“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.