest appearance, it is one of a number of structures that form part of the Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum complex.

The madrasa has a simple structure and a trapezoidal shape. The entrance vestibule consists of a single room. The entrance hall is through an opening in rectangular shape. In a room to the left of the entrance is a tomb (probably the burial place of Muhammad Rasul Mirzaboshi). There are a total of three cells of different sizes in the madrasa. In the southwest corner of the courtyard is a small mosque in the shape of a quadrangle. Meanwhile, a new aiwan has been built there.

Muhammad Rasul Mirzaboshi was born in 1839. He received his primary education from his father Komil Khorazmi and later graduated from the madrasa and the Russian school. Qazi Abdullah taught him foreign languages. He spoke perfect Persian and Arabic and was familiar with classical oriental poetry.

In 1906, with the help of his father, he founded a musical notation for percussion instruments, the first in Central Asia.

Khiva rightly bears the title of a city-museum, as any visitor is sure to find interesting and historical monuments of the culture of the historical Muslim population and ancient architectural ensembles built here in different periods of the city’s formation.

Places of interest
Minaret Murad-Tura in Khiva

Khiva - Murad Tura minaret

Khiva - Murad Tura minaret

The Murad-Tura minaret is located in the city of Khiva, the centre of the Khorezm region in Uzbekistan. The minaret was built in 1888, its height is 9 metres and the floor diameter is 3.2 metres.  The minaret and the mosque nearby were named in honour of Murad-Tura, the brother of Khan Muhammad Rahimkhan II.

Next to the Murad-Tura Minaret is the Muhammad Rahimkhan II Medrese and the Kunya Ark architectural complex. The Murad-Tura minaret is one of the miniature minarets of Khiva. The Murad-Tura minaret is built of baked bricks and the upper part is decorated with an ornamental band covered with majolica tiles.

The tiles shine in the sunlight and complete the image of the minaret. The Murad Tura Mosque has not been preserved to this day, and the minaret is nowadays located between the apartment blocks.

The minarets were originally built as lookout towers and landmarks for travellers. After the arrival of Islam in Central Asia, the minarets were used for the calls to prayer. Minarets then appeared on every town around the Jome mosques. The number of large and small minarets in Khiva was originally about a hundred, nowadays their number does not exceed 20.

Khiva rightly bears the title of a city museum, because every visitor will surely find here interesting and historical monuments of the culture of the historical Muslim population and ancient architectural ensembles built here in different periods of the city’s formation.

In the old town, also called the city centre (Ichan-Kala), the number of attractions is simply phenomenal – you can’t walk more than two steps without coming across a new one. They all have amazing histories and exquisite and luxurious exteriors. This is not to say that the outer city (Dishan-Kala) is uninteresting – there are also many places to visit. But while the outer city is not well preserved, the inner city presents itself almost in its original form.

Places of interest
Musa Tura Medrese in Chiwa

Khiva - Musa Tura Madrasa

Khiva - Musa Tura Madrasa

The Musa Tura Madrasa is located in the centre of Ichan Qala in Khiva, next to the Yusuf Yasaulboshi Madrasa. The Madrasa was built in 1841 with instructions from Musa Tura, the son of Rahmankuli Inak, the grandson of Muhammad Rahim Khan I and nephew of Allahkuli Khan.

The word Tura was added to the names of the descendants of the Khan dynasty. In 1855, Musa Tura was killed in battle with Turkmen Yomuds and buried in Khiva, in his Madrasa. The madrasa has a trapezoidal shape when seen from above. It has two courtyards, a two-domed vestibule, hujshras, mosque and darskhona.

The building has been restored and is now used as a handicraft shop.

According to ancient legend, the city of Khiva was built around a well dug by one of the descendants of the biblical Noah. According to legend, the water in this well was particularly pure and delicious. It still stands in the city and is one of the monuments of antiquity. Khiva was founded more than 2.5 centuries ago, after which it became one of the richest and most prosperous settlements of Khorezm. At the beginning of its development, the city was succeeded by various ruling dynasties, it was repeatedly conquered by warlike tribes, and at the beginning of the XIII century the troops of Genghis Khan destroyed almost the entire city.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the city became the centre of the Khiva Khanate and the second period of development and prosperity, one of the most important and largest centres of Islam in the Orient. The city is rich in magnificent monuments, among which one can discover both secular and religious buildings.

Places of interest

Khiva - Nurullabay Palace

Khiva - Nurullabay Palace

Nurullabay Palace, built between 1910 and 1918, is located on Mustaqillik (Independence Street) Street in Khiva and is in Dishan-Kala (outside the Kala).

The Khan of Khiva Muhammad Rahimkhan (Feruz), who visited St.-Petersburg several times and was accepted by the Russian Tsar, started the construction of the large palace in semi-European style for his son Isfandiyar Tura in 1906 on the territory of the garden that bore his name.

Nurullabay Palace consists of four parts; there are more than 100 rooms, galleries, rooms for guards, stables, rooms for servants and harem. The entire palace is surrounded by a brick wall with defensive walls and pillars.

Isfandiyar-khan, who was in power from 1910 to 1918 after the death of Muhammad Rahimkhan (Feruz), gave the order to build a hall for receptions behind Nurullabay Palace in Khiva, but the chief vizier was against this construction because the hospital, telegraph and other facilities were delayed for lack of money in the treasury at that time. Nevertheless, the Khan appointed Rahmanbergham Mahram to supervise the construction and it was completed very quickly in 1912. 70000 gold pieces were spent from the treasury for the construction work.

The reception hall of Isfandiyar Khan consists of seven rooms: a waiting room, a reception hall, a throne room, a banquet hall and three living rooms. The Russian Tsar Nicholas II donated two chandeliers and a small power station after the building was completed.

The architecture of the palace is characterised by a mixture of European and national styles, which can be explained by the fashionable trends in urban planning at the time. The building includes a reception hall, a courtroom, residential buildings and a madrasa.

The execution of the ceilings, frames and parquet flooring was done by German specialists, while the decorative ceramic tiles were specially ordered in St. Petersburg. Of particular interest are the famous Khiva carvings, covered with gilded and coloured paintings.

Seven fireplaces were built for heating. The parquet floorboards that covered the floor in the reception room were supplied from St. Petersburg. The Arzkhana was located in the south-eastern corner of the complex.

The additional, mostly double-sided rooms were connected to the inner corridors and separated from the street by walls with opening windows. The façades of Nurullabay Palace and the reception hall facing the courtyard are hidden behind a long corner aiwan with carved columns, typical of Khiva.

The dimensions of the structure are 186 m by 143 m, the reception hall 27 m by 32 m, the Arzkhana 82 m by 71 m, the palace 87 m by 65 m, the palace walls 7.5 m high.

Places of interest
Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum in Khiva

Khiva - Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum

Khiva - Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum

The Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum is the largest dome in Khiva. The structure in Ichan-Qala is covered with blue glazed tiles and has a sparkling gilded top. Pahlavon Mahmud (1247 – 1326) was born in Khiva.

From anywhere in Ichan-Qala you can see the only turquoise dome in Khiva, perched high on a drum – the Khanaka dome at the tomb of Pahlavon Mahmud – poet and thinker, philosopher and professional wrestler.

The mausoleum was built in honour of the famous poet of Khiva and a man known for his heroic strength, Pahlavon Mahmud.

There are legends about his strength and courage. Pahlavon Mahmud, like all philosophers of the time, had a profession that supported his family. He was a furrier and sewed fur coats.

The Muslim clergy elevated him to the rank of saint after his death. Initially, the mausoleum was modest and small, but it quickly became a place of pilgrimage with many hujras, khanakas and mosques.

In the 17th century, the entrance portal to the mausoleum was built on the south side. Members of the Khan of Khiva’s family were buried in the family tomb attached to the Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum. The marble tombstones of Abdulaziz-khan (1663) and Anush-khan (1681) were transferred to the new building and placed behind the burial niche of Muhammad Rahim-khan.

In 1719, Shergazi-khan built a new madrasa to the south of the cemetery and aligned it with the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mahmud.

In 1810, after a successful raid on Kungrad, Muhammad Rahim-khan I decided to radically change the ensemble. Later, the building was extended from the original mausoleum to the east and partly to the south.

In the works of Shamsiddin Samii “Komus up-apam” by Lutf Alibek Ozar “Otashkada”, as well as in the book “Manokib”, there is information that he created a masnaviy called “Konzul hakoyik” (“Treasure of Truth”). His rubai is widely known.

The priceless poetry of Pahlavon Mahmud, which has educated several generations, has reached us through the centuries. The books like “Hazrat Pahlavon Hikoyalari”, “Pahlavon Mahmud Manokiblari” have been written on the life of the clergyman.

In Khorezm, Pahlavon Mahmud was also known as Pahlavon Pir and in literary publications he is known as Hazrat Pahlavon and as Mahmud Pirivaliy. As a Tariqat servant, Pahlavon Mahmud earned his living as a furrier, just as Hazrat Bahauddin wove multi-coloured patterns on cloth. For the Tariqat servants lived from the fruits of their labour. They adhered to the holy scripture of Prophet Muhammad alayhissalom:

“Read the Qur’an and follow it.
Do not be alienated from it and strive to understand it more deeply.
Do not make mistakes by indulging in your own speculations,
Do not enrich yourself by making it a means of existence.

As the legend testifies, Pahlavon Mahmud lived in Iran and India for several years. According to “Manokib”, Pahlavon Mahmud fought against the enemies of India and saved the Indian king Raja Rapoy from death during the battle.

When the king wanted to thank him and asked what he wanted, Pahlavon Mahmud expressed his only request, which was to free the captured countrymen who had been taken captive a few years earlier.

The king was very surprised by Pahlavon Mahmud’s generosity, for he was willing to give him half of his kingdom and his daughter in marriage. The king let the captives go and gave them food and horses for the journey. Pahlavon Mahmud and his countrymen returned to Khoresm.

He built a mausoleum with his own money to commemorate his compatriots who had died in the battles against the Mongol Tatars and made it a place of pilgrimage. When Pahlavon Mahmud died, a mausoleum was built over his grave in Khiva.

The majolica panelling that adorns the dome, the entrance portal and the tombstone was the main feature of the structure. The majolica facings were created by the masters who were imbued with the spirit of Pahlavon Mahmud’s poetry, as if trying to match their amazing blue and white patterns with the poems of the cleric.

The grave of Pahlavon Mahmud was elevated to the rank of a saint by the clergy and since the poet belonged to the Kungrad family. In the 19th century, the Khans of Khiva elected him a saint of the Kungrad dynasty.

Since then, the complex around the mausoleum has become a memorial to members of the Khan’s family – Khans Abdulaziz, Shahniyaz, Muhammad Rahim Khan I, Temurgozi and other rulers of the 17 – 18 centuries are buried here.

During the reign of Allakuli-Khan, the building was decorated with majolica panelling. In 1810, the master Adina Muhammad Murad from Khozarasp supervised the construction.

The majolica panelling dates back to 1825 when the other side of the gallery was built by Nur Muhammad son of Usto Kalandar Khivaki and Sufi Muhammad son of Abdal Jabbar.

The author of the drawings was Abdullah Jin and Nadir Muhammad made the carved wooden door in 1893 – 1894. In 1913, a two-storey building was constructed in the courtyard in front of the mausoleum.

In the rooms of this building are the tombs of Isfandiyar-khan’s mother and sons, as well as a tomb for Isfandiyar himself. According to the accepted version, Isfandiyar died outside Ichan-Kala, in the palace of Nurullabai, and was not buried in the place prepared for him.

His son Temur Gazi, who was poisoned, was also not buried here, but in the Said Mahir Jahan Mausoleum next to his grandfather. The construction of the magnificent architectural complex was completed with the erection of aiwans with carved columns in the south-eastern part of the courtyard.

Places of interest

Khiva - Palvan Kori Minaret

Khiva - Palvan Kori Minaret

The Palvan Kori Minaret is located in the city of Khiva, the centre of the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan. It is located in the eastern part of the historic district of Dishan-Kala (Outer City), near the Sayid Biy complex, which includes a madrasa, a mosque and a minaret.

The structure was completed in the early 20th century, in 1905. The Palvan Kori Minaret is interesting mainly because it is strikingly different from the traditional type of minarets of Khiva, which are much narrower towards the top.

The Palvan-Kori Minaret is a rare type of absolutely direct cylindrical minaret of Khiva. It is difficult to say what caused this architecture. Maybe the new trends, because it was built in the late XIX, early XX century.

It is remarkable that the decoration of the minaret is also unusual. Such modesty in decoration is not characteristic of oriental architecture. All the decoration is the bands of brickwork decorated with green glazed tiles in the form of “arches”.

Characteristic of the majority of Khiva minarets is the considerable narrowing in the upper part of the structure. The uniqueness of Palvan-Kori Minaret is that it is an absolutely straight cylinder for its entire height.

Today it is difficult to confirm what influenced the choice of such an architectural solution. It is probably related to the architect’s desire to bring a novelty to traditional architecture.

The exterior features of a minaret are also unusual. Unlike most minarets in Uzbekistan, which are decorated with majolica tiles, the Palvan-Kori minaret has only figurative brickwork in several places.

The Palvan-Kori minaret is located next to the medrese of the same name. It was built by an architect with a fine sense of proportion and exquisite artistic taste.

The Palvan-Kori minaret is one of the oldest in Khiva. The upper part of the minaret has four large arched openings. Dimensions: Height – 24 m, diameter of the base – 4 m.

Places of interest
Polvon Darvoza in Chiwa

Khiva - Polvon Darvoza gate

Khiva - Polvon Darvoza gate

The eastern gate of downtown Ichan Kala in Khiva is called Polvon-Darvoza (named after the famous wrestler and poet, Polvon or Pahlovon Mahmud) or Slave Gate (there used to be a large slave market to its right).

The people of Khiva also called Polvon-Darvoza the Gate of Execution (the khan’s decrees and executions on runaway slaves and rebels were carried out near the gate). Just behind the façade of the monumental gate is a gallery covered with six domes.

The eastern gate of Ichan-Kala differs significantly from other gates of Khiva in the size of its architectural form. It is no coincidence that people called this gate “Polvon-Darvoza”. The eastern gate of Ichan-Kala was also used to house the trading stalls. The gate looks like a “dash kutcha” (stone corridor) extending from west to east, the facades are decorated in the form of arched portals, the driveway is blocked by a chain of six domes and there are shops in the side arches, two each.

Above the gateway, a marble slab with a historical inscription has been preserved, indicating the year of construction in words and the city of Khiva (Shahri Kheyvak – 1221 (1806 AD)). This is undoubtedly the year of construction of the original gate, which is on the line of the fortress wall.

After the completion of the monumental Allakulikhan Madrasah in 1835, a six-domed roofed gallery – the Market Passage – was added to the south of it, bringing forward the beginning of the Polvon-Darvoza Gate.

At the entrance, from Ichan Kala, there is an inscription “Shahri Khiva” (City of Khiva), the letters arranged to read the date of construction – 1221, i.e. 1806 A.D. This is the oldest part of the building associated with the Anush Khan bath.

The construction of the gate was completed by Allakuli-Khan in 1835. On the right side of the gate at the exit of Ichan-Kala, there was a slave bazaar until 1873 and in the niches of the gate, runaway slaves and rebels awaited their punishment.

The present gate dates from the late 1830s of the 19th century. In the Polvon-Darvoza zone under Allakulikhan, the most important urban transformations were carried out: the Madrasah with 99 hujshras, the caravanserai and the Tim were built, and the construction of the Tashkhauli Palace with its intricate layout and multi-door composition was completed.

It was also here that the khan’s decrees were promulgated and the punishment of criminals was carried out. Hence the popular names of these gates: Pashshab-Darvoza (the gate of execution), Qul-Darvoza (the gate of slaves).

The planned size is 51.76 m x 17.5 m; large domes are 5.2 m in diameter; two small domes are 4.5 m; benches are 2.8 m x 4.4 m. With the transfer of the khan’s residence to Tash-Khauli, the square turned into a public centre of Khiva, the khan’s decrees were displayed at the city gates and executions were carried out next to it.

Places of interest

Khiva - Polvon Qori Madrasah

Khiva - Polvon Qori Madrasah

The Polvon Qori Madrasah was built in Khiva in 1905 of the twentieth century. It is located at the intersection of Polvon Qori and Karieva streets. It was built by a rich merchant from Khiva, Polvon Qori, one of the confidants of Muhammad Rahim-khan II.

He played a significant role in establishing trade relations with Russia, Bukhara and Turkey. Polvon Qori decided to build this complex with the profits from trade. The madrasa consists of 17 hujrasas, summer and winter mosques and a high minaret.

The decorative elements are concentrated only on the main façade. The upper part of the portal is patterned with green tiles, while the corner towers have small green domes.

The Polvon Qori Minaret is located in the eastern part of Dishan-Kala in Khiva, next to the Seyid Biya complex, which includes a mosque, a minaret and a two-storey madrasah. The structure is interesting mainly because it is strikingly different from the traditional type of minarets of Khiva and is much narrower at the top.

According to ancient legend, the city of Khiva was built around a well dug by one of the descendants of the biblical Noah. According to legend, the water in this well was particularly pure and delicious. It still stands in the city and is one of the monuments of antiquity. Khiva was founded more than 2.5 centuries ago, after which it became one of the richest and most prosperous settlements of Khorezm. At the beginning of its development, the city was succeeded by various ruling dynasties, it was repeatedly conquered by warlike tribes, and at the beginning of the XIII century, the troops of Genghis Khan destroyed almost the entire city.

Places of interest
Qozi Kalon Medrese in Chiwa

Khiva - Qozi Kalon Madrasa

Khiva - Qozi Kalon Madrasa

The Qozi Kalon Madrasa, built in 1905, is located in front of the northwest corner of the Juma Mosque in Khiva. The madrasa was built by Chief Justice Salim Akhun-khan. Although this madrasa is not as large and beautiful as others, various sciences were taught here.

Besides the religious disciplines, the basics of law and taxation were also taught here. The madrasa has a low portal at the front, with the central façade facing north.

The portal has a three-winged entrance and the doors are decorated with carved patterns. On the right and left sides of the tripartite vestibule are the domed rooms of the winter mosque and the lecture halls of the madrasa.

There are 15 hujras covered by the Balkhi vault. The madrasa was co-constructed by Khudaibergen Hajji, Kalandar Kochum, Bagbek Abdurakhmanov, Matchan Kulimov, Vais kulyal and others.

According to Abdulla Baltayev, a national master of ornamentation, 35 students studied at the madrasa. The son of Qozi-Kalon Salim akhun Babaakhun Salimov became the first minister of justice (nazir) of the KhNSR.

Nowadays, the museum of musical arts of Khorezm is located on the premises of Qozi Kalon Madrasa in Khiva. The area of the exposition is 125 square metres. A total of 352 items are displayed in the exposition, reflecting the history of the development of music in Khorezm from the earliest times to the present day.

There is an opportunity to listen to the melodies of the ancient Khorezm maqoms here. The overall dimensions of the madrasa are 32.5 m x 23.4 m.

Places of interest
Residence of Islam Khodja in Khiva

Khiva - Residence of Islam Khodja

Khiva - Residence of Islam Khodja

The residence of Islam Khodja, the spiritual advisor of Isfandiyar Khan, consists of the smallest madrasa in Khiva (42 hujjras – rooms for students) and the highest minaret (57 metres).

Together, the structures form an unusual but harmonious architectural ensemble. The most famous masters of the era participated in its construction. The minaret of Islam Khodja* is called the symbol of Ichan-Qala.

At a height of 45 metres, there is a viewing terrace from which the whole city can be seen. The finishing of the minaret with the glazed tiles lends a certain lightness and elegance to the imposing structure.

For architecture lovers, the domed hall and the majolica workmanship of the entrance and walls of the madrasa are of interest. Those who are not indifferent to history will be interested in the tragic fate of Islam Khodja*, whose progressive ideas did not find favour with his contemporaries, leading to his death.

*Said Islam Khodja distinguished himself as a dignitary during the reign of Khan Said Muhammad Rahim II, who ruled from 1863 to 1910. Under his successor Khan Isfandiyar (reigned 1910 to 1920), he rose to the position of vizier or first minister. He received a mandate from the ruler to implement far-reaching reforms in the khanate. For example, he sought to reform the school system. Other measures included the construction of a post and telegraph station and a cotton factory.

Due to concerns about the progressive action, other dignitaries of the khanate submitted a written protest against the innovations in 1911. In response to this, the vizier accused his opponents of conspiracy and obtained their arrest. In the summer of 1913, he was killed by a contract killer.

Between 1908 and 1910, Said Islam Khodja had his residence – the Islam Khodja Madrasa – built in the east of the old city of Khiva. He also had the Islam Khodja minaret, the tallest in the city, built.

One of Said Islam Khodja’s daughters was the wife of Khan Isfandiyar (source: Wikipedia).

Places of interest
Mausoleum Sayid Alauddin in Khiva

Khiva - Sayid Alauddin Mausoleum

Khiva - Sayid Alauddin Mausoleum

The Sayid Alauddin Mausoleum is one of the early monuments of the city of Khiva that has reached us in a rather distorted and reconstructed form and belongs to the Ichan-Qala development. The very fact that the mausoleum was half buried in the cultural layers indicates the antiquity of the monument.

However, the original form of the mausoleum and the time of its construction remain uncertain. An inscription on one of the tombstones suggests that Sayid Alauddin died in the Hijra year 702 (1303 AD). The mausoleum over the Sheikh’s tomb could only be built in the second half of the XIVth century, as popular belief associates its construction with the name of Amir Kulol, who died in 1380.

Later, a square room (Ziyaratkhona) was added to the mausoleum from the west and the entrance to the complex was built from the north side. All these radical changes were commissioned by Allakulikhan (1825 – 1842).

In connection with the burial of Khan Sayid Muhammad-Khan (1819 – 1863), who was worshipped by the Sheikh, dakhma (raised plinth) and two saganas (tombs) on it were apparently constructed together for two tombs.

The facing of the dakhma and saganas is in the best traditions of majolica in Choresm in the ХIV. Century. The majolica pattern is close to the motifs from the mausoleum of Nadschmiddin Kubro (1930s of the ХIV century), which misled researchers.

In fact, the majolica decoration of the dakhma and sagana of the Sayid Alauddin mausoleum was made in the 1960s. The architecture of the mausoleum is quite ordinary; the walls, domes, stepped trumpets are all brick and have no cladding.

During the archaeological excavation, the remains of carved ceramics from the original building were found. Thus, the present appearance of the Sayid Alauddin Mausoleum can be attributed to the period of the new revival of architecture in Khiva (Khorezm), i.e. the first half of the nineteenth century.

The monument was restored in 1825. The building has grown into the thickness of the archaeological layers. In the beginning it was a portal-domed Gurkhan where a peculiar sub-domed octagonal structure with the cantilever stalactite filling the corners.

After a while, a larger portal-dome Ziyaratkhana was added. In Gurkhana is tombstones (XIV century.), Coated majolica, with polychromy and relief stand out dense floral and vegetal ornamentation and the binding of Arabic inscriptions.

The Sayid Alauddin Mausoleum in Khiva consists of two interconnected domed rooms, one serving as Sayid Alauddin’s mausoleum and the other as a khanaka. A low portal, bearing the clear traces of a later reconstruction, leads to a large square khanaka, which was later converted into a mosque.

The Khanaka has a high domed ceiling. The surface of the west wall is covered with Persian verses; the most interesting passages from them for us read as follows: “For some time he dwelt in Kaba (in Mecca) and finally came here. His name is Sheikh Alauddin – a unique pearl from the sea of science. This gumbaz was built in the past and rivals the domes of heaven. It was built by Emir Kulol”.

It is further stated that the Gumbaz was renovated during the reign of Allakuli-Khan (1825-1842). Here the phrase serves as a date and indicates the year 1241. (1825), i.e. the year of the repair works. At that time the collapsed portal was restored, the dome ceilings were repaired and the alabaster tombstone described below was restored.

In the center of the eastern wall of the khanaka there is a wide but low pointed arch that leads to a small, simple room with a tombstone (sagana) of Sayyid Alauddin. The tomb is in the form of a parallelepiped of fired bricks and is lined with glazed tiles with low underglaze relief.

Its corners are decorated with half-columns on which a small cornice rests, and the wall surfaces are broken up into ornamental fields by rectangular smooth frames. The tomb is 1.25 m high, 1.20 m wide and 2 m long.

Above, two identical miniature tile replicas of tombstones in the form of a lancet vault of common modern tombstones of Muslim cemeteries in Central Asia stand parallel to each other.

The tiled walls of both “tombstones” are lined with cast tiles with relief inscriptions of Arabic verses in a complex Khati-Sulus script, containing the name and time of the Sheikh’s death. The relief of the ornamentation of the entire tomb consists of intertwined branches, foliage and floral halftones, executed in greenish-white tones that are in surprisingly gentle harmony with the blue color scheme of the background.

According to the inscription on the tombstone, Sayid Allaudin died in 702, i.e. 1303 A.D. He is mentioned in particular by Imam Yafi and Ahmad Razi, a biographer of the second half of the XIVth century, in his enumeration of the Khoresm sheikhs.

The Emir-Kulol, a famous mystic of the Naqshbandi order and teacher of Bakhauddin, to whom the 19th century Khanaka inscription attributes the construction of this gumbaz, died in 1380 A.D. He was wealthy and had authority among the ruling elite of the time.

It was the time of the triumph of the reactionary Sheikh orders, which found strong financial and administrative support among the Mongolian nobility and enslaved and rapaciously exploited the population in the cities and villages of Central Asia.

This nobility needed the help of the local clergy to justify their rule ideologically. The Mongols and their proxies from the local nobility built many khanakas and mausoleums for the dead and revered living sheikhs, accompanied by large donations of land, aryks (water canals) and villages, the proceeds of which were used to support all kinds of darvishes and sheikhs.

For example, the oldest Waqf document from Khoresm, now kept in the library of Khiva Museum, informs that Timur Kutluk, viceroy of the Khan of the Golden Horde, built for Sheikh Sulayman Haddadi two large Khanaka, one of which was located at the foot of Mizdahkan Hill and another somewhere near the city of Khiva.

He donated two plots of land for the upkeep of these khanakas, whose income was equivalent to 55,000 poods of wheat per year. It is possible that the Sayid Alauddin mausoleum was actually built at the expense of the wealthy Sheikh Emir Kulol, but there is no indication in his rather detailed biography that he visited Khiva or was involved in the construction work there.

In any case, the construction period of the mausoleum given in Allakuli-khan’s inscription finds direct confirmation in the style and technique of Sayid Alauddin’s tombstone. The latter is in this respect closely related to the tombstone of Nadschmeddin Kubro in Kunya-Urgench.

A close parallel is found in the glass facade of Turkan-Aka, the mausoleum of Temur’s sister in Samarkand, which is covered with tiles in relief. There is no reason to doubt that these glazes, among the best in quality and artistic execution, appeared in Khorezm during the Golden Horde period, were known in other areas of Central Asia during Timur’s time, and disappeared from use in the early 15th century.

The tomb of Najmeddin Kubro dates back to the forties of the XIV century, and the mausoleum of Turkan Aka – to the second half of the XIV century. Obviously, the manufacture of the tombstone of Sayid Alauddin and, as will be seen, the construction of the mausoleum Sayid Alauddin itself can also be attributed to this date.

The main structural details such as drums, domes and the shape of the arches suggest that the building was constructed at the same time as the tombstone. The ground plan of the building is interesting, as a multi-dome building of the type that we conventionally group under the term “Gumbaz”.

The gumbaz of Sheikh Mukhtar 30 (d. 1288 A.D.) in the village of Astana, in the Yangi-Aryk district, in the Khorezm region, whose construction is also attributed to the Emir Kulol, also belongs to this type of building. It consists of a mosque, a khonako and a mausoleum and differs from Sayid Alauddin’s Gumbaz only in its larger scale.

The same layout and architectural composition gives a famous gumbaz Sheikh Sayfiddin-Bokharazi (mosque, khanaka, mausoleum) near the mountains of Bukhara. It was built by order of the Mongolian royal wife Tuli-khan.

Other monuments in Khorezm date back to it: the mausoleum of Sheikh-Abbas (mosque, mausoleum and khanaka) in the city of Shabaza and the mausoleum of Narindjan-Bobo (mosque, mausoleum and khanaka) in the district of Turtkul, Karakalpakstan, which were built in the 14th century AD.

These observations indicate that cult buildings of this complex type were not widespread until the XIV century.

Places of interest

Khiva - Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay Complex

Khiva - Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay Complex

The Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay complex was built in 1842 , a rich merchant from Khiva. The granddaughter of Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay Pashsha ana (grandmother) who narrates about her grandfather from the words of her father Hudaibergen ata (grandfather) recalls the following: “Our grandfather Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay was called the whitewasher of shawls (dapmachi)”.

His father was a rich merchant, after his death all the wealth was inherited by Sayid Niyaz.

He continued to expand his production. One day, Sayid Niyaz and his friend, the merchant from Bukhara, Eshmatbay, loaded various goods onto camels and set out for Iran with a caravan.

They were lucky enough to sell all the goods they carried in a short time and stayed in Iran for several months after making friends with traders there. They spent all the money (except the initial capital) they had gained from trading with their friends, they ate and drank, partied and consumed it almost completely.

But due to the fact that Sayid Niyaz bai was an open-hearted and generous person, he could not leave the company of his friends. When it was time to return to his homeland, his friend Eshmatbay said: – “What shall we do now, what shall we do now?” – Sayid Niyaz replied, “We will now go to the market and use the money (sarmoya) left with us as much as possible, buy goods, load them on camels and go home.”

When the friends went to the bazaar, they did not have enough money to buy good goods. For this reason, after strolling through the market, they found themselves near a young fellow sitting in a corner, huddled like an old man, with an overgrown beard and moustache, in ragged clothes, selling white gum or Bukhari gum.

They said that they could not buy anything but white gum with the money they had left, besides, the days of the Muslim festival (i’d-hayit) were coming up and the trade would probably be good, so they bought all the white gum (ak sakich) from the man.

Overjoyed, they gave the young man the rest of the money, loaded the load onto camels and Eshmatbay went to Bukhara and Sayid Niyaz to Khiva. When Sayid Niyaz arrived in Khiva, he crushed a piece of chewing gum and could not believe his eyes – gold coins (tillya), pearls and precious stones fell out of the pieces of gum.

Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay took the precaution of hiding half of the wealth in a place he knew and told his wife that these treasures would be enough for their seven generations if he did not return. He tied the rest of the treasure in his belt and went to the Khan.

After receiving permission to receive, he came to the Khan and said, “If there is a supreme command, then grant me permission to build a mosque with the money I have acquired in an honest way. Then Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay laid the wealth he had brought before the Khan and told him the story that had happened.

The Khan was absorbed in long pondering and then said: – “To build the mosque, I give you permission, but you must also send the master his share. “So, to the east of the gate of Palvan-Darwaza Ichan-kala (in the territory of Dishan-kala), the construction of a mosque was started.

There is a rumour that only one master worked in the construction of the mosque and the rest of the work was done by children. Each of the children who brought a brick received a walnut.

In order to collect walnuts, the children ran to collect bricks and therefore the construction of the mosque proceeded at a fast pace. After the construction was completed, the believers started praying in the mosque.

On the days of the Muslim holiday khayit, Khan and his entourage would go to khayit namaz (prayers in honour of the holiday) at the Namazgah mosque, located outside the gates of Gandimyan-darwaza in Dishan-Kala. Seeing Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay standing in the welcoming arch in front of the mosque, the Khan greeted him with the words “madrasa muborak” (“may the madrasa be blessed”) and passed by with his entourage.

Sayid Niyaz was surprised and said to himself, “Why did the Khan say that! Then, thinking that the word spoken by the Khan should not go unheeded, he started building a madrasa on the east side of a mosque.

The construction of the mosque occurred during the reign of Khan Allakuli of Khiva. The mosque construction required the following: The mosque should be roofed and have space for many people, and the inner part of the courtyard should have cool places for the Muslims to rest (during the hot months). Exactly these conditions are now present in the mosque of Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay complex in Khiva.

The Sayid Niyaz Shalikarbay complex in Khiva consists of a mosque (winter and summer), a two-storey madrasah, a minaret and two courtyards. The winter mosque is a monumental structure with nine domes resting on four massive pillars. The mosque has three doors on three sides, the main entrance from the door in the aiwan wall on the north side.

The aiwan of the summer mosque has three wooden columns showing the best traditions of wood carving in Khiva. On the columns of the aiwan in the patterned coils is written in Arabic script the date in the Hijrah year 1212 (1797). On the walls of the aiwan of the summer mosque are patterned panels with gunch carvings.

There are patterned panels on the walls of the Aiwan of the Summer Mosque. The madrasah is attached to the north-eastern side of the mosque. It has two floors, five hujras on the ground floor and six on the ground floor. Currently, the mosque functions as the Jame Mosque of Khiva and the district.

Places of interest

Khiva - Sayyid Muhammad-Khan Madrasah

Khiva - Sayyid Muhammad-Khan Madrasah

In one of the picturesque places of Ichan Kala in Khiva is the Sayyid Muhammad-Khan Madrasah. The building was constructed in 1876 after the death of Khan Sayyid Muhammad of Khiva by his son Sayyid Muhammad Rahim-khan II under the leadership of Muhammad Murat – the Khan’s army chief.

The madrasa consists of two courtyards: an inner courtyard and an outer courtyard. The outer courtyard is surrounded by one-storey cells and has a rectangular shape. At the entrance is a two-storey façade clad in white and blue tiles, flanked by unusual green towers. The madrasa also houses a winter and summer mosque, a library, a darskhona (study room) and various ancillary rooms. Sayyid Muhammad-Khan was the tenth ruler of the Kungrat dynasty of the Khiva Khanate, ruling from 1856 to 1864. During Sayyid Muhammad-Khan’s reign, a lookout (kurnishkhona) was built in Khiva and trade, arts, crafts and science were well developed.

During his reign, the eminent historian Agakhi lived in Khiva and wrote the history of Khorezm. The Sayyid Muhammad-Khan Madrasah is an architectural creation and one of the most magnificent madrasahs of Khiva.

Said Muhammad-khan (1823-1864), reigned 1856-1864, was the tenth ruler of the Uzbek dynasty Kungrat in the Khanate of Khiva.

In 1855, Muhammad Amin-khan, the ruler of Khiva, was tragically killed in the battle of Serakhs. After his death, power in Khorezm passed to Abdulla-khan (1855), but he also died six months later in battle with the nomadic tribes. Then Kutlug Murad-khan ascended the throne. He was assassinated in an assassination attempt.

After his death in 1856, Muhammad Rahim-khan’s son Sayyid Muhammad-khan (1856-1864) came to power in the Khiva Khanate. He brought order to the state and prevented attacks by nomadic tribes.

During Sayyid Muhammad-khan’s rule, he maintained diplomatic relations with Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Iran and Afghanistan. In 1858, the Russian envoy N.P. Ignatiev visited Khiva.

In 1863, Sayyid Muhammad-khan received the famous traveller Hermann Wamberi.

In 1864, his son Muhammad Rahim-khan II (1864-1910) came to power.

Places of interest

Khiva - Sha Kalandar Bobo Complex

Khiva - Sha Kalandar Bobo Complex

The Sha-Kalandar Bobo complex consists of a single-storey madrasa and a minaret. The complex was built in the late 19th century at the burial site of Sheikh Sha-Kalandar Bobo in Khiva.

According to legend, Sha-Kalandar Bobo or Sheikh Kalandar Bobo was a Sufi sheikh and came to Khiva in search of the faith along with his two brothers, Dervishes.

Here they stayed, apparently not wanting to part with their beloved city.

The city and its people, whom he taught Sufism, thanked him by building this beautiful complex, the Mausoleum of Sha-Kalandar-Bobo, in his honour here in Khiva. The Sha-Kalandar-Bobo Mausoleum stands in the centre of the cemetery of the same name and is located southwest of the Bikanjan Bika Medrese.

The complex was restored in 1997, has a single-domed portal and a tomb. There was a three-chambered mausoleum from the 16th century with two burial chambers, of which a domed structure with a portal survives.

At the edge of the courtyard of the madrasa are a row of residential hujras, domed halls of the mosque and classrooms. The portal of the main façade of the madrasa has a minaret that is 18 metres high and 6 metres in diameter at the base.

According to ancient legend, the city of Khiva was built around a well dug by one of the descendants of the biblical Noah. According to legend, the water in this well was particularly pure and delicious. It still stands in the city and is one of the monuments of antiquity. Khiva was founded more than 2.5 centuries ago, after which it became one of the richest and most prosperous settlements of Khorezm. At the beginning of its emergence, the city was succeeded by various ruling dynasties, it was repeatedly conquered by warlike tribes, and at the beginning of the XIII century, the troops of Genghis Khan destroyed almost the entire city.

Places of interest
Scheich Mavlon Bobo Komplex in Chiwa

Khiva - Sheikh Mavlon Bobo Complex

Khiva - Sheikh Mavlon Bobo Complex

Sheikh Mavlon Bobo complex was built in the XIX century in the village of Qiyot near Khiva and consists of a complex of mosques, cemetery and minarets. The cemetery here is the tomb of Shermuhammad Munis and Muhammad Rizo Erniyozbek Öghli Ogahiy. The mausoleum was renovated between 1989 and 1999. The Sheikh Mavlon Bobo complex in Khiva was restored in 1999 on the eve of the 190th anniversary of the Battle of Akhavi.

Shermuhammad Munis Khorazmiy (1778-1829) was a talented poet, painter, calligrapher, translator, historian, scholar, poet and teacher, politician. He had a wonderful “Mirob” from her life “Munisul-ushaq”, “A Friend of the Lover”, as well as “The Education of Sawodi” as a teacher and “Firdavs-ul-ikbol” as a translator.

Muhammad Rizo Erniyozbek Öghli Ogahiy (1879-1874) was one of the great exponents of 19th century literature. He was the nephew of Munis and was educated by Munis. He was a mature scholar and poet, translator and historian of the Khanate after Munis. He established a school to translate more than 20 cultures, which are considered rare masterpieces of world literature and culture. This was written in Riyad-ud-dawla (1825-1842) in 1844. “Zubdat ut-tavorikh” (1843-1846) was published in 1846, the work “Sultan Jaml” (1846-1855), written in 1856 “Davlat Gulshani” (1856-1865), a work written in 1865, (1865-1873) was written on the pages of Kokand paper in red ink on a red leather cover, the artist’s name and year, 227 pages , 14-25 cm. The piece depicted the history of Khorezm in its entirety in wars and was dedicated to the Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanate of Kokand with Russia.

With his works on the history of anarchy, he develops and promotes the traditions of Munis in this field. “Firdavs-ul-iqbol” by Munis and Ogahiy has five works on the history of Khorezm, not only the study of the history of the Uzbek people, but also the brotherly Tajiks, Kazakhs, Turkmen, Karakalpaks, Russians, and the history, culture, art, traditions, psychology of the Afghan people, the origin of these peoples, source of livelihood, etc. It is characteristic that these works have been written by the famous poet, progressive Munis and Ogahiys as they are based on the history, life, daily work, construction of mosques, madrasahs, various events, popular uprisings, life and work of great people, scholars, poets and other information described accurately and precisely.

There are 14 works by the author, of which 22 are kept in 11 copies in the College of Oriental Studies named after Beruni.

Places of interest
Sheikh Mukhtar Ota Mosque in Khiva

Khiva - Sheikh Mukhtar Ota Mosque

Khiva - Sheikh Mukhtar Ota Mosque

In the old town, also called the city centre, the number of attractions is simply phenomenal – here you can’t walk two steps without coming across a new one. They all have both an amazing history and an exquisite and luxurious exterior. This is not to say that the outer city is uninteresting – there are also many places to visit. But while the outer city is not particularly well preserved, the inner city presents itself almost in its original form. Sheikh Mukhtar Ota is a neighbourhood mosque located next to the northern part of the Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum in Khiva, built between 1810 and 1838. The mosque consists of winter premises, taharat khana (where people wash) and high summer single-column aiwan. Sheikh Mukhtar Ota Mosque in Khiva was restored in 1997.

Places of interest

Khiva - Sheikh Qalandar Bobo Mausoleum

Khiva - Sheikh Qalandar Bobo Mausoleum

The mausoleum of Sheikh Qalandar Bobo was built in the 16th century, is located southwest of the Bikanjan Bika Madrasah and was built in the centre of the cemetery of the same name, which belongs to the Dishan Qala settlement in Khiva.

According to legend, Sheikh Qalandar Bobo was a Sufi sheikh who came to Khiva with his two Darvish brothers. The mausoleum has a single-domed portal and a tomb; it was restored in 1997.

Khiva is the city of legends, mysterious stories and myths. Many great names and semi-mythical personalities lived, studied and created in this land. They have remained in people’s memory through their deeds and actions and became an inseparable part of the region’s history.

Sheikh Qalandar Bobo was one of these famous personalities of Khorezm. According to legend, he was a Sufi sheikh who travelled a lot and visited many countries. In the end, he settled in Khiva, where he taught the principles of Sufism and strengthened the faith in Islam. Sheikh Qalandar Bobo was known for his modesty, ascetic lifestyle and together with his two brothers helped the needy. After his death, the Sheikh was buried in the cemetery near the Bikanjan Bika Madrasah, and at the end of the 19th century, a memorial complex was built here: a madrasah with a minaret. The buildings are not distinguished by any particular style, design or decoration, as in principle befits the burial place of a representative of Sufism.

The mausoleum in Khiva, where Sheikh Qalandar Bobo is buried, dates from the 16th century. At one time, the mausoleum was quite large and contained several tombs. According to medieval tradition, a madrasah and a minaret were built nearby in the 19th century. Of the mausoleum itself, however, the domed structure with a portal, the later madrasah and the minaret remain. The minaret is eighteen metres high and six metres in diameter at the base. The madrasah itself is small and in the courtyard there are cells where students and teachers lived. When visiting the classrooms, one can understand how lessons were conducted and what was used for them. After the last reconstruction in 1997, the complex is open to receive visitors.

Places of interest

Khiva - Shergazi Khan Madrasa

Khiva - Shergazi Khan Madrasa

The Shergazi-Khan Madrasa is located in the centre of the historic city of Ichan Kala in Khiva, in front of the entrance to the Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum. The Shergazi-Khan Madrasa is one of the oldest and the largest in Khiva. Its entrance is 2 metres below the floor of the street due to natural subsidence and the increase in burial sites.

The madrasa building is single-storey except for a two-storey entrance section and includes a courtyard with four aiwans, a complex of vestibules and an auditorium.

The Shergazi-Khan Madrasa (1719-1726) is the oldest and best known of the remaining educational institutions in Khiva. People who later became famous poets and scientists were educated here.

Therefore, the madrasa was popularly known as “Maskan-i fazilan”, i.e. “abode of the educated”. The talented Uzbek poet Pahlavankuli Ravnak (born 1725) was educated there.

The classic of Turkmen poetry, Makhtumkuli (1733-1793), lived and studied here. The words of sincere gratitude are heard in the poet’s poem dedicated to the graduation of the Shergazi-Khan Madrasa in Khiva:

“Three years you shared salt with me daily,
I’m sorry, I’m leaving, the beautiful Shergazi!
You were my shelter in winter and spring, –
Forgive me, fair Shergazi!
I shall live to know friend from foe,
Truth is now a sacred ally to me;
A golden book has been opened for me here.
Forgive me, I go away, beautiful Shergazi!”

The story of the construction of the madrasa lives in the memory of the people. The Shergazi-Khan Madrasa was built in honour of the conquest of the historical state of Khorasan by the Khan of Khiva, Shergazi.

Shergazi Khan returned from this campaign with a solid trophy, including 5000 prisoners of war. The Khan promised them, in exchange for their freedom, to build a beautiful architectural structure.

Having believed Khan’s words, the prisoners began building the madrasa within three and a half years and finished it in 1726, having put all their skill into it.

However, the conditions were deliberately delayed. The wrath of the slaves was merciless: During one of the visits to the construction, the khan was beheaded. And it is no coincidence that the date of the completion of the madrasa was defined by the poet-historian Muniz with the words: “Ah, save from slaves!” “Dod, az gulomon!” – 1139 г. (1726 A.D.).

Despite considerable repairs at the end of the nineteenth century, the madrasa as a whole was in a distressed and neglected state until the Revolution.

The façade of the madrasa faces the Pahlavan Mahmud complex. The path down the stairs emphasises that it was built much earlier than the surrounding buildings.

The architectural composition of the entire structure is largely in keeping with the traditional madrasa type, with a two-storey main façade with a tall portal in the centre and single-storey buildings around a square courtyard.

There are only 55 hujras here. The portal contains an inscription of historical character proclaiming the conditions for the waqf maintenance of the madrasa. The cleric Beket Ata also graduated from the Shergazi Madrasa.

At that time, one had to have a certain basic knowledge before entering this madrasa, one had to study the Arabic alphabet in the local mosques, learn the Haftiyak, which is a seventh of the Quran, within 2 – 3 years.

Places of interest
Tschodra Hovli in Chiwa

Khiva - Summer Palace Chodra Hovli

Khiva - Summer Palace Chodra Hovli

The Summer Palace Chodra Hovli (1871) is one of the Khiva Khan’s country palaces built near Khiva. It is a unique example of a submerged building pattern with towers made of mud bricks.

On the ground floor are the stables and storerooms, on the second and third floors are the living quarters, each with a separate Aiwan (terrace), and the detached female half was on the fourth floor.

“Typical sections are grouped around a courtyard in the Chodra Hovli Summer Palace of Khiva, forming a variety of compositions. The organisation of the courtyard is characteristic of both rural and urban dwellings, the difference being in the material (urban houses have wooden frames filled with lumps of mud, while rural houses have mud blocks), in the composition (rural courtyards include a house courtyard) and in the presentation of the architecture (the courtyards are fortress-like, surrounded by blank walls with turrets).

The depth of the house in both cases leads to deep-roofed passage – dolon. The house is divided into two courtyard complexes: the front half for guests (Dishan-Hovli or tashqari) and the private residential section (Ichan-Hovli or ichkari).

In the front half, the section consists of a reception room – mehmon-khana with Aiwan and in the residential section, the number of residential sections is multiplied according to the family composition. The living quarters are divided into summer quarters, located in the north, and winter quarters, located on the other sides of the courtyard.

It is very typical of urban houses to contrast the high northern öng Aiwan and the southern low ters Aiwan, which improves the movement of air in the courtyard and allows the temperature to be somewhat reduced in the summer heat.

Sometimes there is only one Aiwan in the courtyard – but it shades half the property and even the whole courtyard. In large rich houses, the aiwans can take the form of a light columned gallery around the courtyard.

And in a rural cottage-type dwelling, a kushka, a Khorezmian house built of pakhsa (chodra hovli), suddenly takes on a tower-like, four-storey form as the part consisting of a living room and an Aiwan rises vertically, going from two blind cells on the ground floor to two open Aiwans on the fourth floor.

This house is unique. Such monuments have not survived in Central Asia, but we can judge the existence of multi-storey buildings, especially in urban areas, from archaeological data and miniature paintings illustrating medieval manuscripts.

The image of a palatial pavilion like Chodra Hovli standing in the middle of an oriental garden (Chorbogh), crowned by open Aiwans”.

Places of interest
Tash Darwaza Tor in Chiwa

Khiva - Tash Darvaza Gate

Khiva - Tash Darvaza Gate

Tash Darvaza Gate – the southern gate of Ichan-Kala in Khiva, built in the 30-40s of the XIX century during the reign of Allakuli-Khan. The gates were used by the caravans coming from the Caspian Sea. The main southern facade has two massive towers.

The gate is a volumetric six-chamber building of longitudinal-axial composition, symmetrical about the central axis, south-north, which, blocking the elongated street section, is followed by two vaulted rooms connected by arched openings with the side-closed rooms of smaller dimensions (served for customs guards, watchmen and shops). The southern side rooms are connected by the passage with small two-storey round chambers in cylindrical towers at the sides of the corridors. The northern pylons had two spiral staircases leading to the roof.

The façades of the Tash-Darvaza Gate impress with their simplicity and monumentality of form. Flat-profiled façade arches in U-shaped flat frames flanked by massive towers on the south façade and decorative guldasta – on the north façade. At the top of the south façade were, until recently, brick battlements flanked by arrows.

The top layer in the area from the passageway was not raised, but the cupola structures remained. The four supporting arches under the dome quadrangles were connected by landings and lined with false spherical sails in between. The side rooms also had domed ceilings.

The facades and interiors of the Tash-Darvaza Gate are undecorated, left in the texture of the masonry in the cavity.

The dimensions of the Tash-Darvaza Gate in Khiva: general in plan – 19.7×17.0 m; height – 10.0 m; the span of the arches of the passage – 4.83 m; side spaces – 3.2×3.2 m; general height – 9.3 m.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala - Khiva

Khiva - Tash Hauli Palace

Khiva - Tash Hauli Palace

Tash-Hauli Palace (1831-1841) – an outstanding example of late architecture that embodies the characteristic features of architecture in Khiva. Tash-Hauli (Stone Courtyard) consists of a complex of palace and living quarters united into a single organism by a high brick wall.

Located in the eastern part of Khiva, Tash-Hauli Palace was built by Allakuli-Khan. The construction of the palace took about 8 years, from 1830 to 1838. The living quarters of the harem were built first, then the mehmon-khona, the place for official receptions, and finally the Arzkhona, the courtroom.

The best architects of the time were taken to the place of execution for refusing to build the palace in two years. It took Usto Kalandar Khivagi eight years.

In the southern part of the courtyard of the harem, small aiwans were built, four of which were for the khan’s wives (according to the Shari’ah, a man was not allowed to have more than four wives), the fifth aiwan, richly decorated, served as a living room for the khan.

Each aiwan had a lounge for the household servants. The harem was furnished according to the Khorezm tradition of decorating the female half (ichan hauli). Some of the details of the fortified fortress can be found in the design of the palace, which is in keeping with the secluded lifestyle of the female inhabitants of the harem.

After the harem, the mehmon-khona (ishrat hauli) was built. A square courtyard with a circular elevation for the yurt was completely built over with rooms and aiwans. The southern aiwan was used for ceremonies and receptions of envoys.

The majolica-decorated aiwans of the mehmon-khona, with lightly painted ceiling and small turrets on the sides, are similar to a theatre inside and full of solemnity.

Arzkhona (courtroom) is located in the southwestern part of Tash-Hauli. It is twice the size of the Mehmon-khona. Just like the Mehmon-khona, the Arzkhona is decorated with majolica. The work is by the famous master Abdullah, nicknamed “Genius”.

This master decorated all the courts of the Tash-Hauli palace. The reign of Khan of Khiva Allakuli-Khan is characterised by strong power of the Khan, successful international policy and progress in trade with Russia.

This made it possible to decorate buildings abundantly. The Tash-Hauli Palace of the Khan in Khiva Allakuli-Khan is the most prominent architectural object of the XIX century. Small restoration works have not changed the originality of the palace and it can well be considered a museum of Khiva’s architecture of that time.

From the outside, the wall is enlivened by small half-towers with lanterns. The wall is crowned with battlements. All this is reminiscent of the architecture of the fortresses of the Middle Ages. First, the southern half of the palace was built: the reception courtyard – Arz-Houli and the entertainment courtyard – Ishrat-Houli.

Later, a separate family courtyard, haram, was added to them. In terms of composition, the first two have much in common: rectangular, slightly elongated from north to south, on their south side is the main hall with a high aiwan, above which are rooms with aiwans on the second floor.

The centre of the composition of these courtyards is undoubtedly the main aiwan, which extends over two floors, with a traditional column in the middle. The walls of the façade are secured by decorative towers – guldasta.

The walls of the aivan are completely covered with painted majolica. The third courtyard – the largest – extended in a rectangle from east to west. Around the courtyard are two-storey residential and farm buildings.

There are five “typical” living rooms and three corridors in a row. The living quarters consist of a single-column aiwan with one room. At the back of the house is a dark utility room with a staircase to a mezzanine floor.

The construction of the palace was started by Usto Tajiddin, who was later succeeded by the architect Kalandar and the tiler Abdullah.

Places of interest
Tim Allakuli Khan in Khiva

Khiva - Tim Allakuli Khan

Khiva - Tim Allakuli Khan

After Allakuli-Khan built a caravanserai in Khiva in 1832-1833, which had an inn, a storehouse and market stalls, it became clear that the covered bazaar – Tim was needed, which was added to the caravanserai in 1836-1838. It successfully combined the functions of city gate, bazaar and “lobby” of the caravanserai. Nowadays, the caravanserai and the Tim look like a single structure.

The trade in the Tim took place in the side shops, where the merchants stood with their goods. Here one could buy not only local goods, but also Russian or English fabrics, silk scarves, boots from Bukhara, crockery from China, and so on. The rais (chairman) checked the correctness of the scales and supervised the ordering. He was empowered to settle disputes on the spot with taxes and blows. A fee was charged at the gate for import and export of goods. The dimensions of Tim Allakuli-Khan in Khiva are: 74 x 26.5 metres, diameter of the domes from 9.5 to 6 metres.

Allakuli-Khan (1794-1842), ruled in the years 1825-1842 and was the fifth ruler of the Uzbek Kungrat dynasty in the Khanate of Khiva. He came to power after the death of his father Muhammad Rahim-Khan I (1806-1825).

During the reign of Allakuli Khan in Khiva, the Tash-Hovli Palace (1830-1832), the Medrese (1834-1835), the Caravanserai (1832-1833), Tim (Trade Dome), the mosques Saitbay, Ak Mosque and others were built.

In 1842, Khiva was surrounded by a six-kilometre-long outer wall (Dishan-Kala), which was built in 30 days.

During the reign of Allakuli Khan in Khiva, the poets like Muniz Khorezmi, Rojih, Dilavar, Syed Mirza Junaid, Mirza Masiho created art. The historians Muniz Khorezmi and Agakhi wrote the history of Khorezm.

After the death of Allakuli Khan, power in Choresm passed to his son, Rahimkuli Khan (1842-1845).

Places of interest

Khiva - Tugon Tura Mausoleum

Khiva - Tugon Tura Mausoleum

The Tugon Tura Mausoleum, built in the 19th century, is located on Yusuf Tashpulatov Street in Ichan-Kala of Khiva city, in front of the northwest corner of Tash Hauli Palace.

According to available information, the mausoleum was built in honour of Tugon Tura, who was descended from Turkic Muslims and was one of the envoys to Khiva of Qutayba ibn Muslim, who conquered Khorezm in 712. The mausoleum was restored in the 19th century.

In the old town, also called the city centre, the number of attractions is simply phenomenal – here you can’t walk two steps without coming across a new one. They all have both an amazing history and an exquisite and luxurious exterior. This is not to say that the outer city is uninteresting – there are also many places to visit. But while the outer city is not particularly well preserved, the inner city presents itself almost in its original form.

According to ancient legend, the city of Khiva was built around a well dug by one of the descendants of the biblical Noah. According to legend, the water in this well was particularly pure and delicious. It still stands in the city and is one of the monuments of antiquity. Khiva was founded more than 2.5 centuries ago, after which it became one of the richest and most prosperous settlements of Khorezm. At the beginning of its emergence, the city was succeeded by various ruling dynasties, it was repeatedly conquered by warlike tribes, and at the beginning of the XIII century, the troops of Genghis Khan destroyed almost the entire city.

Places of interest

Khiva - Turt Shaffaz Madrasah

Khiva - Turt Shaffaz Madrasah

The Turt Shaffaz Madrasah is located in Dishan-Kala (outer city of Khiva), at the intersection of Allaberganov Street and Turt Shaffaz Street. Construction of the Turt Shaffaz Madrasah in Khiva began in 1875 and was fully completed in 1885, during the reign of Muhammad Rahim Khan II.

It was a cult memorial. Nowadays there are three madrasas, a mosque, a pond, a minaret and a mausoleum. The structures are arranged around a square pond with trees along the perimeter.

The central part of the ensemble is the mosque, a four-columned domed building with aiwans on the façade, its columns decorated with wood carvings. The mosque has a small minaret.

The complex includes three dilapidated madrasahs with walled entrances. They are used as a cemetery, as is the Mazar Mausoleum. Isfandiyar Khan and his three military commanders were buried here.

And that is why people call this complex “Turt Shaffaz” (four warriors).

Isfandiyar Khan – Khan of Khiva in 1910-1918, the twelfth ruler of the Uzbek dynasty of Kungrat in the Khanate of Khiva.

He was born in 1871. In 1910, after the death of his father – Muhammad Rahim-khan II, Isfandiyar Khan came to power in Khorezm. Unlike his father, he was not distinguished by any special talents. During his reign, Islam Hodja, the open-minded vizier – prime minister, played a major role in the state. He financed the construction of a cotton purification factory, a hospital, a pharmacy, a post office, a telegraph and a secular school in Khiva. In 1908-1910, Islam Hodja built a cotton factory, a hospital, a pharmacy, a post office and a secular school. Islam Hodja built an ensemble of the smallest madrasa and the tallest minaret in Khiva in the southeast of Ichan-Qala. Islam Hodja was later murdered, not without Isfandiyar Khan’s knowledge.

Places of interest
Uch-Awliyo Mausoleum

Khiva - Uch Avliyo Mausoleum

Khiva - Uch Avliyo Mausoleum

The Uch-Avliyo Mausoleum is located in Khiva, near the western walls of the Tash Hauli Palace, it was built in memory of three saints and belongs to the Ichan-Kala development. The huge hall of the mausoleum is covered by a dome with a cellular vault.

The archaeological excavations have freed the mausoleum from the layers of earth. There are many burials in the mausoleum. The earliest date is 1561, it can be seen on the panel of the carved door. In the early 80s of the XX century, the entrance portal was damaged by heavy rain, and the aiwan pillars of the mosque were also badly damaged.

After restoration and reconstruction of the surrounding area, the Uch-Avliyo Mausoleum has become a frequently visited place in Khiva. A deeper offside niche in the axis of the hall crowned a latticed vault “kolab-kari”, commemorating the work of Bukhara masters who were probably involved in its construction. The names of the woodcarvers of Khiva on the entrance door of the mausoleum: Abdurahman, Abdullah ibn Sayyid Asad Hussein, son of Ahmad Samarkandi, and the year 969 A.D. The dimensions of the mausoleum: 16×10 m, hall – 6×6 m, height of the portal 12 m.

Places of interest
Ichan-Qal'a Mauern von Chiwa

Khiva - Walls of Ichan Kala

Khiva - Walls of Ichan Kala

The city walls of Ichan-Kala are a rare example of a medieval fortress that has survived to the present day. The city of Khiva was surrounded by two sets of walls – Ichan-Kala (inner city) and Dishan-Kala (outer city).

The walls of Ichan-Kala were built between the V and IV centuries BC. They are higher than the walls of Dishan-Kala, probably because of the natural relief (legend has it that the city was built on a sandy hill).

The city walls were built of mud bricks (40 x 40 x 10 cm) and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The Ichan-Kala walls of Khiva are 8 – 10 metres high, 6 – 8 metres wide and 2250 metres long.

Every 30 metres there are circular defence towers that extend beyond the walls of Ichan-Kala. On the walls and towers are jagged railings with narrow embrasures to repel enemy attacks during the siege.

In the system of defences there were ditches filled with water; even today this can be seen in relief in the southern part and to the north and west the asphalt covered the old ditches.

The city gates were also part of the protection system. They have special adaptations that were used by the guards who guarded the city.

The passage is covered by a vaulted roof (Koy-Darvoza) or, if the corridor is very long, by several domes.

On the sides of the corridor are vaulted rooms where the guards and tax collectors lived, there was also a courtroom and sometimes a prison. In eastern cities, gates and entrances to public buildings and private houses have a special significance: the more imposing they look, the greater the honour and recognition enjoyed by the city, the buildings and their creator.

In the course of time, the defensive function of the gate became less important and the gate became part of the urban design. The gate was decorated with beautiful, colourful tiles and ayats from the Koran.

Sometimes texts were written on the gates, such as eulogies to the Khan or excerpts from poems. Some gates have been converted into shops over time. The walls of Ichan-Kala have 4 gates: Ata-Darvoza, Polvon-Darvoza, Tash-Darvoza and Bagcha-Darvoza.

