Visiting the Registan in Samarkand, the most famous square of Uzbekistan
The ancient and legendary Samarkand, a UNESCO heritage site since 2001, is one of the cities that struck us most thanks to its extraordinary Islamic architecture which includes mosques with sparkling minarets, finely decorated madrasahs, and mausoleums where important historical figures rest. Among the many attractions, the most iconic place in the city is undoubtedly the Registan, the central square and heart of Samarkand. Registan square was a crucial point along the Silk Road and was used as a public square for royal proclamations, celebrations and public executions. It dates back to 1417 and was built by the will of Ulugh Bek, Tamerlane’s nephew and famous astronomer, mathematician and philosopher. The square, rectangular in shape and very elongated, is framed by three splendid madrasas, ancient Koranic schools where the Islamic religion was taught.
Ulugh Bek Madrasah
On the left side is the Ulugh Bek Madrasah, dating back to the 15th century and the first madrasah to be erected in Samarkand. Built under the mandate of Ulugh Bek, and where the scientist himself taught, this imposing building features a 16-meter pisteqh (central door) and two tall minarets on either side. The facade and the interior of the structure are finely decorated with wonderful glazed ceramic coatings. Paying a small fee, you can reach the second floor of the madrasah to enjoy a beautiful view of the square itself and Samarkand. If you like, you can also reach the top of the minaret, but the stairs are really narrow and we do not recommend it.
Tilya Kori Madrasah
The Tilya-Kori Madrasa is the central one and dates back to the 17th century. The building has a 2-story main facade, a courtyard surrounded by dormitories and a mosque in the western section of the courtyard. The madrasa was used as a student residence, but the old dormitories have been transformed into small souvenir shops. Tilya Kori means “madrasa covered in gold”, and owes its name to the splendid interior golden decorations. Inside the madrasah, there is an interesting black and white photographic exhibition that portrays the crumbling structures of Samarkand that fell into disrepair after centuries of neglect and numerous earthquakes that have damaged the city.
Sher Dor Madrasah
The Sher-Dor Madrasah is the third madrasah in the square and was built in the 15th century with the aim of imitating the beauty of Ulugh Bek’s madrasah. Sher means lion and the name of the madrasa derives from the images that overlook the entrance door: two large lions carrying a sun with a humanized face on their backs. The peculiarity of the images is that they violate an Islamic precept that prohibits the painting of images of living beings on religious buildings. The structure features beautiful turquoise domes, interiors completely covered with fantastic polychrome decorations, and is flanked by two tall minarets.
Registan opening time: it opens every day from April to October from 8.00 to 19.00 and November to March from 9.00 to 17.00. If you have time, it is really worth seeing Registan Square at night when all the madrasah are illuminated (until 10 pm). Admission 40.000 USZ.