After the sensory overload of the Registan the rest of Samarkand seemed a bit of an anticlimax. But there were a number of historically significant sights to I wanted to see. Top of the list was Gur-e Amir mausoleum. It was originally intended for Timur’s favourite grandson and heir-apparent, Muhammad Sultan who died unexpectedly. After Timur’s death in battle he was also buried here. The mausoleum eventually became the final resting place for the entire Timurid dynasty including Ulugh Beg who finished the construction.
Very close to Gur-i Amir is a much more modest mausoleum, the Rukhabad. Built in 1380, it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Samarkand and is believed to contain a hair of the prophet Mohammad. Maybe they could auction it on eBay to help pay for all the restorations in Samarkand!
The last site I visited was the impressive Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Built for Timur’s wife, it was completed in 1404 and almost immediately started to crumble as it pushed building technology at the time beyond its limits. Most of what remained collapsed in an earthquake in the late 19th century. So I was a bit dissappointed to find there was very little of the original mosque left – most of what is standing is infact a 20th century reconstruction. Still it is an impressive piece of architecture.
Not surprisingly, I had overdosed on blue-domed mosques and mosaics and they all began to look the same so I gave up and returned to the guesthouse.
I had moved from Bahodir B&B to another guesthouse run by the same family, the Hotel Abdurahmon. This was much newer and much quieter than Bahodir which was party central for the mostly under-30 cyclists and back-packers. But the food at both Bahodir and Abdurahmon was outstanding. One morning we were served quail’s eggs for breakfast. They were half the size of bantam eggs!
But after a couple of lazy days I was getting itchy feet. It was time to leave the splendour of Samarkand and head for that other great ancient city of Central Asia – Bukhara.