Places of interest
Yakubbay Chodscha Medrese in Chiwa

Khiva - Yakubbay Khoja Madrasah

Khiva - Yakubbay Khoja Madrasah

The historical complex of Khiva “Ichan-Kala” has many archaeological monuments from the XIX-XX centuries. When you come here, you can feel the connection of different times and peoples. Like in the fairy tale of Aladdin, there are many historical mausoleums and madrasahs in the streets of this old city, leading from one to another. One of these archaeological monuments of Khiva is the madrasah Yakubbay Khoja, which is located to the west of the old cult mausoleum Pahlavan Mahmud. The madrasah was built in 1873 by the wealthy merchant Yakubbay Khoja from Khiva.

Seen from above, the madrasa looks like a rectangle extending along the longitudinal axis from west to east. The vestibule group ends with a domed room, traditional for Muslim architecture, which leads to the inner courtyard through an arched gateway. In the northeast corner of the madrasa is a small domed mosque made of brickwork. The wooden doors are decorated with rich tiles by Khiva masters.

Places of interest

Khiva - Yar Muhammad Devon Mosque

Khiva - Yar Muhammad Devon Mosque

Some types of mosques were designed for the prayer of a large number of Muslims during the Muslim holidays of Kurban Hayit and Ramadan Hayit, celebrated twice a year, where a very large number of residents of the city and village would gather. The Yar Muhammad Devon (Sayid-Ota) Mosque was built in Khiva in the 18th century. It is located behind the Mausoleum of Said Allauddin and its eastern wall is adjacent to the Abdurasulboy Madrasah. The mosque’s architectural composition combines a domed hall and a high, flat aiwan. In plan, the Yar Muhammad Devon Mosque in Khiva looks like an offset rectangle with two sides tapering to the west; this may be because later additions were made to the main building in the form of a cube.

Places of interest

Khiva - Yunus Khan Mausoleum

Khiva - Yunus Khan Mausoleum

The Yunus Khan Mausoleum was built in Khiva between 1558 and 1559. It is located south of the Khoja Maram Medrese and is part of the Ichan-Kala settlement of Khiva.

It is a mausoleum with a two-domed portal and a tomb. The two rooms are covered with conical domes.

He was one of the predecessors of the Khorezm-Khan dynasty. Yunus-Khan was buried in one of the rooms of the mausoleum in Khiva. It is still unknown who is buried in the second tomb.

According to ancient legend, the city of Khiva was built around a well dug by one of the descendants of the biblical Noah. According to legend, the water in this well was particularly pure and delicious. It still stands in the city and is one of the monuments of antiquity. Khiva was founded more than 2.5 centuries ago, after which it became one of the richest and most prosperous settlements of Khorezm. At the beginning of its development, the city was succeeded by various ruling dynasties, it was repeatedly conquered by warlike tribes, and at the beginning of the XIII century, the troops of Genghis Khan destroyed almost the entire city.

In the middle of the XIII century, the city became the centre of the Khiva Khanate and the second period of development and prosperity, one of the most important and largest centres of Islam in the Orient. The city is rich in magnificent monuments, among which one can discover both secular and religious buildings.

Places of interest

Merv - Geoksyur settlement

Merv - Geoksyur settlement

Extensive ancient agricultural settlement in the old Tejen Delta, dating back to the 4th millennium BC. Geoksyur settlement is located not far from Geoksyur railway station (between Tejen and Merv). The area of the monument is 12 hectares and is more than 10 metres above the surrounding terrain.

The settlement consisted of multi-storey houses separated by narrow streets. All the houses were built of ordinary rectangular rough bricks. The material culture of Geoksyur is characterised by magnificently painted, thin-walled pottery decorated with complex and polychrome geometric ornaments.

In this respect, Geoksyur-style pottery differs significantly from contemporary pottery from other regions of ancient Turkmenistan. Another distinctive feature of Geoksyur is coroplastics (the production of miniature female statuettes from fired clay) with elaborate terracotta figures, always seated, often with elaborate high hairstyles. The monotypical faces always have large, protruding noses, possibly reflecting the anthropological type of the population.

In addition to these numerous figures, there are also isolated male figures, often with combat helmets on their heads. While the female figures symbolise the mother goddess, the male figures most likely represent military chiefs or leaders.

A third feature of Geoksyur are the hitherto unknown burial structures in the form of domed hollow tombs with group burials (tolos). These probably served as a kind of family vault.

People probably came to Geoksyur in the course of tribal settlement from southwestern Iran and possibly from Mesopotamia. There were several other settlements in the vicinity of Geoksyur in the ancient Tejendelta.

Nine of them have been investigated by archaeologists, and some of them have been given their vernacular names. These are Dashlidji-depe, Akcha-depe, Aina-depe, Yalangach-depe, Mullali-depe and Chong-depe. Together they formed the once fertile oasis of Geoksyur, whose inhabitants were among the pioneers in the construction of irrigation canals.

The traces of a Neolithic irrigation network found here are among the oldest in the world. About 50 hectares were irrigated with the help of artificially constructed canals from the riverbed of the Tedjen, which guaranteed the Geoksyur a relatively stable barley harvest.

The oasis settlements have evolved over the centuries from fortified villages with one-room huts to “pro-urban” settlements consisting of more complex blocks with multi-room houses.

Places of interest

Merv - Mausoleum of Muhammad ibn Zayd

Merv - Mausoleum of Muhammad ibn Zayd

The mausoleum of Muhammad ibn Zayd on the outskirts of the Seljuk capital – Merv, built around 1112. The mausoleum of Muhammad ibn Zayd is located west of Sultan Qala and is a remarkable monument from the early 11th century.

The name of the mausoleum is known as the Mausoleum of Muhammad Hanafiah. Muhammad Hanafiah was a real person and an ancestor of Khoja Ahmad Yassawi. According to genealogy, Muhammad Hanafiah’s father was Hazrat Ali Murtaza, the nephew and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.V), and his mother was Hanifa, the second wife of Hazrat Ali.

From them Muhammad Hanafiah was born and after twelve generations Khoja Ahmad Yassawi joined their family. Muhammad-ibn-Zayd became famous in his homeland for organising an uprising against the Arab caliphs, which was unfortunately brutally put down and the leader himself executed.

His head was cut off and a mausoleum was built on the spot where he was buried, which has since grown into a magnificent architectural complex. The mausoleum of Muhammad Hanafiah is made of rough stone at its core (with square sides of 8.5 m).

The entire volume is clad in fired bricks on the outside, and inside are rows of sails and a frieze inscription, carefully deciphered by Professor Masson, made of ornamental fired bricks.

The inscription dates it precisely to 1112 – 1113 and links it to the names of Muhammad Sayyid ibn Zayd, who was buried there, and Sharaf id-Din Abu Tahir, governor of Merv province, on whose orders the mausoleum was built in 1112.

Subsequently, the mausoleum with the dome was rebuilt and repaired several times. Another mausoleum and a mosque were built on either side. At the beginning of our century, the dome of the old structure collapsed. In 1937 it was restored by craftsmen from Bukhara – Kurban and Yusuf. Located to the west of the mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, the mausoleum of Muhammad-ibn-Zayd in Merv can be seen from afar amidst the greenery of the trees.

This low mausoleum, with its large dome harmoniously closing it, conveys a sense of peace and tranquillity. In its shade and among the surrounding trees, there is a feeling of coolness. One of the tamarisk bushes, considered sacred, is decorated like a Christmas tree with colourful scraps of cloth.

Nearby, in front of the entrance to the mausoleum, was a large sardoba, of which only a deep brick-lined pit remains, but no water. There is also no trace of the above-ground covering of the sardoba.

Muhammad Sayyid ibn Zayd lived in the eighth century and was considered a direct fifth-generation descendant of Hazrat Ali. The mausoleum over his tomb was built much later – in 506 Muslim calendar, in the XII century.

It was built of mud bricks and faced with a masonry of burnt bricks. It is a typical Khorasan architectural style with a central dome without a portal. The main façade with the entrance arch in the centre has a decoration of moulded stones.

The mausoleum has three large arches combined with narrow arched niches. The decorative panels are a jumble of beautiful brick patterns. There are beautiful ornamental paintings on the plastered walls of the interior, and above, up to the dome, there is a band of embossed brickwork, patterns and inscriptions in relief.

Laconicism and harmony are part of the architectural language of this memorable mausoleum, which is as old as the majestic Sanjar Mausoleum. The mausoleum has been freed from several layers of amateurish restorations.

The room contains a comparatively rare multi-lobed mihrab form. Intense colours were used in painting the mihrab leaves. Each of the 12 leaves of the “shell” was in bright colours, with white flowers with five petals and a yellow core scattered on a coloured background.

The mihrab is in a rectangular niche that was also once covered by a polychrome painting with a red frieze band at the top, containing an Arabic inscription underlined by a blue wide band.

Small fragments of the mural are barely recognisable. The walls of the laconic, prismatic space below the row of sails are finished with a brick frieze with a relief inscription in brick against the background of a fine carved plant ornament in alabaster.

The dome sails are also finished with a beautiful and each individual ornamental brickwork of fired bricks.

Places of interest

Samarkand - Bibi Khanum Mausoleum

Samarkand - Bibi Khanum Mausoleum

The inscription at the Bibi Khanum Mausoleum in Samarkand.

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious and Merciful. There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet. I testify that there is no God but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is his Servant and Messenger. There is no God but Allah, the only God who has no equal, the world belongs to him, the praise belongs to him. He gives life and takes it back. He is eternal and immortal: in the hands of his goodness he is the Lord of all things. All will return to you”.

The Bibi Khanum Mausoleum in Samarkand (beginning of XV century) located in front of the Jame Mosque of Bibi Khanum, was built in honor of his wife’s mother and was one of the first to be built in Samarkand under Temur.

The remains of an octahedral exterior and a cruciform one inside the mausoleum of Bibi-Khanym are its components. Madrasa Bibi Khanum also existed in the XVII century.

It is not clear to what extent Malikho’s words about the building of the madrasa (was destroyed by A’Bdullahan (XVI century) in such a way that “nothing of it is left except the mausoleum of Bibi Khanum”.

The Bibi-Khanum mausoleum apparently served as a burial place for women from the Temurid dynasty (it is associated like a mosque with the legendary ruler Bibi-Khanum). According to Clavijo, Bibi-Khanum’s mother was the first to be buried there.

There is no information about the burial of Bibi-Khanum itself (Sarai Mulk-Khanum), although popular tradition refers to this building as Bibi-Khanum’s mausoleum. It is a high octahedral structure with a cylindrical drum surrounded by a large Kufi inscription and an unsaved outer dome.

Inside, under the cruciform Gurkhana plan, there is a marble tomb with three female tombs in sarcophagi. The interior of the mausoleum is decorated with a mosaic panel and paintings on the plafond and walls, where ornamental motifs and stylish landscapes are presented.

In 1941 archaeological excavations of the skeleton and tombs were carried out here. In the years 1956 – 1957 the works on historical-architectural and archaeological research of monuments were carried out.

All tombstones are surrounded by a marble grid set by Ulugbek. The burial in the western part of Gur-i Emir, which was considered to be the tomb of Said Omar, should be called “the tomb of an unknown”, as the inscription on the tombstone itself emphasizes.

The upper tombstone of Temur is made of dark green nephrite, which was delivered by Ulugbek from the upper reaches of the river Ili in 1425. An Arabic inscription is carved into this stone in which it is claimed that Tamerlane is said to have descended from a common ancestor with Genghis Khan.

At the end of the inscription is the legendary tale of the immaculate testimony of one of Genghis Khan’s ancestors by a woman named Alunkuva, “who received him from the light that pierced through the mountain door and appeared before her as the image of a perfect man”, one of the descendants of Caliph Aliya.

This invented relationship with Genghis Khan was written after Temur’s death. By order of Nadir Shah, after the capture of Samarkand in 1740, the nephrite tombstone of Temur and double-winged metal gates were delivered from the mosque of Bibi-Khanum to Mashhad.

After checking them, Nadirshah ordered the stone and the gate to be returned to Samarkand and put “in its place”. The gravestones of other members of Temur’s family fill the following rooms of the building.

During the period of Soviet power from 1924, major renovation and restoration works were carried out on the territory of the mausoleum: the ceiling of the mausoleum was fixed on the lattice girders of the vault, thus removing the pressure of the tombstones on the mausoleum.

Places of interest
Bibi Khanum, Legende über den Bau der Moschee Bibi-Hanum, Legend about the building of the mosque Bibi-Khanum, Légende sur Construction de la Mosquée Bibi-Khanum, Leggenda sulla Costruzione della Moschea Bibi-Khanum, Легенда о строительстве мечети Биби-Ханум

Samarkand - Bibi Khanum Mosque

Samarkand - Bibi Khanum Mosque

Only four of the great buildings of that time have been preserved: the remains of the Ak-Saray Palace and the tomb of Amir Temur, the mausoleum of the Dorusiadat complex in Shakhrisabz, the mystical mausoleum of the Sufi-hoja Ahmad Yassawi in Turkestan and the ruins of a cathedral mosque in the capital Samarkand, known as the Bibi Khanum Mosque, which was to become the most magnificent mosque in the Muslim Orient.

From the Afrosiab Hill the traveller can enjoy the panorama of an ancient city with a huge bazaar, behind which is the building of the XIV-XV century – the Bibi Khanum Mosque in Samarkand. The Jome Mosque occupied a special place in the life of the medieval town. It was a building of great public importance, embodying the feudal power of state and religion.

The Bibi Khanum Mosque in Samarkand (translated as “Elder Wife”, according to one of the legends it was built by Temur’s eldest wife, Saray-Mulk-Khanum) had a different name – Friday Mosque of Samarkand, where thousands of male Muslims came. Actually, the mosque was built in 1399-1404 by order of Amir Temur after his return from the Indian invasion. It was a time when the architecture of Central Asia developed a monumental style of façade construction, the directions of which correspond to the famous statement of Amir Temur: “If you doubt our power, look at our buildings”. The mosque was built in a short period of time – five years – by talented local masters and stonemasons from Azerbaijan, Persia, Khorasan and India. To ease the heavy work, 99 elephants from India were used.

To date 5 structures have been preserved: a portal; on the opposite side, in the depth of a courtyard, there are large mosques; on the sides – small mosques; a minaret. The enormous work of historians, archaeologists and art historians gives us the opportunity to present the original appearance of the mosque. One of the characteristic features of the architectural ensembles of this period is the enormous size and proportionality, the proportionality of the compositional parts of the ensemble, a beautiful example of which is Bibi Khanum.

It is a grandiose building, located on the area of a 167 x 109 m high slender portal 36 m high and 46 m wide, a spacious courtyard 54 x 76 m, a monumental main mosque, which stands on the central axis of the complex. The height and width of the main hall of the mosque is 41 m. With a portal span of 18 m. The inner courtyard was bordered by a gallery with 480 marble columns and pillars and bright small mosques. The buildings were constructed of 27x27x5 cm bricks on a gangway. The entrance to the mosque was decorated with two wing gates made of seven-alloy, carved marble slabs and the richest decoration.

In the middle of the courtyard there is still a marble desk, which was made for the Holy Quran in gigantic sizes by Ulugbek. On the edges of the court there were minarets about which one of the Temur historians wrote: “The minaret raised its capitol to heaven and wept: ‘Verily, our deeds point to us’. About the dome of the mosque it was written even then: “Its dome would be the only one if the Milky Way was not a pair with it”.

It is remarkable that the dome of the mosque, which could be seen for many kilometres from the main entrance when approaching Samarkand, is not visible, as the height of the dome corresponded to the height of the portal.

The construction of the large mosque is executed in mayolica technique in combination with non-rigid bricks and carved, framed mosaic, decorated with the finest plant, geometric and epigraphic ornaments. The interior of the mosque was decorated with plaster paintings on the walls and gilded papier-mâché on the inside of the dome. The external decoration of the small mosques is inferior to that of the large mosque. This is an architectural technique whose purpose is to emphasise the dominant importance of the main building.

The decoration of the building has concentrated all the best that the masters achieved until the beginning of the XV century: Mayolica and carved mosaics, carved marble, carved wood, painting on the plaster and decoration in papier-mâché. This was a new stage in the development of traditional medieval mosques. The innovation of the master builders is also reflected in the pursuit of maximum aesthetics of form. Amazingly many things – double, raised on the drums of the domes, sharp points of the minarets, high portals, towers, elegant marble columns of the gallery with a vaulted ceiling. There is an introduction of the vertical as the most important element of architecture.

The mosque was built on a large scale, but without taking into account earthquakes with such increase in size. In spite of the deep foundations of the broken stone, huge masses of brick masonry in the walls, the thickness of which reaches five metres, began to fall down stones from the cracked dome already during Timur’s lifetime.

East of the mosque, on the opposite side of the street, there is an original monument – an octahedral, columnar mausoleum Bibi Khanum with a crypt. This building has no main façade; it was probably added to Bibi Khanum Madrasa.

The decoration of the mausoleum shows that it was built simultaneously with the mosque. In a spacious crypt on the floor there are marble sarcophagi. When it was opened in 1941, the remains of two other middle-aged women in rich clothing were found. It is possible that one of them was the Saray Mulk Khanim. A poetic legend about the construction of the Bibi Khanum mosque has been preserved until today.

The beautiful Bibi-Khanum, wife of Timur, was to surprise and delight her husband. When the ruler was absent during one of the numerous military campaigns, she called the best builders and masters of Samarkand to the palace and offered them to build the structure. The work started immediately. The walls grew quickly.

Meanwhile, Samarkand received news of Timur’s imminent return. Bibi Khanum constantly overreacted. Then the master builder made the condition: “The mosque will be built on time, but… you, Her Majesty, will give me a kiss”.
The Ruler was outraged: “I will give you any of my slaves of your choice. Why do you only look at me? Look at the painted eggs, they are of different colours and do not resemble each other at all, but when you break them, do they differ in any way? That is how we women are”.

But the architect insisted: “I want to answer you. Here are two identical glasses. One of them I fill with clear water, the other with white wine. And now they resemble each other, but when I touch them with my lips, one of them burns me with liquid fire and the other one I will not feel. It is love.”

Temur approached in Samarkand. The anger of Bibi Khanum had no limits. For so long the treasured surprise was in danger for the ruler. Besides, as legend has it, the master builder was young and handsome. And she agrees. At the last moment she tried to cover herself with her palm. But the kiss was so passionate that its heat penetrated the hand of beauty and left a fiery red stain on her cheek.

Only a few days later Temur had come to town. Domes and minarets rose before his eyes and amazed with their splendour. But his joy was overshadowed. When he saw the sign of the kiss on Bibi Khanum’s face, he went into a rage. Bibi Khanum confessed everything. By order of the “Iron Lame” the guards hurried to find the architect. Fleeing from persecution, he and his pupil climbed up the minaret of the mosque.

And when the guards ran up the countless steps behind them, they found only one student. “Where is the master builder?” – they asked – “The teacher made wings and flew to Meshhed,” he replied. That is a legend.

At the beginning of the XX century, the Bibi Khanum mosque was a destruction and majestic ruin, time was hard on the Friday mosque. But even these ruins leave an indelible impression. From the 1960s to the present day, as a result of restoration and grandiose works, the inner and outer domes were built, the vault of the portal and the base of the walls were reinforced, the interiors of small mosques were restored and minarets were rebuilt. The works are in progress. The Bibi Khanum Mosque in Samarkand is an immortal masterpiece of architecture in the Muslim Orient.

Places of interest
Basar Chorsu Samarkand

Samarkand - Domed Bazaar Chorsu

Samarkand - Domed Bazaar Chorsu

Behind the Madrasa Sher Dor in Samarkand is the historical Domed Bazaar Chorsu. In the meantime the bazaar has been restored. Chorsu (Chorsu – the covered market, literally – four corners) is a building that is situated next to the Sher Dor Madrasa. The domed bazaar Chorsu is located in the historical centre of Samarkand and is part of the architectural ensemble of Registan Square.

The historical sights such as the Shaybanid tomb stone complex, the Sher Dor Madrasa, the Tilla Kori Madrasa and the Ulugbek Madrasa are in the immediate vicinity.

In translation “Chorsu” also means “crossroads”. It is the common name of the historical bazaars in Central Asia, which has also been preserved from one of the historical bazaars in Tashkent. The building is a hexagonal pavilion crowned by a large dome in the centre and six smaller domes in the centre line of each of the wall surfaces. The chorsu was built in the 15th century at the crossroads connecting Samarkand with Shakhrisabz, Bukhara and Tashkent.

At the beginning of the XVIII century. At the beginning of the XVIII century the building was rebuilt and turned into a headwear shop. The building served as a business and trade centre. Not only various goods were sold here, but also deals and agreements were made.

In the XVIII. In the XVIII century the building was used as a centre for selling headwear. In 2005 the domed bazaar was restored and in order to restore the full height of the building a three meter thick layer of earth was uncovered from the surface.

Today, the domed bazaar of Chorsu houses a Samarkand Fine Art Gallery, which displays works by Uzbek artists and sculptures, as well as priceless works from the past. In 2005 the building was handed over to the local Academy of Arts as an exhibition gallery.

Nowadays you can also see the works of contemporary Uzbek authors.

Places of interest
Gur Emir Mausoleum - Samarkand

Samarkand - Gur Emir Mausoleum

Samarkand - Gur Emir Mausoleum

The inscription at the entrance to the Gur Emir mausoleum in Samarkand.

“The gracious and almighty Allah said: “Whoever enters here will find salvation!
“This is the paradise that was promised to us – enter it and stay in it forever!
Allah said: “Blessed and Allah Almighty, lead the righteous to Paradise and the rivers of Paradise, safe and secure. May the truth be above Almighty Allah!”
“The Prophet said peace be upon him: Death is the bridge that unites friends with friends.
“The Prophet said peace be upon him: Happy is he who lets go of the world before the world lets go of him; prepare his own grave before he enters it; please his Lord before he goes to him”.

Gur Emir means “tomb of the king” in Tajik. This architectural complex with its blue dome contains the tombs of Amir Temur (Tamerlan), his sons Shokhrukh and Miranshah, the grandsons Ulugbek and Sultan Muhammad.

Gur Emir is the mausoleum of the famous commander, ruler and founder of the Timurid dynasty – Amir Temur (Tamerlan) in Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
This mausoleum occupies an important place in the history of Islamic architecture, as it is a prototype of later mausoleums of the Grand Moguls (the Grand Mughal Empire in India), in particular the Humayun mausoleum in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra, built by the descendants of Temur, who ruled in Northern India for several centuries.

Part of the complex was built in the late 14th century by order of Sultan Muhammad. Only the foundations of the madrasa and khanaka, the entrance door and part of one of the four minarets have been preserved to this day.

Construction of the mausoleum Gur Emir in Samarkand itself began in 1403 after the sudden death of Sultan Muhammad, the direct heir of Amir Temur (Tamerlan) and his beloved grandson. In fact only Amir Temur’s (Tamerlan) other grandson, Ulugbek, completed the mausoleum.

During his reign the mausoleum became the family tomb of the Timurid dynasty. The entrance of the ensemble of Sultan Muhammad is richly decorated with carved bricks and various mosaics. The door was artistically decorated by an experienced master (ustad) Muhammad bin Mahmud Isfahani.

Externally the mausoleum of Gur Emir is a single-domed building. It is known for its simple forms and monumental appearance. It is an octagonal building, which is crowned by a blue fluted dome.

The external decoration of the walls is made up of blue and blue and white tiles arranged in such a way that the geometric and epigraphic ornamentation on the background of terracotta tiles can be seen from afar.

The dome, 15 metres in diameter and 12.5 metres high, is painted with deep rosettes and white tiles in bright blue. The ribbed decorations give the dome an amazing expressiveness.

During the reign of Ulugbek, the passageway was created to provide an entrance to the mausoleum. Inside the mausoleum there is a high and spacious chamber with deep niches on the sides and a variety of decorations. The lower part of the walls is covered with onyx panels.

Each of these panels is decorated with paintings. Above the brick group there is a marble cornice in the shape of a stalactite. Large areas of the walls are decorated with various motifs; the arches and the inner dome are decorated with boxes made of papier-mâché, gilded and decorated with various motifs.

The decorative carved tombstones in the inner room of the mausoleum only indicate the location of the actual tombs in the crypt directly under the main hall.

Amir Temur also built a tomb for himself in Shakhrisabz, but when Amir Temur died in 1405 during his campaign to conquer China, the roads to Shakhrisabz were covered with snow and so he was buried in Samarkand.

During the reign of Ulugbek a dark green nephrite stone was laid over Amir Temur’s grave. This stone was formerly used in the temple of the palace of the Chinese emperor, then as the throne of Khan Kabek (descendant of Genghis Khan) in Karshi.

In 1740 the King of Persia – Nadir Shah – stole the stone, and it is believed that from that moment on it brought failure to his succeeding masters. His advisers convinced him to return the stone to its rightful place.

The second time the stone was stolen happened in 1941 when Soviet archaeologists discovered the burial chamber. During this research the sculptor Gerasimov restored the features of Amir Temur on the basis of his skull and it was also confirmed that he was a giant for his time, more than 1.80 m tall and paralysed.

The murder of Ulugbek and the authenticity of other graves were also confirmed. Next to Amir Temur’s grave are the marble gravestones of his sons, Shokhrukh and Miran Shoh and his grandsons, Sultan Muhammad and Ulugbek.

The remains of Mir Said Baraka, the spiritual teacher of Amir Temur, are also found in this mausoleum. Some architects see the Gur Emir Mausoleum, the Rukhabad Mausoleum and the Aksaray Mausoleum as a unified ensemble of mausoleums because of their proximity to each other.

Places of interest

Samarkand - Hazrat Khizr Mosque

Samarkand - Hazrat Khizr Mosque

The Hazrat Khizr Mosque in Samarkand is first mentioned in the period of the Arab conquest of Sogd (beginning of the VIII century). According to legend, after the capture of Samarkand by the troops of Qutaiba ibn Muslim in 712, the Arabs tried to flood the city fortress (Kala) by blocking the Arzis canal with a dam. However, a huge white bird came down from the sky and destroyed the dam. In memory of this event, one of Qutaiba ibn Muslims’ confidants, Muhammad ibn Vasi, built the Hazrat Khizr Mosque on the site of the Zoroastrian temple worshipped by the Sogdians at the southern tip of Afrasiab. The mosque was completely destroyed during the Mongolian conquest in 1220.

The current mosque was built on an old foundation in 1854. In 1884, extension and reconstruction work was carried out in the building. In 1899 the aywan (summer terrace) of the mosque was rebuilt and the Darvazahana (entrance gate) was added. The works were completed in 1919, when the entrance portal and the eastern minaret were built by the famous master from Samarkand, Abduqadir bin Baqi (Abduqadir Baqiyev), and Darvazahana (entrance gate) was covered with a ribbed dome.

The Hazrat Khizr Mosque in Samarkand is an outstanding example of the traditional architecture of the Samarkand school. It is a rectangular structure measuring 30×16 metres. The composition of the mosque is asymmetrical. Its main elements are a winter khanaqa covered with a dome and a column ayvan (summer terrace). In the central part of its western side there is a mihrab with hujras on both sides. On the side of the mosque there is a square entrance hall with a ribbed dome on a multifaceted drum (darvazahana) and a portal flanked by guldasta towers with a carved wooden door from the XIX century. Separated from the building is an elegant oriental minaret. On the west side of the mosque façade there is a Guldasta tower that balances the minaret. The mosque is decorated with ceiling paintings, kirma on plates, carved ganch in ornaments and medallions, ganch casts in frames and stalactite cornice.

Places of interest
Muslim Tour in Usbekistan, Muslim Tour in Uzbekistan, Tour islamique en Ouzbékistan, Tour Musulmano in Uzbekistan

Samarkand - Imam al Bukhari Complex

Samarkand - Imam al Bukhari Complex

In the village of Khartang in Payaryk district, 25 km from Samarkand is one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites of Islam – the complex of Imam al-Bukhari.

Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari is a famous theologian and Hadith scholar (Hadithology is the science of Hadith, reports on the utterances and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad) and the author of the second most important Muslim book after the Koran, “Al-Jomiy al-Sahih” (“A Trusted Collection”).

Imam Al-Bukhari was born in Bukhara in 810. It is known that his great-grandfather was one of the first to adopt Islam. His father was one of the tellers of holy legends. His father died when Al-Bukhari was still a child. Al-Bukhari remained with his mother, who raised him. She was an educated woman who trained the boy in various sciences. Muhammad was a sensitive, intelligent man and had an extraordinary memory for his age. At the age of 7 he learned the whole Koran by heart, at the age of 10 he knew several thousand Hadiths by heart. In 825, when he was 16 years old, al-Bukhari went to the Hajj in Mecca and Medina with his mother and his older brother Ahmad. After the pilgrimage, his mother and brother returned to Bukhara and he travelled for many years to different Muslim countries, where he studied with famous Islamic scholars of the time.

According to a legend he collected hundreds of thousands of hadiths, of which he knew 300,000 by heart. He spent 42 years of his life studying them. He began to write his book in Basra and continued writing it for many years, including, according to him, hadiths from 1080 experts. His book contains 7275 authentic Hadiths. Proof of the authenticity of the Hadith is the reliability of the transmission path and each of its connections, which gives a moral picture of the transmitter on which he can rely. Al-Bukhari attached particular importance to identifying the persons who served as the source of the transmission. He inserted only those hadiths that were made into “credible” statements by people who were direct witnesses of the Prophet’s act. Imam al-Bukhari had been working on his book for 16 years.

It is known from sources that he wrote many other books, including “Ta’rihih Kabir” (“The Great History”). After writing “As-Sakhih”, he returned to Bukhara and began to teach anyone who wanted to learn, because he believed that learning together would bring great benefits to society through literacy. His authority was so high that a hadith unknown to him was considered untrustworthy by the people.

Regardless of his will, he clashed with the ruler of Bukhara, Tahiridd Holid ibn Ahmad, and was forced to move to the village of Khartoang near Samarkand, where he died in 870. The cemetery in the village of Khartang in the Payarik district of Samarkand region became the most venerated and holy place of pilgrimage. In the XVI century a small mosque was built near the Imam-al-Bukhari mausoleum and Chinar trees were planted.

