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  • Day31

    Islamic beauty

    June 15 in Uzbekistan ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The Registan takes your breath away by its sheer size and expanse. However, there were 2 building complexes that really impressed me with their architectural beauty.

    Bibi Khanum Mosque was built in honour of Timurlane's chief wife, Saray Mulk Khanum. Financed from the spoils of his campaigns to Delhi (1398) and built with the help of 95 imported Indian elephants, this monumental structure was built in haste. Consequently, the walls started to crumble almost as soon as they were finished. Apparently Timur was so keen to get it built that he tossed gold coins and scraps of barbecued meat to encourage workers. It's been suggested that recent restoration work has been done in a similarly hasty fashion. Regardless, it is still very beautiful. This was also the first place we'd been to where the interior had been left unrestored- it felt somehow more authentic than anything I'd seen previously.

    The second, and even more impressive, is the Shah-I-Zindah, a visually absorbing necropolis. Basically a street lined with tombs of the rich and famous dating from 1372 to 1460, it's simply stunning. The decorations are really what sets this apart as artistically superb. Carved terracotta and majolica tilework is arranged in complex floral designs, with stylized calligraphy framing these images, all in various shades of blue.

    Samarkand certainly lived up to its reputation as a place of exotic romanticism, even in the modern times.
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