Memos from Asia

Pearl of Central Asia: Magnificent Architectural Buildings in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

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“Everything that I heard about Samarkand is all true, absolutely everything! Except is one thing: it turned out to be more beautiful than I could imagine”
Alexander the Great

Fascinating Samarkand

In 2019, the number of tourists who visited Uzbekistan reached 6.7 million (Uz Daily, 2020). Samarkand attracts far more tourists than any city of the Republic.

Why Samarkand is called “Pearl of the East”?

Samarkand is the ancient Silk Road City. The “age” of the historic city is over 2750 years, which is the same as Rome, Athens and Babylon. Moreover, it is older than many famous cities such as Moscow, Seoul and Prague.

The city was called “Land of Scientists” by Europeans, while in Ancient Arab manuscripts the city was called “Pearl of the East”.

Here are the top-rated places to visit in Samarkand:

The Ulugbek Observatory

Museum, Ulugbek’s observatory in Samarkand, Uzbekistan (15 century)

The magnificent cylindrical observatory was built by great astronomer Ulugbek in 15th century, who was the grandson of Temur (Tamerlane), the founder of Temurids Empire.

Ulugbek observatory had the best astronomic tools at the time such as the sextant and armillary sphere.

In the observatory, Ulugbek calculated the length of a one-star year, which was 365 days, 6 hours, 10 minutes and 8 seconds. Surprisingly, the error is only 58 seconds compared to modern data.

Also, Ulugbek produced a catalogue of 1018 stars in his famous book “Ziji Guragon” and calculated the inclination of the ecliptic: 23° 30′ 17″. Only 0° 0′ 32″ difference found in comparison to the latest researches. All the discoveries of Ulugbek were conducted before the invention of the telescope.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan – September 25, 2018: Tourists outside remains of observatory at Mirzo Ulugbek Complex in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

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Registan Square

Registan square is among the most beautiful places in Samarkand. The square is included in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.

The place was surrounded by sand in the past. Hence, the translation of “Registan” means “Sandy Place”.

Three historic madrasahs are located in Registan: Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-dor Madrasah and Tilla-Kori Madrasah. Having an exclusive architectural design, these buildings are the pride of the nation.

Translated from Arabic, madrasah means Islamic education place. However, education processes are stopped by the authority of the Soviet Union in the last century.

Currently, Registan hosts concerts, events and attracts many tourists. For instance, the International Music Festival “Sharq taronalari”(Oriental Songs) takes places in Registan Square each year.

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The Gur-e Amir Mausoleum

View at The Gur-e-Amir Tomb in Samarkand, tomb of Timur imperior.

Gur-e Mausoleum is the final resting place of an Asian conqueror Temur (or Tamerlane), his sons and grandsons. The founder and emperor of the Timurids Empire built the mausoleum for his grandson Muhammad Sulton, who had suddenly died in 1403.

However, the architectural gem is completed in 1424, 19 years after the unexpected death of Temur in Kazakhstan.

Gur-e Amir was built in the style of Central Asian design. Especially, luxurious dome and the wonderful use of tiles gave mausoleum special view.

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Samarkand landmark. Gur Emir Mausoleum in Samarkand, Uzbekistan (tomb of Amir Timur Tamerlan). Mausoleum of the Asian conqueror Timur. Ancient building exterior

The Ancient site of Afrasiab

Ancient Settlement of Afrasiab. Samarkand. Uzbekistan

Afrasiab was an ancient town that was located in the northern part of Samarkand city.

Many people believe that Afrasiab was the capital of ancient Asian Country – Sogdiana.

Afrasiab was destroyed during the invasion of Greeks.

The area of the town was more than 200 hectares. The form of the town was in the shape of the isosceles triangle.

Unfortunately, only the ruins of the famous ancient town were discovered at the end of the 19th century. Jewelry, coins, glassware, and statuettes were found, but the remains of streets were not survived.

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Ancient Settlement of Afrasiab. Samarkand. Uzbekistan

Reference List:

State Committee for Tourism Development. (2020). About 6,748,500 tourists visited Uzbekistan in 2019. Uz Daily. Available from [Accessed 08 August 2020].

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