During the time of the Soviet Union this Muslim holy place was forgotten and no religious ceremonies were held here. The mosque gradually fell into disrepair, but it was to be revived in 1954 thanks to the visit of Indonesian President Sukarno. After his visit to Moscow, President Sukarno arrived in Tashkent and asked to be allowed to venerate the remains of St. Imam al-Bukhari. The authorities of the Republic, having heard this, were even confused at first because they had already forgotten who Imam al-Bukhari was and where his tomb was located. In a hurry the order was given to send the Commission to Samarkand immediately. The authorities could not refuse President Sukarno, since the Soviet Union was then beginning to establish international relations with many countries, including countries in the Islamic East, on Khrushchev’s initiative, and the refusal therefore threatened to cause an international scandal. When the authorities arrived on the scene, however, they saw an extremely unpleasant picture: the mosque was completely abandoned and there was not even a gravestone on Al Bukhari’s grave. And on the orders of the High Command, the mosque and the surrounding area were cleaned up as much as possible within one day and even an asphalt road to the mosque was laid in a very short time. In short, the Al Bukhari Mosque welcomed President Sukarno. He bowed before the grave of the great scholar and honoured his memory. President Sukarno was followed by Somali President Madiba Keita, who also visited Tashkent and asked to visit the tomb of St. Ismail al-Bukhari. The Ismail al-Bukhari Mosque was then handed over to the Islamic Council of Muslims of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, apparently on the orders of the Centre (Moscow). Since then the mosque has been visited again through prayer.

After the independence of Uzbekistan, the Complex of Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari in Samarkand was restored. In 1998, a majestic memorial complex was built in the village of Khartoum, which includes a mausoleum, a mosque, a library and a Koran school. In the same year 1998, the celebrations of the 1225th birthday of the famous scientist took place in Samarkand on 23 October.

Access to the complex is through an entrance portal with carved gates. In the centre of the Complex is the mausoleum of Imam Ismail al-Bukhari in the shape of a rectangular prism, square at the base, measuring 9×9 m and 17 m high. The dome of the mausoleum is double, ribbed and decorated with blue tiles. The walls are decorated with mosaics, majolica, ganche, onyx and granite with plant and geometrical ornaments. In the centre there is a gravestone made of light green onyx.

On the left side of the courtyard there is a mosque, a khonaqo and a hall of 786 square meters, where 1500 believers can pray at the same time. On the right side there is a library and a museum with rare copies of handwritten and lithographic books on Islamic religion, gifts from statesmen of different states, including a part of the “Kiswah” – a ceiling piece from the Kaaba in Mecca, which was presented to the memorial by the King of Saudi Arabia.

At the back of the courtyard is a hadith training centre. In the middle of the courtyard there is a water basin – “Khauz” with ancient Chinar trees, next to which there is a medicinal water spring.

In order to research the spiritual heritage of Imam al-Bukhari in depth and to spread it widely, an international foundation was established, which has been publishing its own spiritual and educational journal since 2000. Al-Bukhari’s books are used in madrassas and Islamic universities as the main textbook for the study of the Sunna (holy tradition) about the Prophet Muhammad.

Places of interest

Samarkand - Ishrat Khana Mausoleum

Samarkand - Ishrat Khana Mausoleum

The Ishrat Khana mausoleum in Samarkand dates back to the reign of the Temurid Abu Said (1451 – 1469), the ruins of which bear a somewhat unexpected name: “Ishrat Khana” – “House of Joy”, obviously because of a very rich architectural design.

There are legends that connect this building with Temur, but in 1896 the archaeologist Vyatkin found a document that says that a noble woman Habiba-Sultan, wife of Temurid Sultan Ahmed Mirza, built a domed building over the grave of her sister-in-law, Princess Hawend Sultan biki, daughter of the then ruler Abu Said.

This building, which dates back to 1464, was a dynastic mausoleum for a wife and children from the Temurid house. According to written records from 1464, the building was commissioned by the wife of Sultan Abu Said Habiba Sultan Begim in memory of her deceased daughter, Sultan Hawend biki.

During archaeological excavations in 1940, up to thirty women and children were found buried here. The building described represented a whole complex of buildings.

The central square was occupied by the burial vault, which was decorated with a high portal from the west. From the south, the building was adjoined by the arched dome gallery, which provided an additional entrance to the tomb.

On the north side there was a mosque. In the corners of the building there were vaulted rooms for people who served the mausoleum. Only the ruins of this building have been preserved.

In 1903 the dome collapsed together with the high drum in an earthquake. In the 1940s restoration works were carried out to preserve the monument. The central square was occupied by the tomb, which was decorated with a high portal from the west.

From the south, the arched domed gallery adjoined the building, through which an additional entrance to the tomb was created. On the north side there was a mosque. In the corners of the building there were vaulted rooms for people who served the mausoleum.

The Ishrat Khana Mausoleum is located north of the Abdi-Darun mazar in Samarkand. It is a building from the second half of the XVth century with a large portal and a high central hall, above which the dome was still preserved in the XXth century. Under the hall there is a burial chamber with 23 burials of women and children.

Inside the mausoleum mazaik panels, wall paintings and plaques were used. The meaning of Ishrat-khana “house of joy” is to convey the idea of the “eternal home for paradisiacal life”.

Places of interest
Abu Mansur al-Maturidi Mausoleum, Legende von Scheich Maturidi, Legend of Sheikh Maturidi, Légende du Cheikh Maturidi, Leggenda dello Sceicco Maturidi, Легенда о Шейх Матуриди

Samarkand - Mausoleum Abu Mansur al-Maturidi

Samarkand - Mausoleum Abu Mansur al-Maturidi

The Abu Mansur al-Maturidi Mausoleum – is located in Samarkand, near the famous Registan Square. The mausoleum was built over the tomb of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (870 – 944), a famous Islamic theologian, expert of Fiqh (Islamic law) and interpreter of the Koran (Mufassir).

The scientist was buried at the Chokardiza cemetery in Samarkand, where according to legend more than 3000 scientist-theologians were buried. A mausoleum was built over the grave, which was destroyed in the 1930s.

Abu Mansur al-Maturidi was born in the town of Maturid, near Samarkand, where he studied religious disciplines. He then taught Fiqh and Kalam. Maturidi believed that man had the freedom of choice and that faith consisted in the verbal recognition of Allah and not in religious rites.

In 2000, on the 1130th anniversary of the birth of Muhammad Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, an architectural complex designed by the architects Salakhutdinov and Nurullaev was built on the site of the destroyed mausoleum.

The interior was decorated by Najmiddinov, the exterior by Asadov. The dimensions of the mausoleum are 12 × 12 × 17.5 meters. The building is crowned with a double dome, the outer one – ribbed – is decorated with blue majolica, the drum is decorated with 24 arches.

On the white marble gravestone are engraved the sayings of a scientist and you can read the sayings of Imam al-Maturidi. To the west of the mausoleum there is a small building with a dome, on the north side a hill (Sufa) with tombstones from the IX-XVIII century. In the garden there is a pavilion – a rotunda with the tomb of the lawyer Burhaniddin Al-Margiloni.

The Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi had great theological knowledge and was known and highly respected not only among his numerous students but also in the scientific world of the Muslim Orient.

Places of interest

Samarkand - Mausoleum of St. Daniel

Samarkand - Mausoleum of St. Daniel

The Mausoleum of St Daniel (Daniyar) in Samarkand is a unique burial place of the saint, who is venerated in three world religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. It is located on the high hill of Afrosiab, on the outskirts of Samarkand, off the coast of the Siab River. Muslims call him the prophet Khodja Daniyar, the Jews call him the prophet Daniel, and in Christianity he is known as the prophet Daniel.

In the Jewish religion, the prophet Daniel was a close associate of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar for his success in science, art and wise interpretation of dreams, which brought him fame. In his old age, the prophet moved to the ancient city of Susa, where he died and was buried in the royal mausoleum.

Islam has its own version. The Prophet Hoja Daniyar is considered to be an associate of Kusam ibn Abbas, known as the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad. During the military campaign of Amir Temur to Asia Minor, the arriving army was unable to conquer the city of Suza. Local wise men told the surprise invader that the city was protected by the remains of St. Daniel. Amir Temur went to the saint’s tomb to take a handful of the holy land and bring it to Samarkand. On the way home, however, a caravan of camels suddenly stopped near the city. It was a sign from above and there they decided to build a Mausoleum.

After the mausoleum was built, the tomb began to grow over the years and reached a length of more than 17 metres (about 18 metres), according to legend. The Mausoleum of St Daniel was regularly completed and extended, and right at the beginning of the XX century a long rectangular building of the Mausoleum with a chain of five low domes was built above the tomb of the Prophet.

Inside the Mausoleum there is a long Dakhma in which the Prophet is buried. On the grounds of the Mausoleum Complex there is a spring, which is considered to be healing and holy. Many pilgrims drink water from this spring in the hope of healing their illnesses or simply being sanctified. In addition, an Aywan (summer terrace) for prayer was built on the territory of the Complex.

In 2001, the city of Samarkand and its historical architectural and archaeological monuments, including the Mausoleum and the Khoja Doniyor Complex, were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the name “Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures”.

Places of interest

Samarkand - Registan Square

Samarkand - Registan Square

Registan Square is the meaning of ” Sand court”. Registan Square is an administrative, commercial and craft centre of the city in the Orient. Registan Square in Samarkand is one of the outstanding examples of urban planning in Central Asia, which was built between XV – XVII centuries and consists of three Koran schools – Ulugbek Madrasah (1417-1420), Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619-1636) and Tilla-Kari Madrasah (1647-1660). With Registan Square you can “turn the pages” of Samarkand several thousand years of history. The entire history of the medieval town is also reflected here. On the north-eastern side there is the Chorsu market place, built in the XVIII century.

It is said that all roads go to Rome. There is no doubt that all roads lead from Samarkand to Registan. Six radial roads converged to the square, at the crossing of which the Telpak-Furushon bazaar was built at the beginning of the XVth century. On the northern side of the square Ulugbek built a caravanserai with his name. All streets bordering it were filled with small workshops and benches. Four years after the caravansary was built, Ulugbek built a khanaka on the site where Sher-Dor Medresse now stands. Therefore the market place had to be dismantled. Everyone who enters this square is in a special mood: it seems that centuries later the cries of the craftsmen, the murmur of the Oriental bazaar, the voices of the heralds announcing the decrees of the rulers come here… In the time of Amir Timur, Registan was the most important market place of the city. During the reign of Mirzo Ulugbek it takes on a festive and official character. However, Registan has not lost its importance as a centre of public life, trade and craft activities. Outstanding achievements of the artistic thinking of the XV century are architectural ensembles. The most important urban planning task at present is the architectural design of Registan Square.

Places of interest
Mausoleum Shaybanids

Samarkand - Shaybanid Mausoleum

Samarkand - Shaybanid Mausoleum

East of the Madrasa Tilla-Kari in Samarkand is the Shaybanid Mausoleum, a stack of tombstones, the oldest of which dates from the XVI century. The founder of the Shaybanid Dynasty was Abul Khair’s grandson, Muhammad Shaybani, who settled in Tashkent in 1500 with the support of the Chagatai Khanate, conquered Samarkand and Bukhara and overthrew the last rulers of the Timurid Dynasty who ruled there. Shaybani then turned against his supporters and conquered Tashkent in 1503. In 1506 he took Khiva and in 1507 he attacked Merv (Turkmenistan), Eastern Persia and Western Afghanistan. The Shaybanids prevented the attack of the Safavids, who conquered Akkoyunlu (Iran) in 1502. The Persian Shah Ismail I of the Safavid Dynasty was alarmed at the success of the Shaybani Khan. He was confronted not only with political interests, but also with religious politics. The fact is that Shah Ismail declared Shiism to be the state ideology and Shaybani-Khan defended the Sunni. In December 1510 at the Battle of Merv, where 30,000 men were waiting for reinforcements, Muhammad Shaybani-Khan came out of the city with the 5,000-man Army and was ambushed. It was surrounded by Shah Ismail’s 17,000-strong army and was defeated despite the stubborn resistance. The decapitated body of Shaybani-Khan was buried in Samarkand, the capital of his empire. Today, Shaybani-Khan’s gravestone is displayed in the Ermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

The Shaybanid Mausoleum in Samarkand was destroyed in the 1870s by the occupying forces (of Tsarist Russia). After Shaybani-Khan’s death his only son, Muhammad Temur Sultan (died 1514) remained. From the sister (Khanzad) of the Founder of the great Mughal Empire Babur, Shaybani Khan had a son, Khurram, who died some time after his father’s death. In spring 1511 his uncle, Kuchkundzhi-Khan (1511-1530) was elected Khan of all Uzbeks. He was the son of Abulkhayir-Khan (1428-1468) and the daughter of Mirzo Ulugbek (1409-1449) Rabiya Sultan Begim (died 1485, buried in Turkestan). It should be noted, however, that the real power in the country belonged to Ubaidullah Khan, who succeeded in defeating the Safavids and maintaining independence from Iran. Thanks to this, the population retained its Sunni faith. Under the rule of Kuchkundzhi Khan, Samarkand remained the capital of the Shaybanid Empire.  The Uzbek invasion in the 16th century was the last stage in the folk history of the modern Uzbek nation.

Places of interest
Afrasiyab, Geheimnis des Hügels Afrasiab, Mystery of the Hill Afrasiab, Mystère de la colline d'Afrasiab, Mistero della collina Afrasiab, Тайна холма Афрасиаб

Samarkand - the Afrasiyab Settlement

Samarkand - the Afrasiyab Settlement

Afrasiyab is the name of the legendary and mythical King of Turan and one of the legendary heroes “Shahnameh”, poems of the great Persian poet Ferdowsi. Under the same name is known the place where the ancient Samarkand – its original core – the settlement Afrasiyab was located.

It was one of the first settlements on the territory of the modern city, called Marakanda, and was founded in the middle of the first millennium BC, when it was surrounded by fortified walls.

Turan, in turn, is the name of a vast territory that occupies almost all of Central Asia. At the beginning of the VIII. It was conquered by the Arabs and soon became an important centre of Muslim culture.

In 1220 it was almost completely destroyed by the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan. Afrasiyab was conquered by Alexander the Great in 329 BC. Excavations carried out (with interruptions) since 1874 have shown that life on Afrasiyab was almost uninterrupted from the VI century BC until its destruction by the Mongols in 1220.

The Afrasiyab settlement consists of a citadel, an inner city and a suburb. Residential and craft quarters, a mosque, the remains of a palace from the VII-VIII centuries, where polychrome murals were discovered in 1965, have been opened.

The Afrasiyab settlement is now a huge accumulation of uninhabited hills bordering the modern city on the north side. In the distant past, life was boiling here. For this reason our scientists are very interested in Afrasiyab.

The archaeological research on the settlement of Afrasiyab began at the end of the XVIIIth century. The archaeological research on Afrasiyab began at the end of the XVIII century, shortly after Central Asia was annexed by Russia, with excavations carried out by Borzenkov in 1874 and Krestovsky in 1883.

The first amateur excavations were not of serious scientific importance, but they brought valuable findings. Subsequent archaeological research conducted here has fully confirmed that Samarkand was one of the largest commercial and cultural centres in Central Asia long before our time.

In the settlement of Afrasiyab, beautiful finds of cast and waterless clay tableware, many terracotta statuettes, fragments of ossuaries, glassware, various tools, women’s jewellery, coins and so on were found.

Archaeological finds give an impressive account of life in ancient Samarkand during the many centuries of its existence. It is now proven that the settlement of the urban character in Afrasiyab existed two and a half thousand years ago.

The city was surrounded by mighty fortress walls, within which the citadel of Shakhristan, a jam mosque, dwellings and craft workshops were already located in that period. The territory of the city was crossed by direct stone streets and divided into quarters – Guzar.

The burial mound discovered during excavations in 1965 in the centre of Afrasiyab was of exceptional archaeological value. What was found here surpassed all the expectations of scientists.

Buildings made of raw bricks excavated in the depths of the mound, colourful murals, inscriptions in the Sogdian language, many household items, glassware – from miniature glasses to inkpots – revealed the rich original culture of the ancient city to archaeologists and historians.

In this way, the veil of the mystery of Afrasiyab was lifted. Several buildings from the VI to VII centuries were uncovered. Their walls are decorated with very artistic paintings, painted with glue colours on clay plaster.

In one of the rooms in which the archaeologist Warhotowa conducted excavations, strange genre paintings were found, which are on the walls on three floors. Ancient painters depicted in vivid colours a majestic procession of men and women carrying rich gifts and dressed in festive costumes. Real and fantastic animals take part in the procession.

These genre paintings, characterised by the vividness of the colours, bear witness to the high level of skill of their creators and provide rich material for the study of the cultural history of Central Asia before the Islamic conquest.

On the walls of the palace, which belonged to the ruler Samarkand Ishkhid, a talented artist wrote a great composition. A white elephant with a bell on its neck and in a collection of tassels moves before the procession.

The main figure on the elephant apparently represents a princess or queen. The elephant is followed by three women on horses. The image of one of the female figures is relatively well preserved.

She wears a short red dress, yellow trousers and black boots. Her hands are decorated with bracelets and a scarf is thrown over her shoulder. Behind the women, two men are depicted on camels.

The riders are armed with long straight swords and short daggers hanging from their belts. To their right they see a flock of birds resembling geese or swans. The birds are accompanied by bearded warriors in white clothing, who are led on their horses, and by a young man walking behind the horse.

Behind him on a yellow horse sits a rider dressed in a red caftan of richly decorated fabric. The artist portrays the rider in a disproportionate size compared to other figures.

In all probability the painting depicts a wedding procession. The elephant is brought to the palace to meet the groom of Princess Chaganyan. She is accompanied by her friends and honourable dignitaries.

The large figure of a rider on a large yellow horse seems to be the groom or King of Samarkand or one of his Sons.

There are Sogdian inscriptions on the faces, hands and, above all, on the clothing depicted in the paintings of the above-mentioned figures. A large hall decorated with wooden sculptures was also excavated.

They were charred in the fire that destroyed this building thirteen centuries ago. This contributed to the preservation and conservation of the sculptures. Landscape bas-reliefs were found in other rooms of the palace.

The combination of colours that have retained their brightness and juiciness is fascinating: shades of blue, white, yellow, red and brown. The combination of them does not give the impression of colourfulness. The tones of the wall paintings are harmoniously combined and caress the eye like a bouquet of bright spring flowers.

The subtlety of the drawing, the careful elaboration of all details, the expressive drawing of faces and figures are amazing. Everything points to the centuries-old traditions of art. Particularly striking is the strength and durability of the chemical composition of colours that have survived the test of time.

New brilliant art patterns of the old masters of Samarkand, which surpass everything known so far in their careful execution and colourfulness, have already taken their honourable place in the art history of the peoples of the East.

Places of interest

Samarkand - the Ak-Saray Mausoleum

Samarkand - the Ak-Saray Mausoleum

In Samarkand, on the opposite side beside the Mausoleum of Gur Emir is the Mausoleum of Ak-Saray, which is considered to be the burial place of the male representatives of the Temurid family in the second half of the XVth century. The half-destroyed building has kept a compositional core – the cruciform hall above an octagonal crypt.

The Mausoleum is famous for the monumental painting of the interior, which completely covered it. It is one of the best examples of the organic fusion of construction and architectural plasticity of the dome on the intersecting arches and the mesh-like sails.

The walls and ceilings of the ceiling were covered with gilded relief painting “kundal” with the stylised ornament on a blue background. The interior of the hall was surrounded by a mosaic panel with an elegant pattern of flower vases against a background of a diagonal lattice of blue and white tiles.

The slab of the crypt was covered with grey marble. The restoration work to restore the mausoleum is in progress. There is a legend about the mausoleum of Ak-Saray in Samarkand, which says that a decapitated man is buried in the niche that was built near the eastern wall. According to one of the versions it is the burial place of Ullugbek’s son Abdullatif, who was executed after his father’s fall.

Places of interest
Sher Dor Madrasa - Samarkand

Samarkand - the Medrese Sherdor

Samarkand - the Medrese Sherdor

The Medrese Sherdor was built on the site of the Ulugbek-Khanaka in Samarkand, which was created in 1424 in the eastern part of the square opposite the Ulugbek Medrese. At the beginning of the XVII century the Khanaka, together with other buildings of the square, was dilapidated and dilapidated. By order of the ruler of Samarkand Jalangtush Bahadur the construction of Sherdor and Tilla-Kari addresses was started. The Medrese Sherdor (Medrese “with tigers”, ” home of the lions”) was built by an architect named Abdul-Jabbar, the master decorator Muhammad Abbas.

The Sherdor Medrese in Samarkand almost mirrors the Ulugbek Medrese standing in front of it, albeit in reverse proportions. It is characterised by its oversized dome, which may have caused the gradual destruction of the building a few decades after its construction. The walls of the madrasah are covered with quotations from the Koran, the entrance portal shows the coat of arms of Samarkand – leopards with the sun on their backs, in the centre of the arch there is a swastika, and above it there is a special Arabic script on which is written ” The God is Almighty”. The outer and inner facades are decorated with glazed bricks, mosaics and paintings with rich gilding. The decoration of Medrese Sherdor is clearly inferior to the refinement of the Medrese Ulugbek built in the XVth century, which fell into the “golden age” of Samarkand architecture. Nevertheless, harmony of large and small forms, graceful mosaic pattern, monumentality, sharpness of symmetry – all this puts the Medrese in a row with the best architectural monuments of the city.

Places of interest
Ruhabad Mausoleum

Samarkand - the Ruhabad Mausoleum

Samarkand - the Ruhabad Mausoleum

North of Gur Emir Mausoleum there is a Mazar (mausoleum) built over the tomb of the mystic Burhaniddin Sagarji who died in the XIV century. The exact date of construction of this Mausoleum in Samarkand, known as Ruhabad (“dwelling place of the spirit”), has not been determined.

Due to the nature of the relief tile ornaments around the relocated north door, some researchers date this Mazar to the second half of the XIV century, while others consider it to be a Temur construction from the 1980s of the XIV century.

Monumental brick building with a dome with a central composition: a cube, octagon with windows on the main axes, spherical dome. The main façade is highlighted by arched entrances framed with tiles in carved terracotta.

In 1952, ring anchors were installed here to reinforce Ruhabad Mausoleum and the ceiling was repaired. The sons of Sheikh Abu Sa’id, Sheikh Isom al-Din and other members of the Sagarji family, especially the “Chinese princess” of Sheikh Sagarji’s wife, are buried there.

Abu Sa’id, Sheikh Isom al-Din was (according to the Arab traveller Ibn Batuta) the Central Asian sheikh (head) of the Muslims in Beijing. When he died, his son brought him to Samarkand and, according to his father’s will, he was buried near the tomb of the Sheikh of Samarkand Sheikh Basir.

According to a legend, under the dome of the mausoleum there is a hiding place with seven hairs of the Prophet Muhammad. Next to the Ruhabad Mausoleum in Samarkand there is a summer mosque, the decoration of which was influenced by East Turkestan or Chinese traditions.

Places of interest
Shohi Zinda - Samarkand

Samarkand - the Shahi Zinda Ensemble

Samarkand - the Shahi Zinda Ensemble

The Shahi Zinda Ensemble in Samarkand – a complete city that can compete in beauty with such world famous tombs as the Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal in India. It is a pilgrimage place of the world, where people are attracted by a special spirit, a magical power.

“The venerable and humble women and sisters of Amir Temur wanted to be buried on the threshold of this place, protected by the angels, – writes Abu Tahir Khoja, – and built such buildings here that the azure sky averted the eye of time – they did not see such beautiful and elegant buildings, so the turquoise dome of the sky opened their eyes – the moon and the sun – he did not admire such colour tiles.

A series of elegant, shining blue tomb vaults stretched along the ancient slopes of Afrasiab. Shahi-Zinda – one of the sanctuaries of the Muslim Orient – is a monumental complex of tombs, which was built in the X – XI centuries and today comprises forty-four tombs in more than twenty mausoleums.

The most important sanctuary on the top of the hill is the Mazar, attributed to Kusam, son of Abbas, cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, according to legends and sagas. The ritual of worshipping his tomb was introduced in the past.

There is a legend about him as the Shahi-Zinda, the “living king”. This appearance has been known in Central Asia for a long time and is associated with the image of Siyavush, the “suffering deity”. The roots of this story go back to an ancient cult of suffering and dying deities.

This image has been most popular among women since ancient times. Obviously it is thanks to the worship of “disappeared saints” that this famous necropolis became the women’s burial place for Amir Temur.

According to archaeological excavations, the area of the necropolis was a residential area of the ancient city until the XI century. The foundations and crypts of the first buildings of the ensemble date back to the XII century. century. In the XIII century, after the conquest by the Mongols, the inhabitants left the old fortress and Shahi-Zinda was in desolation for a long time.

At the beginning of the XIV century colourful buildings of mausoleums appeared one after another on the site of the dead city. At the time of Temur’s death, the buildings in Shah-i-Zinda were only within the walls of old Samarkand. Behind the back of the fortress wall, there was a large moat and a precipice.

In the course of time the detached walls were razed to the ground and the buildings of the lower group were erected at the foot of Afrasiab during the rule of Ulugbek. At first a detached mausoleum with two domes and a portal to the south appeared.

For the ascent to Afrasiab a wide staircase was built. The buildings of the lower group were completed between 1434 and 1435. The inscription on the entrance portal informs: “This majestic structure was founded in 838 AD (1434-1435 AD) by Abdulaziz-khan, son of Ulugbek Guragan, son of Shahrukh, son of Amir Temur Guragan.

Mazarishah is very popular among the population. Eyewitnesses reported that the dervishes of the cadmium order passed by here every Thursday of the 1920s. The Jahriya ritual, developed by the great Sufi Ahmad Yassavi (loud Radia), began in the upper mosque, then the participants, without stopping to say “ho” or “huh”, walked down the numerous steps of the stairs to the lower mosque in circular movements.

Before the end of the ceremony, the participants sang religious verses (hoviz). It was believed that the performance of Ziarat on the Mazars of St. Kusam had an amazing influence on the aesthetic mood of the “people of the heart” (mystics).

In 2005, Shahi Zinda Ensemble in Samarkand underwent extensive restoration, during which the fence of the mausoleum streets, which rose on the right side of the path, was removed to open the space where the mosque, early medieval (11th century) madrassas and traces of earlier mausoleums were found.

Places of interest
Tilla Kori - Samarkand

Samarkand - Tilla Kori Madrasah

Samarkand - Tilla Kori Madrasah

The Tilla Kori Madrasah was built in Samarkand, in the northern part of the square ten years after the Sherdor madrasah on the site of the 1420 caravanserai. The main façade of the square in relation to the building is symmetrical and consists of a central portal and two-storey front wings with arched niches and corner towers. The spacious courtyard is built around the perimeter with small living cells, hudjras. On the western side of the courtyard there is a mosque-domed building with two adjoining galleries on columns.

The Madrasah building is richly decorated with mosaics and majolica with geometric and plant ornaments. The interior decoration is richly gilded, which gave the Madrasah its name, meaning “decorated with gold”. In the gilded mihrab and minbar of the mosque, the surface of the walls and vaults with painted kundal is covered with rich gold.

Throughout its history, the Tilla Kori Madrasah has not only been a training centre for students in Samarkand, but also served as a Jome Mosque.

Places of interest

Samarkand - Ulugbek Observatory

Samarkand - Ulugbek Observatory

A suitable site for the construction of an observatory was selected in the north-east of Samarkand. Through the selection of famous astrologers a suitable lucky star was determined for Ulugbek Observatory in Samarkand.

The building was constructed as solidly as the foundation of power and the basis of greatness.

The presentation of the nine heavens and the image of the seven celestial circles with degrees, minutes, seconds and tenths of seconds, the celestial arc with the circles of the seven moving celestial bodies, the images of the moving stars, climatic zones, mountains, seas, deserts and everything connected with them were presented in the delightful drawings and depictions of the incomparable interior of the rooms of the elevated building.

This is what the historian Abd al-Razzaq wrote about this observatory in 1428-1429. The observatory was equipped with the best and most perfect instruments of the time.

It was a huge three-storey building, cylindrical in shape with a diameter of about 50 metres and a flat roof, which housed some astronomical instruments.

The plan of the building was quite complex: there were large halls, rooms, corridors, corridors connecting these rooms, etc. In the centre of the observatory was the main instrument – a magnificent marble sextant (possibly a quadrant) with a radius of 40.2 metres, mounted in the meridian plane.

Only the lower part of the instrument arch, divided into degrees, was preserved. The instrument is installed in a trench cut into the rock, about 2 metres wide and 11 metres deep. A part of it was lifted above the ground surface.

It consisted of two parallel stone arches lined with marble slabs of appropriate curvature. The Ulugbek Observatory determined the most important constant values in astronomy: ecliptic inclinations, equinoctial points, duration of the sidereal year and other values derived from observations of the Sun, the planets and the Moon.

Most probably Ulugbek made observations of stars with small armillary spheres, which have not been preserved. The huge size of the sextant, its successful construction and the unsurpassed skills of Samarkand astronomers ensured that the observations were highly accurate.

For example, the stellar year duration of Ulugbeg was determined in 365 days 6 hours 10 minutes 8 seconds. The actual value is 365 days 6 hours 9 minutes 6 seconds, i.e. Ulugbek was only mistaken by 62 seconds or 0.0002%!

The observatory’s most important work, the so-called New Astronomical Tables (Sidge and Jedi and Guragoni), contains a theoretical overview of astronomy and a catalogue of the positions of 1018 stars (published in Oxford in 1665).

Among Ulugbeg’s numerous observations, the table of geographical coordinates of 683 different settlements in the world is of great interest.

After the assassination of Ulugbek, the observatory, as the embodiment of his rule and enlightenment, was ruthlessly destroyed by religious fanatics. Already in the XVI century it was completely transformed into a heap of rubble. For a long time the exact location of the observatory remained unknown.

Only in 1908 Vyatkin managed to find its remains thanks to a document from the XVII century, which gave certain indications about the location of the observatory. During these excavations traces of a round wall in a brick and a part of the main tool were found.

No other astronomical instruments were found. In 1915 a vaulted ceiling was built over the excavated trench with part of the sextant to preserve the finds. The study of the observatory did not get a wide range until the Soviet period.

As a result of Sucharev’s excavations in 1941, and in particular the excavation of Shishkin in 1948, what was left of the once famous Arab observatory was opened to the public.

The poet Alisher Navoi wrote about Ulugbek
“All his conspecifics have been forgotten; who remembers them today?
But he, Ulugbeg, stretched out his hand to the sciences and achieved a lot”.

Next to the remains of the observatory there is a small museum with excerpts from the famous “Gurgan plates” – plates with information about the stars promoted by Ulugbek and his comrades-in-arms, engravings that testify to Ulugbek’s high authority among European scientists, a small collection of astronomical instruments where you can learn more about Ulugbek and the scientific methods he used.

