There ain’t no cure for the Samarkand blues

Yes, this next post was supposed to be about markets, but I haven’t exhausted my supply of Samarkand-based puns yet.

These are photos from the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis. According to Wikipedia,

The name Shah-i-Zinda (meaning “The living king”) is connected with the legend that Qutham ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, is buried here. He came to Samarkand with the Arab invasion in the 7th century to preach Islam. Popular legends speak that he was beheaded for his faith but he didn’t die, took his head and went into the deep well (Garden of Paradise), where he’s still living.

Tombs and mausoleums.
There is a lot of blue tile.

Samarkand, and the Living Is Easy

We recently went to Samarkand, Uzbekistan to visit friends who were working in Tashkent. Samarkand was to be our first stop on a tour of the major Silk Road cities. Let’s see what Samarkand has to offer.

This is Registan Square, the heart of ancient Samarkand. The three madrassahs flanking the square were built between the 15th and 17th centuries.
The square is a popular backdrop for newlyweds having their photo taken.
This is the interior of the left-most madrassah, the Ulugh Beg, built by the astronomer/mathematician sultan of that name in 1417-1420. We had coffee in one of the alcoves–former dormitories that have been converted to shops, cafes, and storage areas.
Detail of the dormitory balconies.
This is the exterior of the Sher-Dor Madrassah, built 1619-1636 by a sultan who does not merit his own Wikipedia page.
One of the unusual features of the Sher-Dor Madrassah is the external façade with its images of faces, tigers and deer. Typically, Islamic art is proscribed from showing living creatures.
The interior is pretty impressive.
The courtyard mosaics are far more interesting than the commerce.

Next: the market.

The view at night is dramatic as well.