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  Tashkent   Samarkand   Khiva   Bukhara   Termez  

“Precious Pearl of the Orient”, “Oriental Rome”, “Dazzling star of the World” – that is how Samarkand was called for already 2500 years.
A rich city with developed culture, trade and crafts attracted many conquerors.
Alexander the Great made his way towards this city – the capital of Sogdiana – in the 4th Century B.C., after conquering Bactria.
Since the beginning of the 8th Century Samarkand became an important centre of Muslim culture.
But in the 13th Century the city was almost fully destroyed by the Mongolian ruler named Genghis-Khan.
In the 14th Century Samarkand became the capital of Timur’s Empire, spreading from Syrdarya River to Gang and Bosporus
Registan square became the centre of Samarkand since the times of Timur’s ruling.
There was a time when the heralds announced good deeds and stern decrees of the ruler to the townspeople supported by the sounds of huge copper trumpets.
At the moment there are three madrasahs towering above the Registan Square. One of them – Ulugbek’s Madrasah – was erected back in the 15th Century, following the instructions of the scientist himself. That was a true temple of science.
Ulugbek, the grandson of Emir Timur, was a great scientist and encyclopedic expert, and at the age of 15 he became the ruler of Samarkand.
His contemporary wrote: “Ulugbek was a Padishah – a scientist, he was fair, powerful and generous. The expertise of scientists was at a very high level during his times and merited scientists held important position. In geometry he was similar to Euclid, in astronomy – to Ptolemy…”

At the foothills, north-east from Aphrosiab ancient settlement, there remained a part of observatory, which was constructed by Ulugbek in the 15th Century. A giant double meridian arc with the radius of over 40 meters was its main instrument.
The lower part of the arc was located in the rock, in a trench 11 meters deep.
In the epoch when there were no optical means for observation, this instrument provided unique accuracy in defining the position data of Sun and planets.
The famous astronomical charts, containing position data for over 1000 stars became the paramount outcome of these researches. The charts were widely used by the scientists in all countries of the world, and in the 17th Century they were published in Oxford.
It is written in the textbooks that the difference between the duration of the year, identified through the ancient calculations of Ulugbek, and duration of the year as calculated by the modern high-accuracy devices makes only one minute.
“Bibi-Khanym” Mosque was built in the 14th Century. It was the biggest mosque in Central Asia.
The following was said about it: “Its dome would be the only one, if the sky did not repeat it. Its arc would be the only one, if the Milky Way was not its pair”.

Gur-Emir Mausoleum is a family burial-vault of Timurids – it is the most famous monument of Samarkand.
There is a famous throne stone called Kok-Tash on the territory of the yard, which was brought from the citadel. The representatives of this great dynasty were crowned on this stone.
At first the Gur-Emir Mausoleum was intended for burial of the beloved grandson of Timur – Muhammad Sultan.
But later on Timur was also buried there, as well as his sons and grandsons.
Another grandson of his – Ulugbek – also lies there. It should be noted that the headstone of Emir Timur is located at the feet of his spiritual mentor – Sheikh Said Barak. It was done according to the will of Emir Timur. It shows how great respect to the Teacher in the East is.
Imam Al-Bukhari was born in 810 in Bukhara, but he died and was buried near Samarkand in 870.
Imam Al-Bukhari undertook titanic efforts selecting khadises, in order to screen unreliable ones and preserve the true words of Prophet for the descendants.
During his work we verified around six hundred thousand khadises, and included a little bit more than one hundredth of them into the group of reliable ones. In order to do that he had developed and applied the classification principles depending on the source.
As testified by the contemporaries, Al-Bukhari had unique memory skills: for him it was enough to read a book only once in order to remember its content by heart.
Sixteen years of intensive labor resulted in the collection of the most reliable khadises called “Al-Jomi As-Sahih”. For 12 centuries this book is considered to be the second source of information after Koran in Islamic world.
In the sixteenth century a small mausoleum was erected above the modest grave of Imam. A mosque was built and planes were planted nearby. Several years ago, due to the celebrations of anniversary of Imam’s birthday, a memorial complex was constructed on the place of ancient mausoleum.

In the suburbs of Samarkand, on the slope of Aphrasiab hill, there spreads Shakhi-Zinda architectural ensemble. This magnificent ensemble had been erected for hundreds of years – eleven mosques one after another. The mosques are located on both sides of a narrow ancient street.
There are magic stairs in Shakhi-Zinda.
They say that one must count the steps when he goes up, and then count them again when he goes down. And if the number of steps will be the same, it means that having visited the Shakhi-Zinda, a person is released from all his sins.
On the entrance to the Shakhi-Zinda crypt, which gave the name to the entire ensemble, it is inscribed: “This magnificent construction was created by Abdulazizkhan, the son of Ulugbek-Guragan, the son of Shakhrukh, the son of Emir Timur-Guragan in 838”.
“Shakhi-Zinda” means “living king”. It is believed that the remains of Mohammed Kusam Ibn-Abbas, the cousin of Prophet Muhammad, lie here. The close relatives of Timur are also buried here.
Throughout the centuries this ancient city was constantly involved into the maelstrom of impetuous and sometimes tragic events. The periods of brilliant prosperity was altered by the periods of decay.
But the city was reviving and becoming even more magnetic.

© Sharqintour