Places of interest
Ulugbek Madrasa - Samarkand

Samarkand - Ulugh Beg Madrasa

Samarkand - Ulugh Beg Madrasa

The Ulugh Beg Madrasa is the oldest Madrasa on Registan Square in Samarkand and was built between 1417-1420 by the Temurid ruler and astronomer Ulugh Beg. The construction of this structure and later the observatory brought Samarkand fame as one of the most important scientific centres of the medieval Orient.

Ulugh Beg Madrasa was built in the western part of Registan Square, some years later Ulugh Beg Khanaka was built in front of it and the northern side was occupied by a caravanserai. The last two buildings existed for about two centuries and then at the beginning of the XVII century the Madrasa Sherdor and the Madrasa Tilla-Kari appeared in their place.

The rectangular Madrasa had four aywan and a square courtyard with deep niches around its perimeter leading to the rooms where the students lived. The back of the courtyard was occupied by a mosque and above the corner classrooms of the Madrasa there were four domes and four minarets at the corners of the building. The building faces the square with a majestic oriental portal with a high pointed arch, above which there is a mosaic panel with geometric ornamentation of coloured bricks, irrigation and carved ceramics.

The Ulugh Beg Madrasa in Samarkand was one of the best spiritual universities of the Muslim Orient in the XV century. According to the legend the famous poet, scientist and philosopher Abdurakhman Jami studied there. Lectures on mathematics, geometry, logic, natural sciences, teachings on man and world view and theology were given by famous scientists of that time: Kazizade ar-Rumi, Jemshid Giyas ad-Din al-Kashi, al-Kushchi and Ulugh Beg himself.

Places of interest
Ichan Qala - Khiva

Shakhimardon mausoleum in Khiva

Shakhimardon mausoleum in Khiva

The Shakhimardon mausoleum, built in the XVIIIth century, is located 500 metres west of Dishan-Kala, on the territory of the Pakhlovon Makhmud collective farm of Khiva district of Khorezm region. In the XVIII. Century a cemetery was built around the mausoleum. People associate this place with the name of Hazrat Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law. In fact, the first to be buried here were the brave warriors of Khoresm Shah. The Sсhaсhimardon Mausoleum is the central part of the memorial complex, which also includes a medrese (late 19th century) and a karikhona (1908). There are also Toz Mahram and Shahsufar Mahram Medrese and a mausoleum where members of the Toz Mahram family are buried.

The Shakhimardon mausoleum in Khiva was closed during the Soviet period as part of the authorities’ anti-Islamic policy. However, it continued to be visited by worshippers. On 27 March 1945, by Decree No. 410, the Council of People’s Commissars of the Uzbek SSR transferred from the Directorate of Architecture under the Council of People’s Commissars of the Uzbek SSR to the Spiritual Council of Muslims of Central Asia and Kazakhstan (SADUM) seven most frequently visited mazars, including Shakhimardon. Shakhimardon was officially used by Muslim clergy for a short period of time. During this time, a hotel and water resort were built at the Shaсhimardon Mausoleum of SADUM. Decree No. 9363-rs of the USSR Council of Ministers of 18 June 1950 allowed the Uzbek authorities to withdraw Shaсhimardon from SADUM. However, Shakhimardon remained closed only on paper. The director of one of the Soviet schools and the secretary of one of the VKP(b) organisations became the sheikh of the formally closed Shakhimardon mausoleum.

Places of interest

Shakhimardon Minaret in Khiva

Shakhimardon Minaret in Khiva

The minarets of Khiva have a unique and very important place in architecture. They create a clear system of spatial reference points in the perception of the city and mark the sites of large mosques, madrasas and complexes. It is hardly possible to consider their direct purpose – to provide a raised platform for the proclamation of the azan, the call to prayer – as the reason for their multiplicity. It is also doubtful that the tile-adorned minarets in Khiva were primarily intended to fulfil the function of a watchtower. The minaret symbolised the power and dignity of its builder – it marked the location of the main building from which it was created, as a vertical line visible from a distance. The Shakhimardon Minaret was transformed into a mausoleum in 1512-1535, built in honour of Elbarshahan in Khiva in the mid-18th century. The Shakhimardon Minaret is located in the settlement of Pakhlavan Makhmud in Khiva district of Khorezm region. According to the elders, Iranians who were killed during the capture of Khiva by Nodirshok in 1740 were buried in this cemetery. At that time, the minaret was restored. This minaret is one of the smallest minarets in Khiva, with a height of 5 metres and a diameter of 1.5 metres.

Places of interest

Shakhrisabz - Ak Saray Palace

Shakhrisabz - Ak Saray Palace

Today, Shakhrisabz has outgrown its medieval boundaries, but it is still immersed in the emerald green of the gardens and above them, as if emerging from the depths of the sea, rise the majestic creations of the XIV-XV century architects, including Ak-Saray Palace.

It is well known that a country, city or village gains popularity and general recognition through a historical landmark, event or other feature that becomes its unique calling card.

Shakhrisabz is particularly associated with the Ak-Saray Palace. There are many amazing legends associated with the history of the palace direction. One of them tells that Temur, having conceived the plan to erect a majestic building, called the architect to him and set his goal.

After listening to the ruler, the architect asked for permission to enter the treasury. After receiving permission, the master began to make blocks for the foundation from clay mixed with gold in front of Temur.

Seeing the governor’s steadfastness, he broke the blocks and returned the gold to the treasury. When Temur asked, “Why did you do that?” – The architect replied, “To ensure the ruler’s determination to proceed with the construction of a building that requires enormous expenditure.”

The second legend says: after the completion of the main construction work, Temur began to hurry the masters to execute the decorative furnishings of the palace. However, the latter did not hurry to cover the building with majolica and mosaics.

When the furious ruler ordered the chief builder to be brought in, it turned out that he had disappeared and a chain was hanging in the middle of the main arch of the palace. As no master equal to him could be found, the building remained unfinished.

Some time later, the architect suddenly reappeared and, after ensuring that the chain at the entrance arch was lowered considerably, set about decorating the palace. At Temur’s stern request to explain his strange flight and sudden reappearance, the architect said, “I dared not disobey the Lord’s command, but neither could I, and in any case a severe punishment awaited me, for such a magnificent building must settle and stand firm in the ground, or all the ornamentation would be destroyed”.

The great ruler appreciated the wisdom and genius of the master. “If you doubt our power, look at our buildings”. This inscription adorns the portal of the majestic Ak-Saray Palace, built by the great military leader Amir Temur in the XIV century.

Unfortunately, only part of the palace’s entrance portal has reached our days, but even the remains of this portal help to imagine the unprecedented beauty and grandeur of this building. Temur built it on a bare field after bringing 50 thousand captive builders and master craftsmen here from all over his empire: from Khorezm, Iran, Iraq and northern India.

There is a legend that golden sand was added when preparing the first bricks for the royal construction!

According to the ruler’s plan, the building was to be unsurpassed in its magnificence. The scale of the construction was truly royal. The great ruler spared no expense. He desperately wanted his structure to be the biggest and best in the entire world.

Researchers reconstructed the layout and design of the palace from the descriptions of contemporaries and from the material of archaeological investigations. Although Ak-Saray translates from Uzbek as “White Palace”, the name of the palace means “noble, aristocratic”.

Amazing, especially the size of the building. Only the front courtyard, the plan of which was restored, occupied 250 metres in length and 125 metres in width. And the height of the main portal, crowned with arched battlements, reached 70 metres. That is the size of a twenty-storey house.

The corner towers were at least 80 metres high and the entrance arch had a span of more than 22 metres. In August 1404, the ambassador of the Castilian king Gonzalez de Clavijo visited the Ak-Saray Palace in Shakhrisabz. He described the palace as follows: “The palace has a very long entrance and very high gates, and here at the entrance there were brick arches on the right and left, covered with tiles in different patterns.

And under these arches were like small rooms without doors, that is, hollow spaces with a floor covered with tiles, and this was done so that people could sit there when the ruler was in the palace.

Immediately behind this gate was another gate, and behind it a large courtyard paved with white slabs and surrounded with richly decorated galleries, and in the middle of the courtyard a large pond, and this courtyard was about three hundred paces wide; and through it they entered the largest room of the palace, through which there was a very large and high door, decorated with gold, azure and tiles, all very elaborately done.

And above the door, in the middle, was an image of a lion facing the sun, and exactly the same images around the edges. They were the emblem of the ruler of Samarqand”.

The palace was used for recreation and entertainment, but also for the administration of state affairs. In the axis of the courtyard was a domed room for meetings of the divan, the council of state. It had small halls on two sides for meetings of the councillors – tavajibeks and divanbeks.

Under the palace buildings was a harem, richly decorated and lavishly furnished. In front was a shady garden with ponds lined with patterned tiles. The real wonder for those years was a hauz arranged on the roof, from which flowed a picturesque cascade of streams.

The water flowed into the house from the Takhtakaracha mountain pass through a lead gutter. The arch of the Ak-Saray entrance portal, which collapsed about 200 years ago, was the largest in Central Asia. The span of the portal was 22.5 m. Two unconnected pylons remain of this majestic structure.

The height of these pylons reaches 38 metres even in its present dilapidated state. Much work is underway to restore and strengthen the pylons of the palace portal. The mosaic of filigree works, composed in a complex colour palette, amazes with bright, intricate ornaments and paintings.

The preserved portion of the pylons and monumental arch is astonishingly large, 18 storeys high and about 20 metres wide. The Ak-Saray Palace is the largest complex of civic architecture not only in Shakhrisabz and Central Asia.

Historical tradition attributes the destruction of the majestic building to the Emir of Bukhara, Abdullakhan II, who, during another siege of the recalcitrant Shakhrisabz, allegedly ordered the magnificent buildings of Temur and his descendants to be destroyed.

He wanted to erase the memory of his illustrious predecessor, but try as he might, he could not completely destroy the palace. By the end of the nineteenth century, only the pylons and part of the arch of the main portal remained of the once magnificent royal palace.

The construction of Ak-Saray Palace embodied Sahibkiran’s idea of turning Shakhrisabz into a second national capital, and the creation of the Dorus-Saodat and Dorut-Tilovat memorial complexes reflected his ambition to make his hometown the spiritual centre of Mawara’unnahr.

In the years of Uzbekistan’s independence, restoration work was carried out on the preserved parts of the palace. Together with other monuments of Kesh from the Temurid period, the palace is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Places of interest

Shakhrisabz - Chorsu bazaar

Shakhrisabz - Chorsu bazaar

In such a commercial and handicraft centre as Shakhrisabz, many commercial buildings were built, but only one of them, the covered bazaar Chorsu, built in 1602, has survived to this day.

The term “Chorsu” means “four streams”; it was used to refer to a bazaar building constructed at the intersection of the main market streets. It is located in the centre of the city at the intersection of the old road that began at the southern gate of the city – Charimgar, which was called the Gate of Termez under Temur – and the road that crossed Shakhrisabz from east to west.

There was a bazaar and a bathhouse that still functions today. A more suitable place for the construction of the market hall could not be found. With its external resemblance to the medieval trading domes of Bukhara and Samarkand, the covered bazaar Chorsu in Shakhrisabz differs in its original appearance.

The bazaar is a central building with a diameter of 21 metres. Four portals with entrance arch openings aligned with the cardinal directions lead inside to the central hall.

It is a fairly extensive square area with sloping corners. From it, corridors lead to eight small corner halls. The central hall is covered with a spherical dome on arched sails and the small corner rooms have small domes.

The builders did not decorate the covered bazaar with mosaics or majolica. However, the excellent brickwork of the shield-shaped herringbone sails has an aesthetic purpose as well as a functional one.

Each of Chorsu’s shophouses served to sell a particular type of goods – pottery, hand embroidery for which the artisans of Kashkadarya are still famous, imported and local fabrics, carpets and other products.

Places of interest
Complex Chubin in Shakhrisabz

Shakhrisabz - Complex Chubin

Shakhrisabz - Complex Chubin

The Chubin architectural Complex is located in the north-east of the city of Shakhrisabz, in the mahalla of the same name. There is no historical or literary data about the construction of the complex. The name “Chubin” most likely refers to the former home of a community of woodworkers.

The monument is a complex consisting of functionally interdependent limbs – mosque, hujra forming an inner courtyard, and darwosachona. The building plan of the main mosque complex is elaborated on two simultaneous axes.

The compositional centre of the building is the square hall, which is covered with a dome. On the west-east axis is a deep semi-octahedral niche that serves as the mekhrab and focal point of the interior.

On the same axis, to the east of the entrance to the mosque, is a semi-octahedral portal niche. On the north-south axis are two domed halls connected to the main hall by low-level openings and portal entrances overlooking the exterior facades.

The halls are flanked by symmetrical vaulted rooms that also face the exterior facades and have arched niches. The corner rooms are filled with vaulted enfilades of two rooms each. The outer facades of these rooms also have arched niches.

In the western enfilades there are additional passages from the main hall in the form of corridors. Thus, the floor plan conception of the building preserved conventional features adopted from the composite solution of similar monuments of the XIV – XV centuries.

The facades of the building have a conventional symmetry. The axis of symmetry of the three facades, north, east and south, is emphasised by portals. The levels of the pylons are transformed into small niches by the pilasters.

Arches with a four-centred ground plan are arranged in the niches. The ground plan of the monument can be described as central, with emphasis on the main façade facing the courtyard. The structural-spatial composition of Complex Chubin functionally relates to the architectural type of Khonaqo and plays a special role in the urban structure of Shakhrisabz, with a place in the system of architectural focal points of the historical city.

Places of interest

Shakhrisabz - Complex Dorus Saodat

Shakhrisabz - Complex Dorus Saodat

In 1380, at the same time as the construction of the Ak-Saray Palace, the construction of another monumental complex, known as Dorus-Saodat, began in Shakhrisabz. Of the Dorus-Saodat ensemble, the Jahongir Mausoleum and the tomb of Amir Temur, where he was never buried, remain to this day. The reason for the construction of the memorial complex was a sad event – in 1376, Temur’s eldest son, Jahongir, whom the ruler loved dearly and was preparing as his heir, died unexpectedly in his twenty-second year. The people of Samarkand mourned the unexpected death of the heir to the throne, “the handsome prince, the valiant soldier, flashed on the earth like a rose”. The prince himself fell into a deep depression.

The body of Jahongir, who died in Samarkand, was transported to the ancestral home in Shakhrisabz, where it was buried in a hereditary cemetery in the area of ancient Shakhrisabz Shahristan. Amir Temur probably thought of building the mausoleum here for himself and his descendants at that time. However, it was not until four years later, after the conclusion of the campaign to Khoresm, that construction of the burial complex began. A mausoleum was built over the prince’s tomb and a medrese was attached to it, which became the philosophical and spiritual core of the entire complex. Some researchers have interpreted the name of the complex as “lessons in power” in Arabic. According to the Arab historian Malikho, the madrasa did not survive. It was destroyed in the 17th century on the orders of Abdullakhan.

Archaeological excavations on the site of the Dorus-Saodat complex in Shakhrisabz revealed that Ziyaratkhona – a memorial hall – adjoined Jahongir’s mausoleum from the east. South of the mausoleum, the portal niche of the madrasa was found with a span between the abutments of more than 20 metres. From the portal, a corridor led into the courtyard of the medrese with the remains of the walls of the hujshras. Facing the courtyard were deep aiwans fitted with sufas. The stone slabs that paved niches of aiwans and a portal have been preserved. The Dorus-Saodat madrasa was originally intended not for education but for cultic-memorial functions. The plots of land, manors and flourishing gardens were allocated to the waqf of the madrasa, whose revenues were used to maintain the dynasty’s tomb. According to Ruy González de Clavijo, the medrese and mausoleum of Jahongir were richly decorated with gold, azure and tiles. The garden with water basins was also laid out here. In 1394, during the siege of a Kurdish fortress in Iran, the second son of Amir Temur, the twenty-nine-year-old Umarshikh, was killed. His body was also taken to Shakhrisabz and buried in Dorus-Saodat. Every day, on Temur’s orders, twenty boiled mutton were brought to the madrasa to commemorate the souls of his sons who were buried there.

Amir Temur ordered a tomb to be built for himself, but it remained unfinished. In 1404, he visited it and remained dissatisfied, saying that the entrance in it was low and ordered it to be changed. The mausoleum intended for Amir Temur was not preserved, but through historical documents and as a result of archaeological research in the area of the Dorus Saodat complex, the tomb of Amir Temur was found. It is one of the most remarkable, majestic and magnificent buildings of Amir Temur’s era. According to descriptions by contemporaries, the glittering luxury of the above-ground premises of the Ziyaratkhona contrasted with the asceticism of the underground crypt. After descending the steep stairs from the south side of the tomb, one finds oneself in a small room of less than 40 square metres. The walls, floors, dome and arches supporting it are made of light grey marble limestone blocks. In the centre is a marble sarcophagus set into the floor, covered with a huge monolithic marble slab 11 centimetres thick with five iron rings at the corners and in the centre. On the walls in vaults and medallions are the suras from the Qur’an and inscriptions in Sülüs’ handwriting that read, “The dominion belongs to Allah. Only Allah is eternal”, “Good is in Allah’s hand and He is mighty in all things”. Fate decided at its own discretion and the burial place of Sahibkiran became Gur-Emir in Samarkand.

The Dorus-Saodat complex is one of the most romantic and mysterious architectural ensembles in Shakhrisabz.

Places of interest

Shakhrisabz - Crypt of Amir Temur

Shakhrisabz - Crypt of Amir Temur

Behind the Dorus Saodat complex in Shakhrisabz is a Crypt of Amir Temur, which experts believe the great army leader prepared for himself. The monument is a unique architectural construction. There is no comparable type of crypt in the entire Near and Middle East.

The crypt was found by archaeologists in the middle of the XX century. This underground structure has a cruciform floor plan and is covered in marble with carved inscriptions. The excavated foundations show that there was a mausoleum with a funeral mosque above the crypt.

On the walls and arches of the crypt are inscriptions that say, “Sovereignty belongs to Allah. Only Allah is eternal”, “Good is in the hands of Allah and he is powerful in all things”. The first acquaintance with the text of the inscriptions was made by Y. Later, in 1942, the monument became the subject of research by M.E. Masson and G.A. Pugachenkova. According to them, the crypt is intended for a single burial, which affects its austere solidity and extraordinary size.

In the centre of the vault is a marble sarcophagus covered with a thick monolithic slab more than 10 cm thick. At the corners and in the centre of the slab are steel rings designed for its installation. Inscriptions have been engraved on the slab, consisting of messages to Temur and referring to his life.

Amir Temur’s life was interrupted in 1405 during his campaign to China. Amir Temur was never buried in Shakhrisabz in the Crypt intended for him, but was buried in Samarkand in the mausoleum of Gur-Emir.

Places of interest

Shakhrisabz - Dorut Tilovat Ensemble

Shakhrisabz - Dorut Tilovat Ensemble

The Dorut-Tilovat ensemble in Shakhrisabz consists of three surviving structures on the former necropolis of the nobility of Barlas: two mausoleums of Hazrati Sheikh (Shamsiddin Kulol) and Gumbazi Sayidon and the Kok Gumbaz Jome Mosque.

They are all the remains of a former ensemble of buildings that were once united in the Madrasah Dorut-Tilovat (House of Reflection). The oldest structure is the mausoleum of Shamsiddin Kulol, the spiritual advisor of Amir Temur and his father Amir Taraghai.

Shamsiddin Kulol (or Amiri Kalon – “Great Emir”) is known in the Muslim world as the teacher of Sheikh Bahauddin Naqshbandi of Bukhara, whom he taught the “Secret Zikr” by teaching: “Good deeds are found only in an assembly of people and a society of people consists in mutual fellowship based on the condition of not doing to each other what is forbidden. And if the society of people walking on our path to God has such unity, that is their welfare and happiness.”

The Sheikh died in 1370 and his tomb was surrounded by great reverence and cult. The Dorut-Tilovat (“Place of Recitation of the Holy Quran” or “House of Reflection”) memorial complex was established in 1370 – 1371 after the death of Shamsiddin Kulol, the eminent religious figure, the founder of Sufism, the spiritual advisor of Emir Taraghai and Amir Temur himself, and the teacher of Bahauddin Naqshbandi.

His tomb immediately became a place of veneration for his many followers. Next to Sheikh Kulol’s grave stood the building of the Dorut Tilovat Madrasah. The mortal remains of Amir Taraghai were placed in one of the rooms of the Madrasah.

During the reign of Amir Temur, the tomb of Shamsiddin Kulol was covered with marble slabs. Later, during the reign of Ulugbek, a mausoleum with a dome was built over the tomb of Shamsiddin Kulol and on the remains of the earlier and more modest building.

Opposite the mausoleum, the mosque Kok-Gumbaz (the Blue Dome) was built in 1435. The inscription on a portal says that the mosque was built by Ulugbek on behalf of his father Shahruch.

It is also known as the Friday Jome Mosque of Shakhrisabz. The Dorut-Tilovat Ensemble is located south of the ruins of Ak-Saray on the north-south axis, near the Charsu Monument and the City Market of Shakhrisabz.

Compared to other parts of the city, it is relatively high. East of this complex at a distance of 200 metres is another complex – Dorus Saodat.

As part of these complexes, these cult buildings of Amir Temur and Temurid eras once formed a single necropolis of the city of Shakhrisabz. Amir Temur ordered that to perpetuate the memory of his father Amir Taraghai (died in the winter of 1360) and his spiritual advisor, Sheikh Amir Shamsiddin Kulol al-Fachuri, and his eldest son Mirza Ghiyasiddin Jahongir (died 1376), a separate mausoleum each be built in the south of Ak-Saray.

A group of mausoleums connected to other structures are known as memorial-architecture complexes – Darus-Saodat and Dorut-Tilovat. Most notably, Amir Temur’s crypt in the Darus-Saodat complex, built specifically for his own burial, is considered the most unique tomb of its kind in the East.

The two complexes were once a single necropolis, including a cemetery around and between them. These complexes are now widely known among the population and are places of ziyarat associated with the cult of the saints.

The medieval necropolis in Shakhrisabz occupies an area of 1 to 2 hectares. As a cemetery, it has not been in use for a long time. It is possible that the cemetery was moved to another part of the city because of the redevelopment of the city in the early days of Soviet power.

The area of the former cemetery is partly used by the population, the space between the two complexes is landscaped and planted with trees.

Places of interest

Shakhrisabz - Fortification wall

Shakhrisabz - Fortification wall

Shakhrisabz is the birthplace of Amir Timur (Tamerlane in 1336-1405). In the 14th century, Shakhrisabz was surrounded by a new fortification wall on his orders and became not only a city of trade and crafts, but also of science and culture. The Spanish envoy travelling to Samarkand to the court of Tamerlane stopped in ancient Kesh. The envoy Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo wrote about ancient Shakhrisabz: “…The city was surrounded by an earthen wall and a deep moat, there were drawbridges at the entrances. During the Temurid period, the city became one of the cultural centres of the East. Great scholars and poets like Navoi and Jami visited it. Tamerlane considered making Shakhrisabz the capital of his empire, but chose Samarkand.

The preserved parts of fortification wall of Shakhrisabz show that they were powerful fortifications, similar to the walls of Ichan-Kala in Khiva and Ark in Bukhara. They were also built of mud and clay bricks. The city walls were 8 to 9 metres thick at the base and 11 metres high. After about 50 metres, they were flanked by semicircular towers. A deep moat ran around the walls. On each of the four sides were city gates with the lift bridge. The walls of the city withstood many sieges and remained until the XVIII-XIX centuries, when the Beks of Shakhrisabz defended their independence in the wars with the emirs of Bukhara.

Places of interest

Shakhrisabz - Kok Gumbaz Mosque

Shakhrisabz - Kok Gumbaz Mosque

The Kok Gumbaz Mosque was built in 1435 at the behest of Ulugbek’s father Shahrukh in Shakhrisabz. This former Jome mosque was built on the foundations of a pre-Mongol mosque with a similar layout.

Summer galleries once adjoined the Kok-Gumbaz mosque, of which the bases of the square pylons supporting the arches remain, with numerous domes thrown between them.

Between the Dorus-Saodat and Dorut-Tilovat ensembles was another religious monument – a necropolis of the local nobility and clergy. Among the majestic palaces and memorial complexes of Shakhrisabz, the blue dome – Kok Gumbaz – rises directly from the green gardens.

Due to its location and size, it is visible from almost every part of the city. This makes Kok Gumbaz an irreplaceable element of the city panorama. Kok Gumbaz means “Blue Dome”.

The mosque was built in 1435 on the remains of an earlier building located in the Dorut-Tilovat architectural complex, with its front facing the mausoleum of Shamsiddin Kulol.

In fact, Kok Gumbaz Mosque is the largest Friday mosque in Shakhrisabz and all the important services were held here. The initiator of the construction of this mosque was Mirzo Ulugbek – world famous scientist-astronomer, public figure and grandson of the great Amir Temur.

On the portal of the main entrance of the mosque is an inscription stating that Ulugbek built Kok-Gumbaz on behalf of his father – Shakhrukh. The Kok-Gumbaz mosque was built on the foundations of the pre-Mongol building and the architects followed the layout of the old building during construction.

Summer galleries once adjoined the mosque, of which the bases of square pylons are preserved, supporting arches that were covered with numerous domes.

The mighty pylons of its eastern portal were decorated with ornaments and the tympanum had a mosaic star-girikh so typical of Ulugbek’s era. On the portal there is an inscription in Arabic: “This Jome Mosque is the most beautiful mosque in a high place; it has a large dome. This dome in Shakhrisabz looks like the blue sky above the green city”.

The pylons of the main portal have spiral staircases leading to the roof. The Guldasta tower, which resembles a small minaret, adjoins the pylons. The lower part is covered with marble, the upper part is crowned with the majolica capital.

On the north and south façades are the open corridors leading to the interior of the mosque.When planning the building, the architects tried to make its height as high as possible so that its axis was at the same level as the Kulol Mausoleum.

This made it possible to achieve perfect symmetry between the structures, giving the whole complex a very harmonious and studied style. To achieve this, the masters even had to violate Islamic law by changing the direction of the mosque towards the holy Mecca.

The spherical blue dome is covered with sky-blue ceramic tiles, symbolising the cloudless sky above the ruler’s vast domain.

From a distance, merging with the sky, it resembles a balloon, creating the illusion of lightness and flight. Below, around the base of the dome, is a light-coloured strip inscribed with extracts from various suras of the Qur’an.

The beautiful calligraphic script, so characteristic of the Timurid period, contains many wise and famous sayings. The most beautiful and important is this: “Power and wealth belong to Allah. Only Allah possesses dominion”.

Upon entering the building, we see that the interior is square. Immediately the scale and dimensions of the dome are felt differently. Loaded and majestic, it towers high above our heads.

The diameter of the dome is 46 metres. Here the sounds of voices and actions come alive and merge into a bizarre and at the same time threatening echo. At the corners of the massive walls are four spiral staircases that lead to the upper level, to the rooms and to the roof.

The surface of the walls inside the mosque is covered with white ganch (mixture of plaster and clay). In some places there are finely painted ornaments and patterns done in shades of blue and blues.

Near the walls are the niches that face the sides of the world. The interior of the Kok Gumbaz Mosque is almost square in plan and has four deep niches oriented on the sides of the world.

The mihrab is located in the western niche, which is filled with ganch stalactites. The entire surface of the walls of the mosque has been plastered with white ganch and painted with the finest blue-blue ornaments.

For several centuries Kok-Gumbaz Mosque was the main Jome Mosque of Shakhrisabz, and to the east of it was a mazar during the reign of Ulugbek, where the tombs of the nobility and clergy of the Barlas family, to which the Timurids belonged, are preserved.

The marble tombstones bear the names of commanders who took part in the campaigns of Shahrukh and Ulugbek.

Places of interest
Malik Ashtar Mosque in Shakhrisabz

Shakhrisabz - Malik Ashtar Mosque

Shakhrisabz - Malik Ashtar Mosque

In the north-eastern part of the historical centre of Shakhrisabz, the historical mosque Malik-Ashtar is located between residential houses. According to legend, it was built next to the tomb of the Arab warlord Malik-Ashtar.

Like the Khanaka of Khodjaa Mirhamid in Shakhrisabz, the complex of the Malik-Ashtar Mosque also served as a madrasa in the past. This is evidenced by the hujras located along the perimeter and covered by domes.

The Malik Ashtar Mosque has a classical composition of Islamic cult building. It symbolically embodies the main elements of the universe: a prayer house made of mud, green trees, water ‘hausa’, a dome facing the sky, aiwan pillars and minaret.

The small town of Shakhrisabz (‘green city’, Pers.) is located only 90 km south of Samarkand, at the foot of the Hissar and Zeravshan mountains, at the confluence of the Aksu and Tanhoz rivers. It is one of the oldest cities in the world; according to some sources, there were human settlements at this site as early as 1700 BC. Alexander the Great’s troops marched here, the Bactrian satrap Bess was captured, an anti-Arab movement arose and caravans of the Great Silk Road passed by. Ancient Kesh, the birthplace of Amir Temur and the former “home residence” of the Temurids, was once probably larger and richer than Samarkand itself.

In Shakhrisabz, much is being done to restore and reconstruct monuments of material culture. An independent scientific-restoration production workshop has been established there, employing architects, designers, master builders, skilled wood and plaster carvers and other masters of the applied arts. The concern of this numerous creative team is to restore the original appearance of the medieval monuments and to preserve the creations of the old masters for centuries to come.

Places of interest
Mausoleum Gumbazi Sayidon in Shahrisabz

Shakhrisabz - Mausoleum Gumbazi Sayidon

Shakhrisabz - Mausoleum Gumbazi Sayidon

On the south side of the Shamsiddin Kulol Mausoleum in Shakhrisabz is another mausoleum, possibly by Ulughbek’s descendants, called Gumbazi Sayidon. To the south of the Shamsiddin Kulol mausoleum, another domed mausoleum was built by Mirzo Ulughbek.

It was intended for the deceased members of the Temurid dynasty and was called the Maqbara of Ulughbek. The small structure charms with its graceful proportions and the beautifully executed entrance door, which is covered with a deep trihedral carving with floral and epigraphic ornaments.

