A lot of medressas
Samarkand Travel Blog› entry 378 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
On the five hour bus journey to Samarkand we didn't stop for a break, so we took the opportunity to buy some samosas through the bus window, when we stopped to drop off some passengers. This would prove to be a costly mistake as i ended up catching food poisoning for the umpteenth time in Central Asia. Just when i thought our luck may have turned, it was like taking a kick in the guts - quite literally!
Once again we stayed at Bahodir B&B and i spent the first night drinking some beers with a Canadian guy called Julian. I knew in the night that i wasn't feeling great, but it was the next morning when it really sunk in that i was rather sick again.
I was feeling much better on Friday morning, so finally we got to venture into Samarkand and see what all the fuss was about. Our first destination was the imposing Registan, which has three structures that are viewed as some of the World's oldest and most significant medressas. Ulugbek Medressa was the first built and dates back to 1420, whilst the other two were constructed more than 200 years later, under the supervision of the Shaybanid Emir Yalangtush.
It cost 6500 Sum ($5) to go in and we spent an hour looking around the three medressas, and i left impressed with what I saw. Obviously the buildings had received large amounts of restoration, but to imagine that they had even survived the warring factions that had raised the City on several occasions, was testament to the construction techniques of the designers and builders. The most ornate interior was certainly in the Tilla Kari Medressa, although the mosaic tiles were vibrant on all of the buildings.
Leaving the Registan we walked West through the City until we reached the Rukhobod Mausoleum. Although this was neither as large nor colourful as the Registan, it had a simple charm to it. Historically it also holds significance within Samarkand, as it is the oldest surviving monument and dates back to 1380.
Next port of call was the nearby Guri Amir Mausoleum, which was both beautiful and steeped in History. The Mausoleum houses the remains of several important figures from Central Asia's past, including Amir Timur, who reveled in War, devastation and conquest. Timur reigned over much of Central Asia for four decades and made Samarkand the capital of his Empire in 1370. Another important figure that was laid to rest here was his grandson Ulugbek. We never made it inside the building, but settled for a peek through the door and window.
It was a scorching day, so it was quite tiring to walk to the North East of town, especially as Samarkand has a surprising lack of drinking water. I really don't understand the fad of sparkling water, as it not only tastes terrible, but leaves me more thirsty than before i had drunk it. We made do with some coke, but this also seems to dehydrate you more than it does any good.
Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Mausoleum was the next attraction that we came to, and we decided to go in when the ticket seller knocked 50% off the admission price and presumably pocketed the cash, as we didn't get a ticket. The main gate stood at a towering 35 metres and with its completion at the start of the 15th Century, it stood as one of the largest Mosques in the World.
Just a few metres down the road from here was the Hazrat-Hizr Mosque (2500 Sum / $2), located on an idyllic hillside location. The building had been constructed in the 8th Century, but Jenghiz Khan had raised it to the ground during his 13th Century escapades! The creation that is there now dates from 1854, although it had received recent restorations, like every other building in the City! We met some friendly Muslims here who broke off their Koran readings and chatted to us for a while, after which we climbed up the decorative minaret for views over the City.
Heading further North East we had a fleeting glimpse at the Shah-i-Zinda, then continued on to Ulugeks observatory. Both were demanding high entrance and camera fees and from the outside, neither looked any more impressive than what we had already seen. It took 30 minutes to walk back to the centre from here, to bring to an end an interesting and tiring day. We had Dinner at Bahodir's and relaxed in the courtyard before calling it a night.