The entire architectural ensemble of the Dorut-Tilovat Madrasah can be attributed to the Ulughbek era. Two years after the construction of the Kok Gumbaz Mosque in Shakhrisabz, a tomb known as the Gumbazi Sayidon Mausoleum – “Sayid Dome” – was built on the southern wall of the Shamsiddin Kulol Mausoleum on Ulughbek’s orders.

This completed the Dorut Tilovat ensemble. The small one-chamber mausoleum of exquisite proportions is adorned with a blue dome on a high drum on which Kufi inscriptions are carved in mosaic.

The almost square building was built in the typical style of the Ulugbeg period. The entrance from the west is decorated with a small, slightly projecting portal and a wooden door covered with a deep trihedral carving of a vegetative ornament bearing epigraphic inscriptions.

The lower part of the main hall of the mausoleum is decorated with a panel of blue hexagonal plates. The plafond and sails of the dome, the arched niches and all the walls of the Gumbazi Sayidon are covered with the most amazing fine paintings in red and blue.

The belt under the dome is filled with geometric ornaments forming a star motif. The dome itself is decorated with the complex polyhedral girikh. The ornaments between the arches are painted with a floral pattern and the surfaces of the walls are decorated with spirals.

Places of interest
Shamsiddin Kulol Mausoleum in Shakhrisabz

Shakhrisabz - Mausoleum Shamsiddin Kulol

Shakhrisabz - Mausoleum Shamsiddin Kulol

The mausoleum of Shamsiddin Kulol was built in the XIV-XV centuries in Shakhrisabz in the form of a straight quadrilateral (12.1 x 10.6 m); the dome has not been preserved and the mausoleum was later covered with a flat roof.

Emir Shamsiddin Kulol, who lived for about 90 years and died in 1370, played the most important intellectual role in the formation and development of the future outstanding conqueror and ruler Amir Temur. He was a potter by profession, a theologian, philosopher and scholar by vocation. According to historical records, Shamsiddin Kulol led a modest life and helped many people with advice and deeds. He was highly respected and honoured in the Temurid state.

After the death of Sheikh Shamsiddin Kulol, Amir Temur ordered his spiritual master to build a marble monument and a tomb for his relatives and comrades-in-arms. The tomb of the enlightened philosopher, as a sacred place, was immediately revered by many people and his disciples.

Later, Mirzo Ulughbek (the grandson of Amir Temur), an eminent ruler and public figure, built a domed mausoleum of Shamsiddin Kulol on the site of his tomb and former structure. The interior of the mausoleum is amazingly decorated. Various geometric and vegetative paintings were executed on glazed tiles and majolica. The wood-carved doors are like the gates to paradise. They were carved by the most skilful masters. The building was constructed of fired bricks in a square shape (26 x 26.5 x 5 cm).

Sheikh Shamsiddin Kulol al-Keshi, the spiritual master of Amir Temur, was buried here. According to the sources, the ruler’s father, Muhammad Taraghay, was buried at the feet of Sheikh Shamsiddin Kulol in the same mausoleum in Shakhrisabz.

The walls have been plastered several times, so that they have partially lost their original appearance. Under the plaster are remains of the mosaic that decorated the azure vault. Inside the mausoleum is a square marble tomb decorated with a charming carved ornament.

It is believed that Sheikh Shamsiddin Kulol inspired Amir Temur with the idea of his high destiny as ruler of the world. The domed mausoleum over the Sheikh’s tomb was built in the early 1370s and was originally open on all four sides.

The entrance to the mosque was closed off with a portal. In the 20th century, only the walls and part of the carved marble tombstone remained.

Places of interest

Shakhrisabz - the Bathhouse

Shakhrisabz - the Bathhouse

The bathhouse in Shakhrisabz is considered the oldest, older than the bathhouses of Bukhara and Samarkand. The interesting thing is that this bathhouse in Shakhrisabz is still in use, although it was built in the middle of the 15th century.  The construction of the bath is rectangular and starts at the top with a cloakroom for outer garments. Then, along the bath, with a total area of 22.5 x 15 metres, there are 4 rooms and the central room continues not only to the front but also along its 2 sides – two rooms to the front and one to the left, another to the right. All the rooms except the first are bathing rooms, only this first room is visible from the ground, the others are only visible with their domes, in fact they are dug into the ground to save heat and warmth. In the central, largest bathing hall, people took cold, warm or hot water from containers in front of the windows into copper basins and then changed to different rooms, some of them preferring hotter, others – cooler rooms. There they washed, rinsed, massaged each other or had themselves pampered by bath attendants. Water was supplied to the tanks by a crane that drew water from the well.

The walls and vaults of the baths were thickly covered with lime mortar, which had water-repellent properties, and consisted of fired square bricks. The floor was laid with marble and underneath was a dense network of heating ducts made of the same brick, up to half a metre diagonally.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Amir Temur Square

Tashkent - Amir Temur Square

Amir Temur Square is a square with a small park in the central part of Tashkent in Uzbekistan. The history of the square began in the 2nd half of the ⅩⅨ century, when the Turkestan region, later called the Turkestan General Government, was incorporated into the Russian Empire. Tashkent became the residence of the Russian governors-general. In 60-80-ies ⅩⅨ century a park was laid out in the city centre, around which female and male gymnasiums, a state bank and a teachers’ seminary were built. The building of the girls’ grammar school now houses the Tashkent Institute of Law. The complex of historical buildings around the square has been carefully preserved. The church of St. Alexander Nevsky at the teachers’ seminary, built in 1898 by the architect A. Benua, has not been preserved.

After the death of the Governor General Konstantin Kaufman, his grave was located in the park and the square was called Konstantinovsky for a long time. In 1913, with the help of donations, a multi-figure monument with a double-headed eagle and the inscription: “For Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman and his troops who conquered Central Asia” was erected in the centre of the park. The monument was destroyed after the 1917 revolution and the plinth had a rich history. In the Soviet period there were many monuments: the banner and cannons, the hammer and sickle, the column with the Arabic script, Lenin, Stalin, a stele with the programme of the CPSU, Karl Marx. And the park, which for a short time was a public garden named after Maria Spiridonova, was called the Public Garden of the Revolution. The park was used for rallies in different years: the Communist Party in the 20-30-ies, and from the 60-ies – gatherings of Crimean Tatars who demanded to return to Crimea after the deportation. From the 60- ⅩⅩ century a restaurant and an ice cream parlour opened here, the “golden youth” began to gather. The square became a popular place for meetings and recreation.

The name Temur was given to the square a year after Uzbekistan’s declaration of independence in 1994, and since then it has been adorned by an equestrian statue of the great conqueror Amir Temur, created by the sculptor Ilhom Jabbarov. Amir Temur is a symbol to consolidate the Uzbek people based on the memory of the great deeds of their predecessors. The conqueror and general who created a powerful empire in the XIV century, subjugated the states of Central and Asia Minor, Caucasus, India, Turkey, appears seated on a horse in imperial dress. The motto of the famous Temur – “Strength in Justice” – is written on the pedestal in four languages.

Over the years, many attractions have sprung up around the square, forming the modern face of Tashkent: the Hotel Uzbekistan, the Museum of Timurid History, the famous Tashkent Carillon and the grandiose Palace of Forums, crowned with a 48-metre-high dome. Next to the park is Arbat Tashkent – a pedestrian street Sailgoh, where street artists draw portraits of passers-by, sell souvenirs, handicrafts and paintings. You can choose from oriental landscapes, skullcaps and turbans, textile oriental shoes, Uzbek ceramics and jewellery.

In 2009, Amir Temur Square, where the park is located in Tashkent, underwent a major reconstruction. In place of the old park, an open square with fountains, paths, lawns and newly planted trees was created.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Barak khan Madrasah

Tashkent - Barak khan Madrasah

Barak-khan Madrasah was built in the 16th century by order of the ruler of Tashkent Navruz Ahmadkhan – grandson of Mirzo Ulugbek.

The construction of the Madrasah took place in stages and was completed in 1532.

The building of the Barak-khan Madrasah is located opposite the Mahalla of Hazrati Imam. At that time, this mahalla was considered a centre of scholars, philosophers and connoisseurs of Islam. For five centuries, the Barak-khan Madrasah has been a symbol of the grandeur of History of the city Tashkent. Until 2007, it housed the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Uzbekistan.

Opposite the Madrasah, in the museum located in the building of the Mui Muborak Medrasah, a famous Muslim relic is kept – the Qur’an of Caliph Osman, or the Osman Qur’an, which is considered the oldest manuscript of the Holy Book that has survived to our days. According to legend, the Osman Quran was brought to Maverannahr by Amir Timur himself; in any case, it is known for certain that it was in the court of Mirzo Ulugh Beg in Samarkand in the 15th century.

The Barak-khan Madrasah also includes two embedded mausoleums that were built before the Madrasah was constructed. At the eastern end of the complex is the unnamed mausoleum, originally built for Barak Khan (Nowruz Ahmad Khan) himself, but who died in Samarkand, where his ashes are kept. The second mausoleum-Khanaka with two domes-was built on the burial place of one of the rulers of Tashkent, Suyundsh Khan, a descendant of Mirzo Ulugbek.

The Madrasah is built of bricks and is crowned by three blue domes. The main portal of the Madrasah is decorated with a unique mosaic and paintings. The doors of the cells (hujras ) and the gate of the Barak-Khan Madrasah are inlaid with ivory and non-ferrous metals.

The Barak-Khan Madrasah was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1868, and many of the structures have been restored. Today the Madrasah houses the workshops where the Koran writers and craftsmen work, such as brass and copper engravers and wood carvers.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre Alisher Navoi

Tashkent - Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre Alisher Navoi

The State Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre Alisher Navoi is rightly considered the leading theatre of Tashkent, its national pride and an attractive centre of music and theatre culture. It has a glorious history, rich in wonderful traditions. This history is a solid foundation of high culture and mastery that has made the opera and ballet theatre known worldwide. For almost nine decades, theatre has been accumulating achievements, sharpening its expressions, enhancing its experiences and developing its humanistic principles. The theatre has absorbed all the richness of the national and world classical heritage and created unique examples of Uzbek musical and stage art.

The history of the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre in Tashkent, named after Alisher Navoi, dates back to the 1920s. At that time, the Musical Drama Theatre was founded, on the basis of which the Bolshoi Theatre was created, which is now the leading theatre in the country.

The Musical and Drama Theatre did not have its own building for performances, so the artists had to perform in the circus theatre “Coliseum”. It was the only artistic building erected in the first half of the XX century. The construction of the “Coliseum” was carried out over ten years and the construction was directed by Tsintsadze, a migrant from Tbilisi. A few years after the opening, the theatre was nationalised. A little later, in the 1930s, Russian and Uzbek musical theatres performed here. Even after reconstruction, the “Coliseum” building could not fully support the intended performances, especially national and large classical spectacles. The need to construct a special building for the theatre increased and then a state competition was announced to prepare the best project. The designs developed were published in the press and the public had the opportunity to discuss them. According to the summary of the competition, the winner was academician Alexey Shusev, who prepared the project for the new theatre building and also designed many other projects for the buildings in Moscow, including the Mausoleum on Red Square.

Construction began in 1939, but the new building was interrupted in 1942-1944 for the duration of the war. Uzbek painters were invited to decorate and embellish the halls, and in 1945 the final work on the building was carried out with the participation of Japanese prisoners of war.

The prominent architect planned six side foyers in an individual, original style, taking into account the architectural traditions of the country’s regions. Halls were planned in Tashkent, Khorezm, Fergana, Bukhara, Termez and Samarkand. The Bukhara hall is distinguished by the use of mirrored ganche carvings. The Samarkand hall is distinguished by its original two-layered carving. Notable for the Khorezm Hall is the presence of carved ganch panels similar to the wooden carvings of Khorezm. The Termez Hall is decorated in the style of the palace of the Termez prince. The galleries and other theatrical spaces are decorated with murals.

After the theatre was built, it was proposed to build a fountain in front of the main entrance. It was Aleksey Shusev, the author of the project, who made this suggestion. A few years ago, the fountain was renovated and is now decorated with the original lighting accompanied by music. Residents and guests of the capital of Uzbekistan come to the theatre building to admire the new “singing” fountain.

In 2012-2015, the theatre building itself was reconstructed and the opening ceremony of the renovated building was attended by the Prime Minister of Japan.

Etiquette and rules for visiting the theatre

  • From the earliest times it is customary to dress elegantly to visit the theatre.
  • Jeans, sportswear and athletic shoes are unacceptable in the theatre.
  • Entrance to the theatre is carried out only upon presentation of a ticket. The ticket is also purchased for children from the age of 5. Children under the age of five are not allowed for evening performances.
  • After the third bell, the doors to the hall are closed and the play begins.
  • After the beginning of the performance, the entrance to the auditorium is strictly prohibited.
  • If you are late, you should contact the ticket-collectors and they will help you enter the hall through the balcony of the 1st or 2nd tier. Your seat in the hall, according to a ticket or an invitation card, you can take only during the intermission.
  • If your seat is occupied, you need to contact the ticket-collectors for help.
  • It is unacceptable to enter the hall in the outer clothing and stay during the action in the headdress.
  • Walking along the row is supposed to face the sitting persons.
  • You can’t bring food, water and other drinks into the hall.
  • Mobile phones and other noisy devices should be turned off.
  • You can make photo and video recordings during the performance only with the permission of the Management of the theatre.
  • Smoking is allowed only in specially designated places.
  • During the action, you should not voice your opinion.
  • Presenting flowers to the artists is accepted only after the end of the action or a concert.
  • At the end of the play, you should wait until the curtain closes and exit of the actors for the audience to bow.
  • You can leave the hall during the intermission or after the performance.
  • During the theatrical action, the hall can be left only through the door of the amphitheatre.

The repertoire of the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre Alisher Navoi in Tashkent includes opera and ballet performances as well as children’s performances.


  1. G.Verdi: “Aida”
  2. G. Verdi: “Rigoletto”
  3. G. Verdi: “La Traviata”
  4. G.Verdi: “Il Trovatore”
  5. S. Rachmaninow: “Aleko”
  6. G.Puccini: “La Boheme”
  7. V.A. Mozart: “the Imresario” comic singspiel in 2 acts
  8. А.Rubinstein: “Demon’s”
  9. P.Chaikovsky: “Iolanta”
  10. G. Bizet: “Pearl seekers” (Les pêcheurs de perles)
  11. G. Bizet: “Carmen”
  12. Сoncert of masters of the Bolshoi Theater. Closing of the 89-th theater season
  13. M. Makhmudov: “Kumush”
  14. G. Donizetti: “L’elisir d’amore”
  15. G. Donizetti: “Lucia di Lammermoor”
  17. Parade of tenors
  18. S.Yudakov: “Tricks of Maysara”
  19. R.Abdullaev: “Sadokat”
  20. J. Rossini: “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”
  21. P. Mascagni: “Cavalleria rusticana”
  22. T. Jalilov und B. Brovtsyn: “Tahir and Zuhra”
  23. Ch.Gounod: “La Traviata”
  24. G.Puccini: “Tosca”
  25. M.Bafoev: “Hamsa”
  26. N.A. Rimsky-Korsakow: “The Tsar’s Bride”


  1. The Polovtsian Dances, act 2 of A. Borodin’s opera «Prince Igor»
  2. M.Ashrafi: “Amulet of Love”
  3. B. Asafjew: “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai”
  4. L.Minkus: “La Bayadère”
  5. K.Khachaturian: “Snow White and Seven Dwarfs”
  6. G. Verdi, P. Mascagni: “”La Dame aux Camellias””
  7. L.Minkus: “Don Quijote”
  8. I. Strawinsky, N. Rimsky-Korsakow: “Firebird, Sheherazade”
  9. A. Adan: “Giselle”
  10. A.Adan: “Le Corsaire”
  11. P.I. Tschaikowsky: “Swan Lake”
  12. A. Melikow: “The Poem of two hearts”
  13. S. Prokofjew: “Romeo and Juliet”
  14. P. Tschaikowsky: “The Sleeping Beauty”
  15. U.Musaev: “Tomiris”
  16. F.Amirov: “One Thousand and One Nights”
  17. P.Chaikovsky: “Francesca da Rimini”
  18. A. Ergashev: “The Humo”
  19. F.Chopin: “Chopiniana”
  20. A. Borodin: “Polovtsian Dances”
  21. N.Rimskij-Korsakow: “Sheherazade”
  22. P.Tschaikowsky: “The Nutcracker”


  1. G.Gladkov: “The Bremen Town Musicians”
  2. P. Tchaikowsky: “The Return of the Nutcracker”
  3. S. Varelas: “Aladdin’s Magic Lamp”
  4. M.Maksudi, A.Danielyan: “Megabyte fairy tale in the Bolshoi”
  5. S.Prokofiev: “Peter and the Wolf. Symphonic fairytale”
  6. A. Ergashev: “The Snow Queen”
  7. E.Komarova, R.Sherezdanov: “Superheroes in the Bolshoy”
  8. K.Khachaturyan: “Cipollino”


  1. R.Sherazdanov: “New Year’s Masquerade”

Places of interest

Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar

Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar

The Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent is one of the largest in Central Asia. Under seven huge domes lined with colourful glazed ceramic tiles are pavilions where farmers sell the fruits of their labour. The abundance and variety of goods at the fruit and vegetable stalls astounds the eye at any time of the year. Mountains of red apples and honey pears, bunches of black, pink and amber sweet grapes, peaches with delicate fuzz, plums and huge quince fruits pile up at the stalls. Yellow figs carefully covered with green leaves. Pomegranates with ruby-red seeds and orange-red persimmons are placed in baskets. Huge watermelons and pineapple-scented melons pile up like mountain peaks.

The Chorsu Bazaar is not only the largest bazaar in Tashkent, but also the oldest. More than two millennia ago, there was a suburb of Tashkent – Rabad Chach. Here, on the border between steppe nomads and settled tribes, there was a special fair in ancient times, where both local farmers and nomads and foreign merchants exchanged their goods and traded. And in the early Middle Ages, this bazaar was at the junction of downtown Shahristan and Rabad, inhabited by artisans, and became a real urban centre. The trade routes emanating from the Great Silk Road led here from all the city gates. The bazaar was not only a place of trade, but also a kind of club where people learned the news of the city, and the heralds – jarchi – announced the khan’s decrees.

Nowadays, the Chorsu Bazaar still retains its importance. It is equipped according to all modern requirements. Almost all means of transport lead there, communication works perfectly here, the premises have been repaired and renovated and many rows of trade and shops have been built.

In one of the pavilions, a cloud of spicy aromas envelops the customers. There is a lot to see and do! Saffron and cinnamon, red and black pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom, cumin and zira seeds, without which you cannot cook a real Uzbek pilaf. Fresh lamb and selected beef can be found under another dome. Bags of rice pile up, crystals of navat sugar sparkle. Vendors vie with each other to offer sultanas and apricots, almonds and pistachios, walnuts and peanuts.

As in ancient times, the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent is surrounded by workshops of artisans making and selling jewellery and gold-embroidered robes, embroidered suzans and Uzbek national knives, wicker baskets and embossed trays in various sizes and configurations, and national musical instruments. In the carpet row are carpets and palaces from Khiva, Samarkand and Bukhara.

The architecture of the building has been carefully preserved and, despite the restorations, a huge dome glazed with blue tiles and covered with traditional ornaments bears the imprint of antiquity and national culture. The dome is about 300-350 metres in diameter. This structure is a winter market consisting of three floors equipped with lifts.

On the lowest level there are basement rooms, corridors and various utility rooms. On the middle and upper levels are the stalls with goods. The market rows are divided according to the type of goods sold: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, oriental sweets, spices, grains, clothes and household items are sold in separate pavilions.

The main attraction of the market is, of course, the rows of stalls. You can find products for every taste: carpets, souvenirs, household items, handicrafts, spices, sweets and all that with a touch of oriental flair.

The traditional assortment of any bazaar, including Chorsu, also includes local seasonal fruits and vegetables, greens, meat and dairy products (katyk – sour milk, kefir, cottage cheese and kurt (curd balls), spices (red and black pepper, cumin, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron, cardamom, cloves, zira, coriander, turmeric and dried ground tomatoes). According to locals, the Chorsu market always sells the freshest and tastiest produce.

The second level of the Chorsu bazaar sells dried fruits (apricots, sultanas, plums), different kinds of nuts and of course traditional oriental sweets (navat, parvarda, peanuts in sugar, coloured sultanas, nuts in apricots, salted apricot kernels).

In the open part of the market you will find the stalls where you can try different dishes of Uzbek cuisine: Naryn, mutton liver shashlik on a spit, genuine Uzbek pilaf, samsa.

There are also various workshops where visitors can watch craftsmen making bowls, various musical instruments and beautiful caskets. You can also buy souvenir Uzbek chapan, tyubeteykas (skull caps), hand-embroidered bags and cosmetic bags, as well as handmade costume jewellery and products made of gold and silver.

At the Chorsu Bazaar, as at any other market, you will have to haggle. Each vendor will have their own product available for sampling, which is something you should not neglect. You can try and buy everything after browsing through all the rows.

A nice bonus is that there is always something to eat here: Hot lepeshkas, pilaf and many other oriental dishes and drinks can be found near the rows of shops.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Circus

Tashkent - Circus

Like all big cities, Tashkent has its own circus with a history of about 100 years. It dates back to the time when artists from various European countries and Russia performed in Central Asia. At that time, semi-permanent circuses were organised by Shapito in the capital of Uzbekistan and in other cities.

The date of appearance of the real fully functional circus is considered to be 1914, which existed in Tashkent until 1966, in that year there was a terrible earthquake, which completely destroyed the circus.

After 10 years it was rebuilt, the circus was located on Khadra and in 1999 it was completely renovated. The dome of the circus, painted in the colour of the sky, can be seen from far away. The building itself was built according to the traditions of Eastern culture with wood carvings, stained glass windows with interesting patterns and ceramic mosaics.

For a long time, even before the circus was built, artists from different countries toured the park. With the appearance of its own circus, it began to fulfil its main purpose, which was to popularise national circus arts. During its existence, about 20 productions, more than 100 circus acts distinguished by their originality, were performed here.

Jugglers, acrobats and trained animals also performed here. Today, the artists from Uzbekistan tour the world with their programme. They have already performed in 30 countries in Asia and Africa as well as in European countries.

The artists of Circus Tashkent have won prizes at various festivals in the Russian Federation, Germany, China, France and the United Arab Emirates. Every single performance of the circus artists from Tashkent causes a sensation and delights the audience. For this reason, the circus stages are never empty and appreciative spectators applaud the masterpieces of the circus artists at every performance. You can book a hotel in Tashkent on our site in just a few minutes.

Places of interest
Komplex Hast Imam in Taschkent

Tashkent - Complex Khast Imam

Tashkent - Complex Khast Imam

The complex was built on the tomb of one of the first Imams of Tashkent, the famous scholar, expert of the Koran and Hadith, poet, craftsman Abubakr Muhammad Kaffali Shashi (d. in the Xth century) or Hazrati Imam (Khast Imam for short). According to legend, he was nicknamed “Kaffal” (“the master key maker”) for making an amazing lock whose key weighed one and a half kilograms. His tomb was highly revered. The entire area in this part of the old city was named Imam after Sheikh Hazrati. In the XVI century, a mausoleum was built over the Sheikh’s tomb. Despite the fact that the building of the mausoleum was repeatedly repaired, the walls of the old part of the mausoleum remained fired bricks and a unique decoration for Tashkent – majolica of the XVI century with a historical inscription with the names of the architect and calligrapher, as well as the date of construction – 1541-1542. This monument is of great historical and artistic value.

In the sixteenth century, the base of the ensemble was the Barak-khan madrasah. There is a rich library of oriental manuscripts. Opposite the Barak-khan Madrasah is the Tilla Sheikh Mosque (19th century).

The Khast Imam complex also includes the Muyi Muborak Madrasah of Tashkent, which means “blessed hair”. According to legend, a hair of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) – a holy relic of Muslims – is kept in the madrasa. The building dates back to the 16th century and has been restored several times. The Muyi-Mubarak Madrasah houses the world-famous Qur’an of Caliph Osman, the oldest in the world. This Koran is the first source of the holy book, written on the skin of a deer in the middle of the VII century. Only 6 such Korans were written. There are only 4 copies left in the world and the best preserved is in Uzbekistan. There are scattered pages of the remaining 4 Qurans in England, Turkey and Egypt. The officially accepted version of how the Quran came to Uzbekistan from Osman is as follows: When Amir Temur defeated the Turkish ruler Bayazid in 1402, the great general passed through the Iraqi city of Basra, from where he took the Quran and brought it to Samarkand, where it was kept in a madrasa. In 1869, the Russian general von Kaufman conquered the city of Samarkand and brought the Koran of Osman to the imperial library in St. Petersburg. In 1917, a letter is written to the government in Uzbekistan requesting that the Koran of Osman be returned to its true owner. In 1924, the Koran of Osman was brought to Tashkent in a special carriage, where it is kept in the Museum of the History of the Peoples of Uzbekistan. In 1989, the Koran was handed over to the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of Uzbekistan for permanent safekeeping. Now it is kept in a sarcophagus from Germany, which automatically maintains the optimal humidity and temperature.

The building of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Uzbekistan, which houses more than 22 thousand religious books, was built in 2007 next to the Muyi Muborak Madrasah.

In the same year 2007, a new building of the mosque “Hazrati Imam” was built according to the rules of XVI century architecture with two minarets, whose gallery “Aiwan” represents the fine work of woodcarvers of different schools (from Kokand, Samarkand and Bukhara). Exotic trees, shrubs and flowers from different countries were brought for this complex. Thanks to the successful lighting, the architectural complex is reminiscent of a picture from “1000 and one nights”.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Independence Square

Tashkent - Independence Square

Independence Square (in Uzbek “Mustaqillik Maydoni”) is the main square of Uzbekistan and is located in the heart of Tashkent, the capital of this Central Asian country. Citizens often gather here to celebrate national holidays, on weekdays and weekends you can meet honeymooners and generally there is always a bustle and pleasant atmosphere here.

The park zone is located near the Ankhor – city river canal, on the banks of which you can often see Tashkent residents relaxing. Along the square you can take a leisurely and pleasant walk under the murmur and splash of the magnificent seven-metre-high fountains. The majestic cypress avenues also deserve special attention – you simply have to see them with your own eyes.

Independence Square is central tourist attraction of Tashkent with a complicated history dating back to the 19th century.

In 1865, the Khanate of Kokand ceased to exist and Tashkent was annexed to the Russian Empire. It was decided to rebuild the city in a European way according to the general plan, which prescribed the arrangement of areas and streets along a certain (central-radial) ground plan. The palace of the Khan of Kokand, which stood not far from the present site of Mustaqillik Maydoni, was destroyed and the construction of a residence for the Governor General of Turkestan (the building was called the White House) was begun in its place. Soon the square in front of this palace was called Sobornaya Square, as the Transfiguration (Military) Cathedral was built on its other side. In the 1930s the cathedral was demolished and the square was renamed Red Square.

In 1956 there was another renaming – the square was named after Lenin. In April 1966, Tashkent was hit by a severe earthquake, which resulted in the central part of the city being almost completely destroyed. This disaster forced a radical reconstruction, which was completed in 1974. The result was an area 3.5 times larger. This square in Tashkent received its current name “Independence Square” in 1992 after the collapse of the USSR and the secession of Uzbekistan from its structure.

The Lenin Monument (made by the sculptor N. Tomski during the reconstruction of the square) was dismantled in 1991 and the Monument to the Independence of Uzbekistan was erected in its place on an old plinth. It depicts a globe cast in bronze with the hypertrophic outlines of Uzbekistan’s borders, symbolising the recognition of the former Soviet Union as an independent state and an equal member of the international community.

The general reconstruction has given the square a modern look, and the buildings have been restored and refined. The first thing people see at the entrance to the square is the Arch of “Good and Noble Intentions”, which bears the official name “Ezgulik”. The structure consists of sixteen columns of light marble connected by the overlap, on which figures of storks, a symbol of peace and serenity, have been placed.

An alley starts from the ensemble of columns, on both sides of which are the most impressive fountains and parks. The alley leads to the Independence Monument and the Monument of the Happy Mother. The figure of a woman holding a baby was installed at the foot of the monument in 2006. The Monument of the Happy Mother represents the Motherland and her care for the “children” – the Uzbek people.

On the left side of the square are the Senate (until 2003 it was replaced by the Alisher Novoi Library), the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan, various ministries and other administrative buildings. Opposite the government offices is a park with an avenue of remembrance and glory as a tribute to the fallen of the Great Patriotic War.

On the left and right sides of the alley are galleries with carved granite and wooden columns. Fourteen stelae represent fourteen regions of the country. On these slabs are memorial books in which are written in gold all the names of the brave Uzbeks who gave their lives defending their homeland against the fascist invaders. At the end of the alley is the Monument to Independence and Humanism. People still remember the bloody price their ancestors paid for their children’s freedom, so you can see laid flowers at the monument all year round.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Khoja Akhrar Vali Mosque

Tashkent - Khoja Akhrar Vali Mosque

The Khoja Akhrar Vali Djuma Mosque (Friday Mosque) is the foundation of the Registan Ensemble, located in the area of the Chorsu Bazaar Square in Tashkent. It is the only example of a Friday court-type mosque practised in Central Asia in the late Middle Ages.

The main building is a cuboid structure, roofed by a dome with four windows in a low drum. The east wall facing the courtyard is intersected by a large arch. The dome of the structure is sphero-conical, without ornamentation. The dome is based on sphero-conical sails. The arch of the arch niche at the entrance portal is lancet-shaped, not Central Asian, but rather Gothic abraded. The mosque has an elongated rectangular plan with a large building volume at the end of the east-west longitudinal axis.

The foundations of the mosque were laid in the IX century, after the Arab conquest of ancient Zoroastrian Tashkent, then called Chach.

In 819, the young Emir Yahya ibn Asad, who had just received a letter from the Arab Viceroy in the eastern part of the Caliphate to rule all the lands of what is now the province of Tashkent, stopped his horse at the hills that are still clearly visible between the three city squares – Chorsu, Chodra and Eski-Juwa. “Here we will build our capital,” Yahya said to his entourage, which moved respectfully behind him, “on this hill shall stand Madinah ash-Shash, the northern outpost of Mawara’unnahr!” In his wake were Turkish guards who unanimously repeated the commander’s words, “Yes, yes, here the city of Shash will rise!” In the language of the Turks, “Madina ash-Shash” sounds like “Shashkent”. And on the highest point of the chosen hill, Yahya ibn Asad ordered the foundation stone to be laid for the first Friday Mosque in Tashkent.

In 1432, Ubaydullah Khoja Akhrar, one of the most famous figures in the social life of the Temurid dynasty, who was born in 1404 in the mountain village of Boghistan near Tashkent, visited Tashkent. On his departure, Khoja Akhrar Vali ordered the construction of a large Friday mosque and madrasa in the old Gulbazar Mahalla of Tashkent. Legend has it that Ubaydullah gained the money for the construction by selling scraps of thread that formed by themselves on the edges of rolls of cloth cut into standard pieces. Whether it is true or not, however, on the old foundations left over from the first mosque in Tashkent at the time of Yahya ibn Asad, a characteristic ashlar with a dome and a vaulted ceiling open to the east rose in the mid-15th century.

Opposite the old main entrance of the mosque, which used to be on the north side, a modest one-storey medrese was built in 1451. Today it no longer exists, as the city administration decided in 1954 to dismantle it for bricks needed for the restoration of neighbouring buildings.

Tashkent, as the city is called, is located close to the mountains, in the earthquake zone. Therefore, many of the medieval monumental buildings here often suffered from the earthquakes, sometimes even collapsing altogether. The Friday Mosque was not spared frequent restorations. In the 19th century, during the heyday of the independent state of Tashkent under the administration of the hokim (mayor) of Sheikhantahur Yunus Khoja, the main dome was thoroughly repaired and the vaulted galleries with cells around a long inner courtyard were completely rebuilt.

Severe damage to the main mosque was caused by a strong earthquake in 1868, which visibly damaged most monuments of medieval architecture in Tashkent. The mosque was out of use for almost two decades. It was only in 1888 that it was finally restored at the expense of the Russian Tsar Alexander III, which is why it became known as the “Tsar’s Mosque”. And although the appearance of the building had to be slightly altered during the reconstruction, it still made a very impressive impression. Suffice it to say that it is the third largest Friday mosque in Uzbekistan. Only two buildings of this kind – Bibi-Khanum in Samarkand and Kalon Mosque in Bukhara – are better.

In the past, when there were no tall buildings, the dome of the Khoja Akhrar Vali Juma Mosque could be seen from all sides, especially from the Chorsu Bazaar, the oldest in Tashkent, which has been bustling in the same spot for over a thousand years. The architectural ensemble around the Khoja Akhrar Vali Juma Mosque is now almost completely destroyed, except for a heavily restored building of the Kukaldash Medrese and the dome of the Gulbazar Mahalla Mosque. Nowadays, the original appearance of this remarkable corner of historic Tashkent can only be imagined through rare old photographs.

At the time when photography was still in its infancy, photographers liked to climb the 15-metre-high dome of the main building of the Khoja Akhrar Vali Mosque to take bird’s-eye views of the panorama of old Tashkent with their then imperfect equipment.

The mosque was reconstructed in 2003, using modern methods of construction and decoration. Now not one, but three large domes crown the historic Old Town hill, the mosque looks chic and festive and many people come here. And the convenient location – nearby is one of the oldest bazaars in Tashkent.

Places of interest
Medrese Kukeldash in Taschkent

Tashkent - Kukeldash Madrasah

Tashkent - Kukeldash Madrasah

Tashkent is a city with more than two thousand years of history and has preserved many historical monuments that are excellent examples of Central Asian architecture. A special place among them is undoubtedly occupied by the Kukeldash Madrasah built in Tashkent.

One of the largest Madrasahs in Central Asia, Kukeldash is located in the historical heart of the city – in the so-called Registan of Tashkent (which is the central architectural ensemble that existed in every large city). The Madrasah stands on a small hill near the famous Chorsu Bazaar, which for centuries was a crossroads for caravans travelling along the Great Silk Road.

The Madrasah was built in 1591 at the expense of the famous statesman of the Shaibanid era, Kul-Bobo Kukeldash (“kukeldash” means “the Khan’s milk brother”). According to historical documents, Kul-Bobo was not only a high-ranking official, but also a scientist and a poet at the court of ruler Abdullakhan.
 The architecture of the building, constructed of baked bricks, is executed in the best traditions of Oriental architecture. The façade of the Madrasah with its high arched entrance is decorated with colourful mosaics and majolica. The rectangular courtyard is divided into hujshras (cells where students lived), a small mosque and a study hall (darskhona).

For many centuries, the Madrasah Kukeldash was the centre of urban life in Tashkent. In the XVIII. Century there was a caravanserai where travellers and visiting merchants stayed. Later in the XIX century, the Madrasah served as a fortress for the rulers of the Khanate of Kokand. In the 1930s, the blue domes of the mosque, the darskhonas (study rooms) and the second floor of the cells were dismantled for the construction of other buildings and later restored by the craftsmen from Tashkent.
 In the nineteenth century, the Kukeldash Madrasah suffered from two earthquakes in 1868 and 1886 and was subsequently rebuilt in 1902-1903. The destroyed vault of the entrance portal was partially restored in the 1960s.

In the 20th century, the Madrasah building housed a museum of atheism, then a museum of Uzbek national instruments.

In the years of independence, the building of the Madrasah Kukeldash was restored on the basis of the preserved photographs from the 1980s. After the restoration in 1999, it was decided to return the Madrasah to its role as an Islamic school.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Mausoleum Kaffal Shashi

Tashkent - Mausoleum Kaffal Shashi

The mausoleum of Abubakr Kaffal ash-Shashi (also Abu Bakr al-Kaffal al-Shashi) is one of the most important cultural and architectural monuments in Tashkent and the whole of Uzbekistan. It is part of the Hazrat Imam complex, located in the capital’s historic district.

Due to certain events, the Khazrat Imam ensemble was built near this mausoleum, around which more and more buildings were built, eventually becoming a full-fledged complex. The name of the complex is that of the philosopher and great scholar Abubakr Shashi, who was a worthy representative of his time. He was born in the capital in the sixteenth century, his father was a master locksmith. He received an excellent education in the madrasas of the various major cities. Because of his deep devotion to Islam, he made many pilgrimages to Mecca, visited great cities and talked to the best scholars of the time. He had such great knowledge in theology and such unquestionable authority that he was given the name of the Great Imam. Most of his contemporaries also believed that he had no equal in the whole of Mawaraunnahr. After receiving a large number of honorary titles and epithets, he was still a resident of Tashkent in the memory of his contemporaries, so he was nicknamed “the Tashkent locksmith”. Incidentally, there is a legend that he got the name “locksmith (Kaffal)” because he made a very beautiful lock whose key weighed more than 1 kilogram.

Like most enlightened people of his time, Abubakr Kaffal was not just a theologian. There is a hint that he was an excellent poet and philosopher. Only a small part of the works he produced have survived to our times. He spent a lot of time studying philosophical currents and spreading his own teachings, yet he devoted some of his works to poetry.

Abubakr ash-Shashi spent his entire life spreading Islam and enlightenment. Therefore, after his death, his burial place was considered sacred. The first mausoleum, built almost immediately after his death, has not survived to this day. Therefore, six centuries later, a new mausoleum was built, which has been preserved to this day.

If you look closely at the façade of the mausoleum, you can read the names of the architects who participated in its construction as well as the date of its completion.

The mausoleum was built in a style unusual for this type of building, the khanaka. Originally, khanakas were built as temporary shelters for wayfarers and pilgrims. This is their similarity to monasteries; however, the main difference between khanakas was that they were easy to enter and leave, which is not characteristic of monasteries.

The tomb of Abubakr Kaffal ash-Shashi became a pilgrimage site for a large number of Muslims from all over the world, so it was decided to build this mausoleum in Tashkent in this style. It is square and has an asymmetrical ground plan. It is also located on an elevated plot of land, which raises the building above the other houses. Although the Kaffal mausoleum is very massive, it looks surprisingly slender as it is crowned by a dome. Unlike almost all mausoleums, its entrance faces north (it is common to face Mecca). In addition to the large hall, the building has three floors of pilgrimage cells.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Mausoleum Kaldirgochbiy

Tashkent - Mausoleum Kaldirgochbiy

The Kaldirgochbiy Mausoleum (or Tölabiy Mausoleum) in Tashkent is one of the most famous sights of Uzbekistan. The mausoleum building is distinguished by its dome, which is cone-shaped, which is not typical of buildings in Uzbekistan.

The construction period of this building dates back to the beginning of the XV century. This historical mausoleum is especially revered by Kazakhs living in the capital of Uzbekistan, its suburbs and on the territory of southern Kazakhstan. According to legend, the building was named after Tölabiy, a Kazakh leader. He ruled over the Elder Horde in the first half of the XVIIIth century. He ruled over the Elder Horde in the first half of the XVIII century and was popularly nicknamed “Kaldirgoch”, which means “Holy Swallow”, hence the second name of this building in Tashkent is “Kaldirgochbiy Mausoleum”. According to a legend, the famous Kazakh tolabiy who lived here refused to go anywhere during the conquest of these territories when all the locals left their homes. When the soldiers asked him the legitimate question why he had not run away with all the others, he replied that a swallow had built a nest under the veranda of his house and he could not leave it to certain death. The invaders were very surprised at his courage and left Tölabiy and his family alive.

In the first half of the 20th century, doubts arose among the people that a man of Muslim faith was buried in Tölyabiy’s mausoleum without violating the traditional rituals and that, according to many, he was not a true follower of Islam. To verify these rumours, the governor of the city of Kokand entered the mausoleum at night, in consultation with the guard of the Eshon Kuli-Datha Medrese (which was located in the Sheikhantahur cemetery). Thus, by the light of flickering candles held by a 12-year-old boy, they managed to open one of the saganas. Then a dagger decorated with semi-precious stones was discovered under the pillow. This is unacceptable according to Muslim tradition. It was decided to leave the found object where it was found and all involved were strictly forbidden to talk about what had happened.

Some decades later, during repair work, a boy who was present when the sagana was opened, who had already become an old man, wanted to find the dagger with the gems, but did not find it in its former place. Shortly before his death, he told his son about this fact. Thus the secret was declassified.

Today, it is not known exactly who is buried in the mausoleum. But the building has been recognised as a historical monument of architecture and carefully protected by the city.

The building of the Kaldirgochbiy Mausoleum in Tashkent has a regular rectangular shape with an unusual and striking pyramid-like dome. Researchers say that such a shape of domes is typical for constructions of local steppe nomads, as it reminds them of their native mountain peaks of the Tien Shan and Alatau Mountains. During the mausoleum’s existence, its dome was badly damaged. It was restored only in the seventies of the XX century.

The hall of the mausoleum has a cruciform shape and consists of four niches, at the corners of which there is an ancient circular staircase made of bricks and hujshras (special rooms for students). The crypt itself, which has a square shape, is located above the main hall.

The foundation of the basic structure is laid at a depth of about one and a half metres and consists of special wooden fortifications, thanks to which the walls of the mausoleum have remained safe to this day. The facade of the structure is practically uncovered, only near the base of the dome the ganchy stalactites from the XV century have been preserved. The decoration of the structure, the decorative design of the territory and the adjacent courtyard could not be preserved.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Mausoleum Yunus-Khan

Tashkent - Mausoleum Yunus-Khan

Not far from one of the most important sights of Tashkent, the Sheikhantahur Mausoleum, is the Yunus-Khan Mausoleum and not many people know what an amazing and extraordinary personality was the man in whose honour this structure was built in the XV century. An interesting fact is that Yunus-Khan the Mughal (1415-1485) was related to two important figures who left an indelible mark on the history of Central Asia. This respected and influential politician was a descendant of Genghis Khan, the Mongol conqueror who ruled Mawara’unnahr. The grandson of Yunus-Khan was Zahiriddin Babur, the direct descendant of Amir Temur, the military leader who spent many years of his life liberating Mawara’unnahr from Mongol rule. Moreover, one of Yunus-Khan’s relatives became the wife of another outstanding scion of the Timurid dynasty – Mirzo Ulugbek.

Yunus-Khan lost his father at the age of 13, which radically changed his further fate. The boy was sent to Herat and later to Yazd, where he spent his childhood under the tutelage of Sharafiddin al-Yazdi, the famous author of the “Book of Victories” (“Zafarnoma”) and court historian of Amir Temur. Under the sensitive guidance of his wise teacher, the young Yunus-Khan received the best education: he learned natural sciences, theology, literature, Arabic and Persian languages, played musical instruments and began to write poetry. After twenty years of “honourable exile” far from home, Yunus-Khan returned in 1456 and was appointed Khan of the Mongol-Ulus. After winning the support of the Temurids, he became governor of several parts of Fergana, and later, thanks to the influence of Sheikh Khodja Akhrar, he added Tashkent to his possessions. Success accompanied Yunus-Khan in all his endeavours, but in 1485 he was forced to relinquish the role of governor and transfer power to his sons because an illness – paralysis – had struck him. He spent two years before his death in a Dervish Sufi monastery near the tomb of Havendi at-Takhur, where he was buried. As a mark of respect, Yunus-Khan’s sons built a mausoleum.

The Yunus Khan Mausoleum is a unique building from the XV century. This one of the few monuments preserved in Tashkent from the Temurid period has practically no similar structures in Central Asia (except in Iran), as it is built in the form of a T-shaped khanaka – dwelling place of dervishes and pilgrims with residential cells – hujshras, housed in two floors. The Yunus Khan Mausoleum, a rather massive structure with a double dome and a portal, is striking for its size. The entrance is decorated with a high pointed arch. On the outside, the mausoleum is decorated in a strict ascetic style: the façade is decorated only with wooden grilles, calligraphic Arabic script and the ornament “girikh”. Carved wooden entrance door was transferred to the Yunus-Khan mausoleum in the 1930s from a demolished neighbourhood mosque. The interior of the mausoleum is decorated with stone columns. A mukarnas, a folded vault in the form of stalactites, can be seen under the vault. The hall of the mausoleum is opened on three sides by openings and the outer dome is built on a cylindrical drum. The domed ceiling of the main hall is in the form of intersecting arches and sails. The mausoleum of Yunus-Khan is full of mystery: an ancient oriental instrument, the chang, has been cleverly installed between the door panels, making the doors musical. Moreover, the tomb itself has not been found, its true location remains a mystery to this day.

Currently, the Mausoleum of Yunus-Khan is part of the complex of the Islamic University of Tashkent.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Memorial Shahidlar Khotirasi

Tashkent - Memorial Shahidlar Khotirasi

The Memorial Shahidlar Khotirasi was opened in Tashkent in May 2002. It is dedicated to the inhabitants of Uzbekistan who were oppressed in the 1920-1940s of the XX century. At that time more than 100 thousand people were under repression, more than 13 thousand were shot. Among them were great writers and poets such as Abdullah Qodiriy, Fitrat, Chulpon and others. Many well-known politicians and scientists were also executed. The building was constructed in the very part of the city where mass executions of convicts took place.

To ensure that the blessed memory of these people is not forgotten, the memorial complex was built, which has now become one of the most popular and well-known landmarks in the capital. A presidential decree declared 31 August as the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Repression.

The Memorial Shahidlar Khotirasi in Tashkent covers an area of 17 hectares and includes a park, a rotunda and the museum “In Memory of the Victims of Repression”. The latter was built in a classical style for the East, with amazingly beautiful wood carvings adorning the walls and crowned by a dome in celestial colours. The museum has unique photographs and documentation containing information about the terrible times of bloody terror, about the struggle of the Uzbek people for independence and about the Gulag camps. During the latest reconstruction to expand the expositions, a hall was added to present the achievements of Uzbekistan in the years of independence. The museum is equipped with modern multimedia equipment that allows music, documentary videos and other valuable materials to be broadcast on a large screen. The staff of the institution carry out scientific and educational activities: They study archival documents, collect historical facts and create material for artistic publications.

The rotunda in honour of the victims of the repressions is a huge turquoise dome supported by eight marble columns. There are two of them on each of the four sides. The height of the structure is 27 metres.

Granite stairs lead into the rotunda from different sides. When visitors climb them, they reach the side covered with shiny slabs. In the central part of the rotunda is a symbolic jade with an engraved inscription in Arabic, Uzbek and English that translates as: “The memory of the deceased who fought for their fatherland lives on forever.” If you lift your head, you can see the beautiful dark blue ceiling of the dome painted with Uzbek patterns. Its outer part has a relief-like, sharp-edged border that once again emphasises the national style of the building.

The area around the rotunda is designed as a composition of walkways and flowerbeds. They are all in the form of rings and half-rings with a rotunda in the middle. The flowers in the beds are planted in interesting multi-coloured patterns.

The beautiful park area symbolises the strength of spirit and perseverance in the beliefs of those who were victims of Stalin’s repressions. The park is laid out on the bank of the narrow Bozsu Canal. It can be crossed via a picturesque bridge that starts near the rotunda. There are also tiered fountains that create a cool environment. Ornamental spruces, thuas, pines and birches are planted on the grounds. All the low shrubs and trees are regularly pruned.

Places of interest
Minor Moschee in Taschkent

Tashkent - Minor Mosque

Tashkent - Minor Mosque

One of the newest religious buildings in Tashkent is the Minor Mosque. The mosque stands on the renovated bank of the Ankhor (canal), which is very landscaped and suitable for recreation.

Although the mosque is not associated with historical events, it is not shrouded in mysterious legends, it is worth visiting to admire the beauty and openwork interior. It is rightly considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the Uzbek capital. It is also worth looking at the mosque from a distance, from the bank of the Ankhor (canal) – the snow-white building with the bright blue dome looks incredibly majestic and at the same time fragile, like a mirage in the desert.

Admission for visitors is free. However, Islamic dress rules apply. Legs and shoulders must be covered, women are given headscarves at the entrance. The courtyard is open to the public, but only the men are allowed into the mosque itself. For the women, there is a small room that is fenced in with bars.

Construction began in the summer of 2013. A year later, on the eve of one of the holiest holidays for the Muslim people, Kurban Bairam, the doors of the newly built Minor Mosque opened to the people of Uzbekistan on 1 October 2014.

The funds for the construction of the main mosque in the capital were provided by the state budget of Uzbekistan and the Spiritual Administration of Uzbek Muslims. The mosque was equipped with the latest technology, which was evident in separate washrooms with all amenities for the worshippers.

Decorated with white marble, the Minor Mosque building is designed to accommodate 2,400 visitors at a time. This makes the Minor Mosque one of the largest Muslim centres in Tashkent. The building is in the religious Uzbek style, with azure domes reminiscent of the Registan in Samarkand.

Inside, the mosque looks traditional for a Central Asian place of worship: a mihrab (a niche in the Muslim place of worship facing towards Mecca) with lines from the Koran and quotations from the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.V), mud plaster walls with intricate carvings and frescoes. The local mihrab was created as an exact copy of the mihrab of Samarkand.

Besides the two-storey prayer hall, the mosque building includes: the rooms for ablutions and the terraces leading to the inner courtyard with carved wooden columns.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Museum Islam Karimov

Tashkent - Museum Islam Karimov

The full name of this museum in Tashkent is very long and lush in oriental style: the Museum of the Scientific-Educational Memorial Complex named after the first President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Until recently, the building in which it is located was one of the most closed and inaccessible to visit by the public. It is located on Afrosiab Street in Tashkent and is better known as the “Oqsaroy Residence”. The museum, whose mission is to preserve the memory of Islam Karimov, was opened in 2017. The choice of location for the museum’s organisation is not accidental. During Karimov’s lifetime, the Oqsaroy Palace (translated: White Palace) served as his working residence.

The luxurious 5,460-square-metre palace has become a monument to the authoritarian leader who ruled Uzbekistan for 27 uninterrupted years, first as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Uzbek SSR and from 1991 to 2016 as the first president of independent Uzbekistan.

The organisation of the Museum of Islam Karimov in Tashkent was initiated after the decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on 25 April 2017. In addition to the museum, the structure of the memorial complex includes: a scientific and educational centre, a library with a reading room and a conference hall. The museum complex at Oqsaroy was created with the support of the Islam Karimov Republican Charitable Foundation, which is headed by his wife Tatyana Karimova and daughter Lola Karimova-Tilliyeva.

Nowadays, the exposition is housed in two halls of the palace. One of the halls is dedicated to photographic documents from Karimov’s personal archive, the second contains his art collection. Paintings depicting the president’s portrait at different periods of his life are exhibited here. Interestingly, Islam Karimov never posed for the painters, they made portraits of him from his photographs. There are pictures of the first president addressing the UN, talking to children and reciting prayers with elders. In other pictures, he appears as a mythological bogatyr, defeating a tiger with his bare hands or fighting vultures and hawks – symbols of terrorism and extremism.

In addition to the paintings, rare photographs and personal belongings of Uzbekistan’s first president, the museum has interactive monitors where one can find all the information about Islam Karimov’s life and work.

Visitors can walk through the palace accompanied by a guide and see the rooms where embassy receptions, meetings and celebrations were held during the first president’s lifetime. In the halls of the residence, the parquet floors of fine wood, restrained and at the same time, luxurious style of interior design with predominance of white colour, in accordance with the name of the residence – Oqsaroy – White Palace.

The construction of the museum complex in the former residence of the first president of Uzbekistan required a reorganisation of the space around the museum. During Karimov’s lifetime, the entire territory of the Oqsaroy was surrounded by a concrete fence and carefully guarded.Citizens were forbidden to cross the area, the passage of cars was restricted, and the stairs leading to the Ankhor embankment were covered with earth. Along Afrosiab Street, the palace was blocked by high shields and all passageways were patrolled by guards.

After the decision was made to open the Islam Karimov Museum, the protective fences were dismantled, the walkways along the riverside road and around the palace were laid out, the benches were installed and the flowerbeds were planted.

A monument – a figure of Islam Karimov cast in bronze on a high plinth – was placed in front of the main entrance to the museum. The monument was inaugurated in August 2017 in the presence of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Tatyana Karimova. Its creator – sculptor Ilham Zhabbarov – won an international competition among 68 projects for the monument. The famous sculptor is also the author of the monument to Amir Temur on the square of the same name in the centre of Tashkent.

Places of interest
Museum in Tashkent

Tashkent - Museum of Applied Arts

Tashkent - Museum of Applied Arts

The State Museum of Applied Arts of Uzbekistan is located in Tashkent, in the former palace of the Russian diplomat Alexander Polovtsov Junior. The history of the formation of the future museum begins in 1927 with the organisation of the exhibition in which the best masters of Uzbekistan presented their works, over time it became a permanent institution. The works that had accumulated over the years served as the basis for the exhibition of the Museum of Arts and Crafts of Tashkent, founded in 1937, which was later renamed the Museum of Applied Arts of Uzbekistan.

In the vaults of the museum there are several thousand art objects that fully reveal the history of the development of arts and crafts in Uzbekistan, such as embossing, jewellery, woodcarving and ceramics, as well as the original technique of gold embroidery.

All the objects stored in the museum are divided into three sections. These are the objects of applied art created according to the rules of the old traditions and schools, works of art of the second half of the last century created according to the canons of the folk masters. The last, third group are the works of modern craftsmen, using traditional ornaments products, taking into account the development of modern branches of creative activity.

No less interesting for visitors is the museum building, which is a specimen of architectural and decorative art of the late XIX century. Talented master carvers worked on the interiors.

The core of the museum collection consists of works created during the Soviet period, but you will also find earlier works and contemporary works of applied art. Visitors can also see pottery – jugs, vases, services, vessels and other items created by recognised national ceramics centres. The porcelain pieces are captivating for their ornamentation and the skill of the artists, who often used motifs from poetry in their work.

Hand embroidery also captivates many museum visitors. It is characterised by the diversity of techniques, as almost every region has its own unique style of embroidery. The exposition presents samples of woodcarving, here you can see carved doors and columns, furniture, caskets, tableware, decorated with this type of handicraft. Ladies should be especially interested in jewellery – head, breast, shoulder and hair jewellery, as well as rings and bracelets.

The collection is decorated with gold embroidery, musical instruments, lacquer miniatures and paintings on wood, crystal and glass, carpets and palaces, skullcaps, traditional costumes.

From time to time, performances by national dance groups and displays of traditional costumes are organised for visitors. In the courtyard of the museum there are souvenir shops where you can buy various handicrafts as a souvenir of your visit to this original country.

Visitors from many countries recognise the popularity of Uzbek handicrafts, as each item is unique in its own way. No one can remain indifferent to beautiful objects of human creation. The applied arts and crafts of Uzbek artisans contribute to the treasury of traditional culture not only of their own country, but also of the world cultural heritage. The original Bukhara carpet or the national silk cloth represent the distinctive spirit of these eastern countries. Wooden and ceramic works, engraving and jewellery bear the warmth of their creators’ hands and their aesthetic vision of beauty.

As an official of the Ministry of the Interior, Polovtsov was sent to Tashkent to investigate resettlement issues in Central Asia. His secretary Andreev found and bought a house for him in the city, which was later rebuilt in the Oriental style. The best masters of painting, woodcarving and ganch were brought in to decorate the palace interiors. One of the most brightly decorated rooms in the building is the central hall, which was intended for receiving noble guests. Its walls are decorated with richly ornamented gunch carvings and were also decorated with tempera paints.

The room’s three-storey wooden ceiling is covered with ornate paintings; columns decorated with carving and painting were erected to support it. The fireplaces, which are an example of the skill of the carvers, successfully blend into the interior. When you enter the hall, you want to linger at the door to study its graceful openwork carvings. Other halls, though not as rich, are also tastefully decorated with wood and plaster carvings and murals. In 1970, additional rooms were added to the historic main building to increase the exhibition space.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Museum of Temurid History

Tashkent - Museum of Temurid History

The Uzbek State Museum of Temurid History (or, as it is popularly known, the Amir Temur Museum) is located in the capital of Uzbekistan – in the heart of the city of Tashkent. It was opened in 1996 and is dedicated to the powerful ruler, the Mongol leader Amir Temur (or Tamerlane) and the history of the development of the entire Central Asian region during his reign and dynasty.

The museum often participates in various international exhibitions, so it has made its material and spiritual values known all over the world. Some rare artefacts from the collection have even been exhibited at various foreign exhibitions: the French “Timurid Revival”, the German “Expo-2000”, the Australian “Colours of Fabrics and Ceramics” at the Power House Museum. Various exhibitions are constantly held at the Temurid Museum: “Rare Manuscripts” in cooperation with the Indian Embassy, “Miniature Painting” with the Iranian Embassy and “Far and Near Oman” with the National Department of the Sultanate of Oman.

When the country was recognised as independent in 1991, great attention began to be paid to restoring Uzbek culture and recognising the value of various historical figures who had played an important role in the development of civilised society. Amir Temur is such a personality, a political and military leader, creator of new cultural, scientific and educational reforms and creator of trade relations. Having created a great country, he consolidated its power by uniting the peoples of Uzbekistan. The reign of Amir Temur contributed to the development of scientific and cultural, educational and architectural, musical and visual arts.

The year 1996 was declared the “Year of Amir Temur”, his 660th birthday was celebrated extensively in the country and as a result Uzbekistan decided to build a state museum in the centre of the city of Tashkent depicting the Temurid history.. The ceremonial opening of the museum took place in autumn 1996, attended by both locals and foreign guests.

The blue dome of the museum evokes memories of the Gur Emir Mausoleum in Samarkand. Although the museum was built according to the traditions of medieval architecture, it meets all modern requirements.

The museum building itself is a round building with a standard oriental-style dome. This museum in Tashkent is spread over 3 floors, all of which, with the exception of the ground floor, tell the Temurid history. The interiors of the museum are decorated with marble and paintings, columns and miniatures, and also with gold, which was used for decoration more than 20 kg. On the walls of the halls are frescoes depicting the life of Amir Temur. In the museum there is also a chandelier made of crystal with a height of 8.5 metres, consisting of 106 thousand pendants.

The Museum of Temurid History has about 5 thousand exhibits, all relating to the time of Amir Temur and the Temurid dynasty. About 2 thousand of these items are displayed in the museum’s exhibition halls. The museum presents the genealogy of Amir Temur, his rise to power, military campaigns, diplomatic and trade relations, the main stages in the development of the city, education and science. There are also exhibits related to members of the Temurid dynasty: the weapons, maps, coins, miniatures, manuscripts, pottery and jewels.

The exhibitions:

  • Warrior’s clothing (XIV-XV centuries)
  • Women’s clothing and headgear
  • Panels and crystal chandeliers
  • Pottery of the XII century
  • A model of the Gur-Emir Mausoleum (15th century, Samarkand)
  • Culture and history of writing in Uzbekistan
  • The city-fortress of Shakhrukhia
  • Our heritage abroad
  • Amir Temur-Klavikho-Samarkand
  • Episodes from the Life of Amir Temur
  • Amir Temur and the Timurids through the eyes of artists
  • The Era of Amir Temur and the Timurids through the Eyes of Scholars and Writers

The museum’s main exhibits also include a copy of Usman’s Koran and an impressive panel dedicated to the life of Amir Temur. It is executed in the style of miniature painting and divided into 3 parts depicting the ruler’s life from birth to death.

The exhibition entitled “Gifts” shows various paintings of Amir Temur from different times, the gifts from the Louvre Museum in France and the correspondence between Amir Temur and the Temurid dynasty with other countries, including Pakistan and Iran, Malaysia and China, Russia and Kazakhstan, Turkey and Georgia.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Museum of the History of Uzbekistan

Tashkent - Museum of the History of Uzbekistan

The State Museum of the History of Uzbekistan in Tashkent is one of the oldest museums both in the capital and in all of Central Asia. Formerly the Lenin Museum, it dates back to the founding of the Turkestan Folk Museum.

The State Museum of History of Uzbekistan was opened on 12 July 1876 under its original name – Folk Museum of Turkestan, founded at the request of Russian scientists and lovers of natural history, anthropology and ethnography. Over time, the museum steadily increased its main exhibition and took part in many international exhibitions: Paris (1900), Milan (1906) and many others. The Historical Museum of Uzbekistan helped to open historical museums in Samarkand in 1896 and in Fergana in 1899.

In February 1919, the museum was renamed “State Museum of Turkestan” and then changed its name once again to “Main Museum of Central Asia”.

In the XX century, the museum changed its name and location a few more times. Today, the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan is located on Rashidov Avenue in Tashkent, in a building constructed in 1970 specifically for the Lenin Museum.

The exposition of the Museum of the History of Uzbekistan covers the history of the country from ancient times to the present. The structure of the museum’s exposition was created on the principle of continuity and progression of history and culture on the territory of Uzbekistan from ancient times to the present. The exhibitions tell about the role and place of the cultural heritage created here in the history of world civilisation.

The aim of the museum exposition is to show visitors the regularities and peculiarities of the historical development of Uzbekistan, the greatness of the country’s history through objects of material, artistic and spiritual culture: various tools, tableware, mirrors made of copper, jewellery and cosmetics. The exhibition was created on the basis of global criteria of historical science, but taking into account the regularities and peculiarities of the history of Uzbekistan itself.

On the ground floor of the museum there is an administrative office, a cinema hall and a conference hall for 50 people, where various scientific conferences and seminars are held. The museum’s exhibits occupy the third and fourth floors of the building. The total exhibition area is 2500 square metres. The number of exhibits exceeds 10 thousand and the number of objects up to 250 thousand.

Some of the most famous exhibits of the Museum of the History of Uzbekistan are the impressive bronze Sak-kettle made in IV-V century BC and the sculpture of Buddha with two monks, called “Triad”, made approximately in I century AD and found by archaeologists during excavations in the Surkhandarya region of Uzbekistan. The museum also exhibits samples of ancient ceramics and fabrics, and a rather large collection of ancient coins, as well as rare archival materials and handwritten documents, historical papers and photographs.

Besides the various historical treasures of Uzbekistan, the museum is also proud of the country’s modern heroes – champions in freestyle wrestling, kurash, tennis and record holders in mountaineering who conquered Mount Everest in 1998.

In designing the exposition, a wide and varied use was made of complexes of archaeological finds, ethnographic material, coins, written sources, photographs. The exposition of the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan is constantly changing, being improved and supplemented with new exhibits, often creating new departments and exhibitions.

In August 2011, for the first time in the history of all museums of Uzbekistan, the State Museum of History of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences opened a children’s museum called “In the World of Wonders”. This museum is intended for children aged 4 to 14.

The main goal of the Children’s Museum is to help children develop and enrich their knowledge of history through non-traditional, interesting and child-friendly programmes and exhibitions, as well as to show and demonstrate their skills and abilities in practice.

In archaeology, they have the opportunity to conduct archaeological excavations using the example of the ancient monument “Kampirtepa on a small clay soil”. In the “Numismatics” section you will study the history and value of coins of the different historical periods. In the section “Pottery” you can learn about the history and methods of making national pottery. In the “Embroidery” section you will learn how to embroider skullcaps. In the section “Fine Arts” they can not only learn about creating paintings, but also try to create paintings, miniatures and so on. In the section “The Gifts of Uzbekistan”, children learn about the cultivation of various vegetables and fruits, corn, cotton and silkworms in the country.

The Children’s Museum also has a “Puppet Theatre”, which displays an antique collection of traditional costumes and traditional Uzbek puppets collected over 110 years, and allows children to stage plays themselves by choosing their favourite puppet character.

This part of the museum is very important for children to acquire knowledge and practical skills in different aspects of scientific, cultural and economic life, and promotes great love and respect for knowledge, for work and for their homeland.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Namozgoh Mosque

Tashkent - Namozgoh Mosque

Namozgoh Mosque is a part of the famous Islamic centre of Tashkent, Hast Imam Square, which in the past served as a land area where people gathered during the great religious festivals.

The construction of the whole religious complex began in the XVI century, its present part is the mausoleum of Abubakr Muhammad Kaffal Shashi, the most revered Imam in Tashkent. The holy square was also named after him.

The Namozgoh Mosque was built in 1865 and has since been the largest mosque in Tashkent, where prayers are held on the holidays of Ramadan and Kurban Hayit. Since 1971 it has housed the Islamic Institute of Tashkent. In recent years, this architectural monument has undergone some minor changes.

The Namozgoh Mosque in Tashkent was later rebuilt as the Hazrati Imam Mausoleum, the Muyi-Muborak Medrese and the Barakkhan Medrese, which were built in the XVI century. The construction of the mosque lasted from 1845 to 1865, before Tashkent was conquered by Russia, it was built for the Khans of Kokand who conquered the city in the same century.

The ruler of the Kokand Khanate in the mid-19th century was Khudoyar Khan, whose lineage goes back to the Uzbek dynasty of the Ming Dynasty. His reign saw ups and downs, loss and restoration of power. Tashkent joined the Kokand Khanate in 1807-1808 years before Hudojar-khan ascended to the throne, but this is precisely when the construction of the Namozgoh shrine began in 1845 after his first accession.

The construction of the place of worship lasted until 1865, after which war broke out between Russia and Kokand and the city was captured by Russian troops led by Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Chernyaev. The mosque was not destroyed despite the hostilities and one could always come here to attend Friday or holiday prayers.

The mosque remained a place of worship until the revolution of 1917, when it was destroyed and looted. Restoration of the mosque only began in the 1970s and Sheikh Ziauddinhan ibn Eshon Babahan, who at the time was Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, took control of the process.

In 1971, the Sheikh applied to the Soviet authorities for permission to open a college on the grounds of the shrine; it was immediately named after Imam al-Bukhari, who was a famous Islamic theologian.

The institute was established on the basis of the courses opened in 1970 for the advanced training of Imam Khatibs. During the Soviet period, the Institute was the only higher Islamic educational institution in the Soviet Union that trained Muslim clerics for the European part of the country, Central Asia, Siberia, Kazakhstan and the Caucasus.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the educational institution on the grounds of the shrine was renamed the “Islamic Institute of Tashkent” and is now under the administration of the Muslims of Uzbekistan. Since the 2000s, graduates of the institute have been awarded a bachelor’s degree.

The institute trains Imame-Khatibs, Islamic scholars and teachers of the Arabic language. Religious studies, political science, history of religions and history of Uzbekistan, ecology, a range of theological sciences, various languages, eloquence, literature and calligraphy are taught. Arabic and Uzbek are used in teaching.

The mosque is an elongated structure, at the moment it faces the courtyard of the institute, its dimensions are 56 by 15 metres, the traditional oriental style was used for its design. The sanctuary is crowned by a blue dome that extends to the sky and is decorated with patterned window grilles made of ganch and ornamental painting. The winter premise of the sanctuary is the cruciform hall overlapping a high dome on either side, from which two rows of four-bay arched dome galleries extend. Parallel to them, the column aivan is spanned by a tree.

The builders used burnt bricks to construct the walls of the mosque. The decorations of the interiors are missing, the only detail being the mihrab niche of the main hall, it is shallow and has small dimensions, and stalactite mukarnas in the arch. The vault itself is decorated with a carved panjara.

For many years, locals have passed on the legend that the golden hair of the Prophet Muhammad lies within the walls of the sacred place. This story enjoys great popularity and attracts crowds of tourists from far away to the mosque, as well as pilgrims from all parts of the world. Every year, the shrine is visited by thousands of religious people who want to hear the sacred hadiths in person, but also to commemorate great thinkers and touch ancient history.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Roman Catholic Cathedral

Tashkent - Roman Catholic Cathedral

The high towers, openwork details, arched elements, stained glass windows and an elongated structure towards the top – this is how one can describe the architecture of Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Tashkent. The second name of the sacred building – Polish Church – has become more popular than the first.

Construction of the cathedral began in 1912, and the architect who designed the building at that time was a Pole named Ludwig Panchakiewicz. The labour force for the construction were Catholic soldiers who had served in the army in the East. Most of them were highly qualified specialists. In addition, prisoners from the camp near Tashkent participated in the construction. From them they selected the specialists in sculpture and engineering.

During the years of the revolution, the architect and main initiator of the construction of the church Father Pranaitis died. The leadership of the continuation of the work was taken over by another abbot. But with the arrival of the Bolshevik government, the construction was frozen. The main reason was the lack of sponsorship.

During Soviet rule, the unfinished building of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was not used for its intended purpose. The church was not only a camp, but also a dormitory and even a hospital. This ruthless exploitation left a sad mark: some of the sculptures were stolen, others were destroyed and damaged.

It was not until the late 1970s that the authorities began restoring the sacred building. Thanks to the combined efforts of the architects and engineers, the restoration did not take that long. After its completion, the church was entrusted to the care of the local Ministry of Culture. And in the 1980s, the building was officially recognised as a monument of architecture and history.

In 1992, the government of the independent republic decided to give the cathedral to the city’s Catholics. A year later, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Tashkent underwent another restoration. Engineer Aleksandr Ponomarev and architect Sergei Adamov led the entire process.

October 2000 was significant for the Catholic community in the Uzbek capital as the church was consecrated by Archbishop Marian Oles.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Tashkent is impressive not only for its architecture but also for its interior decoration. Visitors step over the threshold into a spacious room lined with marble tiles and granite. Such workmanship creates an atmosphere of grandeur and triumph.

The two-storey building consists of several rooms:

  • The oldest is the crypt chapel, whose construction dates before 1916. The room is used for Holy Mass (weekdays only).
  • The St. John Paul II room is used for church meetings and lectures. It is named after the Pope.
  • The largest area is occupied by the Hall of St Anthony of Padua. Here you can see a huge mosaic panel and a sculpture of St Anthony made by the master Adamov.
  • However, the centrepiece of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Tashkent is the hall on the second floor. The room impresses with a 2-metre-high bronze statue of Jesus Christ floating above the floor. On the right side of the sculpture is a confessional. Above the altar is a 26-voice organ. The hall is used for choir concerts and Sunday services.

If you thoroughly examine the grounds around the Roman Catholic Church, you will find a memorial plaque listing the names of those who died in the Second World War.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Sheikhantahur ensemble

Tashkent - Sheikhantahur ensemble

The area of Sheikhantahur Ensemble is located in Tashkent between Abdullah Kadiri and Alisher Navoi streets. The ensemble consists of three mausoleums: the mausoleum of Sheikh Khovendi at-Takhur, the mausoleum of Kaldirgachbai and the mausoleum of Yunus-Khan.

Sheikhantahur was born at the end of the XIIIth century in the family of Khojjah in the mountain village of Bogustan, where the waves of the Charvak reservoir rush today. His father, Sheikh Omar, was a descendant of the second righteous Caliph Omar. People believed that Sheikh Omar was able to work miracles and rule over the elements. It was as if the supreme grace had passed from him to his son as well. The young Sheikhantahur understood the truths of the Sufis. According to biographers, the Tashkent Sufi was particularly impressed by the truth: “High spiritual qualities and knowledge in science are directly proportional to the patience and gentleness of a sage in relation to the rudeness of the ignorant”. The Sheikh lived and preached in Tashkent and died between 1355 and 1360. According to legend, the mausoleum over his grave was built on the initiative of Amir Temur. It is a two-chambered low building under two domes of different heights. The building got its modern appearance after numerous restorations and reconstructions at the beginning of the 19th century. Inside there are three tombstones, one under the large dome and two under the small dome. The mausoleum preserves the only one of the forty-eight Saurus of Iskander planted by Alexander the Great. The petrified conifer is located inside the mausoleum right next to the majestic tombstone of the Sheikh.

It is worth noting that the Sheikhantahur family included many prominent residents of Tashkent, including the famous preacher of the Temurid period, Ubaidullah Hodja Akhror (1404-1490) and an independent ruler of Tashkent in the second half of the XVIII century, Yunus Hoedja. Near the mausoleum of Sheikhantahur, another mausoleum survived until our days – Mazar Kaldyrgach-bay. This architectural monument of the XV century is clearly distinguished from other buildings of the complex by the characteristic shape of a pyramidal dome and reminds of mazars of the Kazakh steppes. In fact, under the vaults of this mausoleum rest the remains of Tole-bai, a Kazakh statesman of Kazakh origin. Together with the people of Tashkent, Tole-bai succeeded in driving the Changar-Malmyk invader out of Central Asia. Tole-bai appointed as his confidant in Tashkent Yunus-khojah, the Chokim of Shaikhantakhur, who became an independent ruler of the state of Tashkent after his death.

Another preserved mausoleum of the complex from the late XV. Century is the mausoleum of Yunus-khan, a Mogol poet and warrior, the maternal grandfather of Bobur. The building has been restored several times, it is a rare type of khanaka in T-shape with a high revak on top of the façade.

Today, the Sheikhantahur ensemble in Tashkent continues to retain its value as an outstanding architectural and pilgrimage monument. The beauty and scenic beauty of this corner of the city has inspired poets and painters.

Places of interest

Tashkent - the Assumption Cathedral

Tashkent - the Assumption Cathedral

The Assumption Cathedral is the Orthodox Cathedral of the Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in Tashkent. The head of the cathedral is Archbishop Vikenty of Tashkent and Uzbekistan. Next to the cathedral is the diocesan administration and the Orthodox Centre.

In the 60s of the XIX century in Central Asia was a military campaign, which led to the need for a military hospital. A cemetery was built nearby with a temporary small church consecrated in the name of the great martyr and healer Panteleimon.

On the site of this church in the cemetery, construction of the cathedral began in 1877. The hospital director asked for the church to be enlarged as the congregation was growing and the small building could not accommodate all the parishioners. The necessary sum for the construction was raised through the efforts of the citizens. The largest funds came from the Governor General and the wealthy merchant Dmitry Zoho. It was he who held the position of overseer in the constructed temple for more than 10 years.

The church was consecrated after its completion in January 1879. St. Panteleimon, the great martyr, was declared the patron saint of the church. The three-storey stone bell tower is located near the new building.

As the church was originally built on the site of the cathedral in the military hospital of Tashkent, locals still call it the “hospital church”.

The 1920s brought a renewal in the life of the temple, it became the property of the renewed Synod of the Orthodox Church. In the 1930s, the church was closed and services were cancelled. Until the end of the Second World War it was used as a base for the medical camp of the local military district. After the war, it was decided to open the church to the faithful for viewing again, and the rededication was carried out in 1958. After the consecration, there was a solemn five-minute peal in all the churches of the diocese. The reborn church was called the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the same time, the cathedral became a cathedral. Bishop Yermogen of Tashkent and Central Asia introduced some architectural changes during his tenure – the cathedral was considerably enlarged.

During the years of the Republic’s independence, work was carried out to remodel the dome and part of the bell tower of the cathedral. The area began to be refined and expanded. Many resources and efforts were made to decorate the interior of the temple. Divine Liturgy was held in this cathedral by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II during his visit to Tashkent. The Divine Liturgy on this momentous day ended with a religious procession.

The development and modernisation of the temple does not stand still – in 2014 another building was erected for the funeral service of the deceased – the Temple of St Luke of Crimea. This famous saint and surgeon lived and served in Tashkent in 1917-1938.

In 2016, extensive renovation work was carried out on the cathedral complex. Meanwhile, the entire building complex in Tashkent includes the Assumption Cathedral, the Waterworks, the Baptistry and the Theological Seminary. The territory is greened and has a fountain – you can take a pleasant walk in a small garden. On the south side of the cathedral, in honour of the centenary of the Tashkent diocese, there is a marble plaque listing all the prelate hierarchs who have led the diocese.

The beauty of the Assumption Cathedral, which is a combination of blue and gold colours, was noted by travellers from Tashkent. The building is in the style of classicism, decorated with white décor, and inside there is an unusually large chandelier. The bell tower, which was reconstructed at the end of the last century, now has 5 floors and impresses with its openwork architecture. In front of the entrance to the site is a triple arch with decorations and a golden dome.

Travellers should bear in mind that photography is prohibited inside the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Mother of God.

Places of interest

Tashkent - TV Tower

Tashkent - TV Tower

Every city has its own calling card and Tashkent is no exception. You can see it from afar, and to look at the man-made creation, all you have to do is look up from below. This is the TV Tower of Tashkent – one of the most beautiful and tallest TV towers in Central Asia.

In the 1960s, television and radio took a firm place in Uzbekistan’s cultural life. The first 180-metre-high Uzbek television centre, built in 1957, could no longer fully cover the four million people in the capital and the Tashkent region. In addition, there was a need to extend radio and television broadcasts to the distant mountain regions.

On 1 September 1971, the Department for the Construction of the Tashkent Radio and Television Centre was established under the Ministry of Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan (now the Republican Agency for Communications and Information). Preparations for a new television tower project were started in a short time. The project was thoroughly studied and tested, as the construction of such a skyscraper was unprecedented.

Finally, in 1978, the construction of the new Tashkent TV Tower began. All the necessary materials were carefully studied, technological requirements and standards were observed. The steel equipment was delivered to Tashkent from Germany.

The durability of any construction depends, of course, on the foundation. The four columns of the TV tower and the three attached pylons were raised from a depth of 11 metres and rest on unbonded reinforced concrete foundations, creating a classic system capable of maintaining a very high balance.

The construction of the TV tower was carried out by the builders of the “11-Balandqurilish” department. The authors of the project were Y.P. Semashko, N.G. Terziev-Tsarukov and its designers were E.P. Morozov and M.D. Musheev. It took six years to build the tower. The task of the specialists was to erect the tallest building in the whole of Central Asia and at the same time to solve all the problems.

Severe winter conditions in 1984-85, an altitude of 480 metres above sea level, regular winds and the ascent of the equipment made it difficult to measure the slope accurately. Nevertheless, the builders succeeded.

The tower was built with a special crane that can lift 25 tonnes of cargo to a height of 240 metres. The TV tower is also equipped with three fast Swiss Shindler lifts, which have not yet been used in our country and can reach a height of 220 metres.

On 15 January 1985, the flag began to flutter at the highest point of the building. The activity of the Tashkent TV Tower is unthinkable without its departments and special workshops. The centre has more than a dozen workshops, television and radio stations in the Tashkent region.

The height of the television tower is 375 metres, it is equipped with the most modern technology and equipment for radio and television broadcasting. The total weight of the construction is over – 6,000 tonnes.

The lobby of the TV Tower is decorated with richly ornamented mosaic panels and models of the tallest towers in the world. The Tashkent TV Tower takes the tenth place among them.

Anyone can climb up to the viewing platform and visit the “Koinot” restaurant at a height of 110 metres. The restaurant has two halls: “Blue” in national style and “Red” in European style. There you can sit at a table on a special rotating platform and admire breathtaking views of Tashkent from a bird’s eye view. At night, the tower shimmers with thousands of lights and fascinates with its beauty and grandeur – the symbol of human labour and technical progress.

Places of interest
Zangiota-Komplex in Tashkent

Tashkent - Zangiota Complex

Tashkent - Zangiota Complex

The Zangiota Complex (Zangi-ata, Zangi-ota) is one of the oldest structures in Tashkent. The complex is located 15 km from Tashkent in the small town of Zangiota. The complex was built in the centuries XIV-XIX. For several centuries the ensemble was rebuilt and extended with new buildings.

The mausoleum contains the remains of the great Sheikh Oy-Khodja Zangi-Ota. This nickname translates as “Dark Father”, which he received because of his earthy complexion. Zangiota was a great Sufi who was known and revered by the people both during his lifetime and after his death. The Sheikh was born into a noble Arab family in the late 12th century and preached the Islamic faith until his last days. Oy-Khodja was brought to train the Sufi sheikh Ahmad Yassawi, who was recognised as the spiritual leader of all Turkic tribes in Central Asia. During his life, Zangiota did much for the education and development of Islam among the people, as earned respect of the believers. Therefore, after his death, the ruler Amir Temur decided to build a memorial complex for the great sheikh.

The mausoleum of Zangiota is a popular place of pilgrimage not only for Uzbek Muslims but also for believers from other countries.

It is a custom in the families of Tashkent to bring a charitable gift to the Zangiota complex for every twelve years of life (aged 12, 24, 36 and more). It usually contains: 2 metres of white cloth, a packet of tea, a white headscarf, a kilogram of sugar and ingredients needed to cook pilaf.

In the 1990s, the number of people wanting to visit the mausoleum increased significantly, so it was decided to carry out a major reconstruction of the dilapidated complex.

The memorial complex is divided into three territorial zones. The first zone includes buildings constructed in the XIV-XIX centuries, the second zone houses the cemetery with the mausoleum of Anbar-ona, the wife of the great Sufi, while the third zone is for the addition of an extensive garden. The main zone houses the buildings such as the mausoleum of Zangiota, the mosque, the minaret and the associated courtyard.

You can enter the complex through the door, which is located in a large portal decorated with colourful mosaic. It is laid out in patterns and completed with Arabic ligature. The portal was built during the reign of Mirzo Ulugbek, the grandson of Temur. In addition, the entrance is adorned by two towers to the right and left of it. In the southern part of the complex there is a mosque built in the 19th century by a local judge.

In the XVIII-XIX centuries, a new building of the Muslim theological school, called Madrasa, was added to the ensemble of buildings. It has a square perimeter and used burnt bricks as material for its construction. The building has a trapezoidal courtyard where the windows of the students’ cells used to be.

The main attraction of the complex is the Zangiota mausoleum itself, it consists of several chambers. The appearance of the stone tombstone, decorated with magnificent artistic carvings, has been preserved since its construction. On it are inscriptions in Arabic, namely quotations from the Koran and traditional Muslim wishes. An asphalt path leads from Zangiota’s memorial to his wife’s mausoleum. The second funerary complex was built at the end of the XIV-beginning of the XV century. It is a one-chamber building made of brick.

The wife of the venerable Sheikh Anbar-ona is considered the patron saint of women and mothers. Muslim women come to her tomb and ask for children or prosperity in the family. In order for their wishes to come true, they have to walk clockwise around the mausoleum 3 times (nothing to do with Islam, in Islam such rituals are forbidden).

There is an atmosphere of triumph and serenity on the territory of the complex. Due to the many fountains, artificial springs and trees, it is always cool, the paths and lawns are well-kept and the grass is mown regularly. For the comfortable stay of pilgrims, there are places to rest in the form of benches and cosy pavilions, car park, tea house. You should come here at least for a few hours to have a quiet look at all the structures, feel the atmosphere of the sacred place and learn more about the traditions and culture of Uzbekistan.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Zayniddin Bobo Mausoleum

Tashkent - Zayniddin Bobo Mausoleum

This mausoleum in Tashkent is dedicated to Sheikh Zayniddin Bobo (Zaynid-Din-bobo) – the son of Sheikh Shahobiddin Abu Khavs, the head of the Sufis in Baghdad, “the Sheikh of the Sheikhs” – the founder of the school that later included Shamsiddin Kulol, the spiritual advisor of Emir Taraghai – Temur’s father and Temur himself.

Sheikh Zayniddin was born in the year 1214. The legend, written down from the words of the guardian of the mausoleum, says that Sheikh Shahobiddin Zayniddin Bobo came from Baghdad to Tashkent 600 years ago on the instructions of his father and lived in Chillakhona. After his death, his followers built a small mausoleum (Chortak) over his grave.

Later Amir Temur rebuilt the Chortak, there were 3-4 more repairs. On the site of the existing building was an old Chortak ruin from the end of the XIV century, the remains of which lie below the existing building. The walls below date from the 16th century. The upper part of the building from the sails and above, as well as the portal, were extensively rebuilt at the end of the 19th century.
The mausoleum is a multi-chambered longitudinally axial four-portal domed building with a highly developed peschtak, which highlights the south-eastern façade as the main façade.

A large square hall enclosed within the rectangular prism of the main building, cruciform in plan by the four deep niches in the centres of the walls. The hall is blocked by the double dome. With a high inner cylindrical drum.

The fine details are decorated with the patterns of arts and crafts: double-leaf carved wooden door covered with vegetative ornaments. Above it a window with wooden lattice (panjara): a wide frame with a fine lattice, in the central panel – a round star girikh, built on an equilateral triangle.

The lattice of ganch (panjara), a variety of designs decorate large and small window openings of secondary facades.

The dimensions of the building: the overall plan of 16 x 18 m, the height to the apex of the dome – 20.7 m, the height of the portal – 14.5 m.

The inscriptions of the mausoleum are from later times and refer to its repairs. On the wooden door frame is engraved: “The master Mir Sharab Abdu Mumin Öghli”, the date is cut off.

In the inscription above the southwest corner of the doorway is the date of the major repairs – 1339 AH (1920-1921). This repair and the subsequent one of 1927 have disfigured the appearance of the monument. The peshtak was once covered with glazed tiles. Fragments of majolica tiles were found in the rubble during the excavations.

The oldest component of the mausoleum is the chillakhona, which was built of bricks from the XI-XII century. The fact that the bricks were used in the XI-XII century indicates that they were used at the beginning of the XIII century.

The lower parts of the Chillakhona have survived to our times, while the Chortak above the Sheikh’s tomb apparently collapsed and was probably rebuilt later on Temur’s orders, according to legend.

The Chillakhona is the space for the forty-day fast. It was so “embedded” in the ground that only the dome with the lantern of light remained on the surface.

The Chillakhona consists of two horizontally arranged rooms: the upper one is octagonal with a mihrab niche on one of its southwest sides, while the lower one is also octagonal but with much smaller dimensions.

The lower room can be reached via a special staircase and a corridor arranged at right angles.

Places of interest

Tashkent - Zoo

Tashkent - Zoo

The Zoo in Tashkent is one of the most popular places for outings with children in the capital of Uzbekistan. The Zoo in Tashkent was founded in 1924 on the territory of the former menagerie of 3 hectares on the country house of one of the authorities. Despite the small territory, the park developed and improved, and by 1940 its collection of animals numbered about 200 species. Half a century later, in 1994, the construction of a new zoo was started, the territory of which was located next to the Botanical Garden. In 1997, the zoo moved to a new location and opened its renewed areas to the public.

Today, the area of Tashkent Zoo is 21.5 hectares and houses 373 species of animals. There are 12 animal exhibits and a contact zoo for visitors. The new grounds have large enclosures for the animals, including large winter enclosures. There are artificial lakes and fountains, waterfalls and a water channel, a large pond with a beautiful bridge, and numerous resting places and animal sculptures in a pleasant green area.

Tashkent Zoological Park has more than 10 exhibitions of animals – “Aquarium”, “Terrarium”, “Primates”, “Parrots”, “Birds”, “Birds of Prey”, “Waterfowl”, “Ungulates”, “Invertebrates”, “Small Mammals”, “Vivarium”, “Animal Breeding Station”, “Contact Zoo”, “Butterfly House”. Near the entrance is the so-called children’s corner, where small birds and animals are kept.

One of the buildings “Climatron” unites 4 exhibitions where there is a comfortable climate for animals – the aquarium, the terrarium, the primates and the section with exotic birds. The zoo’s aquarium contains about 100 cubic metres of seawater and about 200 cubic metres of freshwater. Both freshwater and saltwater creatures swim in it, including elephant fish, tiger perch, black pacu and the Nyasa kingfish. The total number of waterbird species is about 165 species. There is also plenty to admire among the more than 50 species of terrarium inhabitants, including a variety of snakes, turtles, geckos, eulypharas, iguanas, agamas, skinks and crocodiles.

The primate species at the zoo are represented by macaques and gibbons, mandrills and lapwings, and the cat lemur. While visitors enjoy watching them, there is also the reverse reaction – they also enjoy watching the visitors. Exotic birds include a large number of parrots in a variety of colours and species.

The predators are among the most popular zoo inhabitants. The Tashkent Zoological Park is home to various species of bears, wolves, jackals, foxes, tigers and lions. Among the birds living there are more than 30 different species – birds of prey such as buzzards, vultures, griffon vultures, condors, saker falcons, hawks, eagles, golden eagles, as well as the cute ostriches, peacocks and emus. Small mammals are a separate exhibit. These include hedgehogs, nutria, hamsters, marmots, maras, squirrels, rabbits, porcupines, mice, guinea pigs, badgers and a small fat lory.

The ungulate group is also very cute and popular with visitors – amazing kangaroos, big elephants, fallow deer and llamas, yaks and deer, rams and goats, hippos and camels and a long, humble giraffe.

The waterfowl enclosures with swans, geese, herons, pelicans, quacks and other birds are fenced in and shaded by large trees. The butterfly house is one of the most visited places in the zoo. Large and small inhabitants with their beautiful wings fly here among the greenery, the waterfalls and the visitors. There is also a small pond with colourful fish in the butterfly house.

On the territory of the zoo there are a lot of different additional services and entertainment for children and adults:

  • Café and various outlets selling drinks, ice cream and other treats
  • Shop with toys and souvenirs
  • Children’s playgrounds
  • A large entertainment zone and attractions for children near the
    pond (rental of electric cars, trampolines, merry-go-round)
  • Rental of catamarans
  • Shooting range
  • Pony, horse and camel rides
  • Carriage ride
  • Ride on a steam train through the zoo
  • Excursions
  • Photo shoots with animals
  • Pram rental

Places of interest
Minarett in Vabkent

Vabkent - Minaret

Vabkent - Minaret

The minaret in Vabkent is located in the city of Vabkent, Vabkent district, Bukhara region. Specialist literature mentions its similarity to the Kalon minaret of Bukhara, but the size is smaller and the decoration of the minaret of Vabkent is worse.

From the outside, the minaret is covered with polished bricks arranged in staggered order. Under the minaret’s lantern is an inscription made of carved terracotta covered with glaze.

The inscription states that the minaret was built by Bukhara Sadr Burkhan ad-Din Abd-al Aziz II in 595 AH (1198 – 1199). The tall minaret can be seen from afar on the way into the city.

The minaret in Vabkent is one of the most refined creations of Uzbekistan’s architecture from the end of the XIIth century. Century. The date of the beginning of construction (1196 – 1197) can be read under the Kufi inscriptions in the lower decorative step surrounding the tower.

And on the upper tier, it is written in “Diwani” handwriting: “This minaret was built in the months of 595”. The minaret in Vabkent has poorer fittings and is 7 metres lower than the Kalon minaret in Bukhara.

However, the slimmer proportions of the hull make the minaret in Vabkent appear taller and more graceful than the Kalon minaret. The minaret is staggered on the outside and clad with cut bricks.

Under the lantern is a glazed inscription in carved terracotta. The minaret is almost 39 m high, 6.2 m in diameter at the bottom and 2.8 m at the top. The ascending slender trunk of the huge column is crowned by a multi-arched lantern with a magnificent stalactite cornice at the base and at the top.

One can only reach this rotunda via the spiral staircase. The trunk of the minaret is decorated with ornamental belts (figurative masonry, carved terracotta with epigraphic and geometric ornaments), between which run smooth fields of facing.

It is laid out in pairs of bricks with inserts between them of vertical “arches” and punctiform bricks, different on all floors. Each is pleasing to the eye in its own way.

The remarkable uniformity of composition here is achieved through refined interpretations of the basic method.