Shahrisabz - 'A green city', hometown of Tamerlane


Shakhrisabz is located 90 km south of Samarkand, once a major city of Central Asia, it is primarily known today as the birthplace of Amir Temur.

Shakhrisabz formerly known as Kesh - "heart-pleasing" and tentatively identified with the ancient Nautaca, Shakhrisabz is one of Central Asia’s most ancient cities. Its name was changed to Shakhrisabz later on, from Tajik means "green city".

From the 6th to 4th centuries BC it was a part of Achaemenids empire. Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy captured the satrap of Bactria and pretender to the Persian throne, Bess, thus ending the once great Achaemenids Empire. Alexander the Great chose to spend his winters and met his wife Roxanna in the area in 328-327 BC. From 4th to 8th century Kesh was one of urban centers of Sogdiana, later rulers of Kesh paid tribute to Turkic and Western Turkic Kaganates, till it was invaded by the Arabs.

Shakhrisabz is the birthplace of Amir Temur. Timur regarded Shakhrisabz as his “home town” and planned it eventually to be the location of his tomb. Temur's father Amir Taragai his spiritual adviser Sheikh Shamsiddin Kulol, and his eldest sons Jahangir and Omar Sheikh were buried there. However, during the Timurid period, the center of activity shifted to Samarkand instead.

According to legend, The Khan of Bukhara, Abdullah Khan II had the city destroyed in a fit of rage over the death of his favorite horse from exhaustion on a steep approach the city, but was later overcome with remorse for the damage he had done.

But later Shakhrisabz monument were restored and other monuments were build.

 

Shakhrisabz sights:

  • Ak Saray Palace
  • Kok Gumbaz Mosque
  • Hazrat Imam Complex
  • Mausoleum of Jahangir
  • Tomb of Timur
  • Chorsu Trade Dome

Ak Saray Palace (White Palace).

Ak Saray means "white palace". The term "ak" has also the meaning "generous", "aristocratic" or "majestic". Temur's historian and chronicler Sherifuddin Ali Yazdi reported that the world has not seen a similar building before the point of which extends from earth to the height of heaven. The palace was founded in the hours predicted by astrology. Its construction was begun in 1380 after Temur's conquest of Kunya Urgench in Khorezm. Artisans from Khorezm were brought here to work on the palace and create its rich decoration. In 1396 the construction works were almost completed. The Spanish ambassador Rui Gonzales De Claviho reports that the decoration works still continued in 1404. The dimensions of the building can be perceived when looking at the gate towers: the two towers were 50 m high and had an arch with a span of 22 m. The buildings were destroyed in the 16th century by order of the Bukhara ruler Abdullah Khan. The legend tells that Abdullah Khan was riding to Shakhrisabz and saw the palace at a distance. He sent a messenger to the city as he thought that he was already near of it. The messengers nearly died of exhaustion, but the palace was still far away. The khan got angry and ordered the palace to be destroyed. The architecture of the palace is similar to Khodja Ahmed Yassavi Mausoleum in Turkestan/Kazakhstan which was built on the orders of Temur. Archaeological excavations south of Ak Saray have revealed the rich decorated cover of the floor and rich architectural decoration consisting of majolica, marble and combination of terracotta and ornamental mosaic. Only the piles of the portals are left from Ak-Saray. The piles originally were round towers with spiral stairs inside. Today, the towers are 38 m high. Originally, they reached a height of 50 m. The size of the palace is impressive: the main courtyard was about 120 m wide and 240 m long. Calculations from the proportions of the surviving elements let us assume that the length of the main portal was 70 m and that the towers at the corners were more than 80 m high. The 22 m wide span of the arch of the main entrance was the largest in Central Asia. The mosaic and majolica work in the niche of the portal is particularly refined. The delicate foliage ornamentation also contains calligraphic inscriptions of verses from the Quran as well as a few secular inscriptions. In the middle of the decoration an inscription gives the date of the completion 798 (1395/1396) and the name of the craftsman Muhammad Yusuf Tebrizi from Tabriz/Persia. The legend tells that the architect after Temur had explained his plans started to make foundations blocks from clay mixed with gold. When Temur asked why he did that, the architect answered that he wanted to be sure that Temur was determined to construct a building that required vast expenditures.

 

Dorus Saodat Complex.

Dorus Saodat means "house of power". This vast complex was the burial place of the ruling family and contained a prayer hall, a mosque and accomodation for the religious community and pilgrims. The main facade was decorated with white marble and the tomb of Temur is a masterpiece of art of this period. Dorus Saodat Complex dates from the same time as Ak-Saray. Construction works began in 1379. The idea was to create a monumental building combining tomb, ziaratkhona (common hall for morning ceremonies), mosque, room for clergy, Quran readers and pilgrims. The main facade of the building had a powerful portal and its dome was only a little bit smaller than Ak-Saray. The building of Ak-Saray was intended to turn Shahrizabs into the second capital of the empire. The creation of the Dorus Saodat expressed Temur's wish to turn Shahrizabs into the spiritual center of Movarounahr. Each pile contained a mausoleum. Today only the left part of the portal is preserved, containing the tomb of Jahangir. The buildings of the Dorus Saodat Complex were destroyed by the forces of the Sheybanid ruler Abdullah Khan in the second half of the 16th cent., but the mausoleum of Jahangir survived.  edit

Tomb of Jahangir.

Jahangir was Tamerlane's eldest son who died at the age of 22. The mausoleum consists of a high square room with the arch on the axis. The prototype of this construction was the Mausoleum of Tyurabek Khanum in Kunya Urgench, dating from the 1360s. The mausoleum is also the resting place of Tamerlane’s second son Umar Sheikh who was killed at the age of 29 during the siege of Kurd in Iran. 

Crypt of Tamerlane

 

Tamerlane’s crypt was discovered in 1963 in an underground room. The room is plain except of inscriptions from the Quran on the arches. In the middle of the room is a large stone casket with inscriptions about Temur. It is therefore supposed that the crypt was intended for him. Temur, however, is buried in the Gur Emir Mausoleum in Samarkand. The marble sarcophagus has a large space on the top which was left for the future epitaph of Temur. 

Dorut Tilavat

The Dorut Tilavat (House of meditation) Complex is part of the remains of Temur's memorial ensemble of burials and religious buildings. The buildings were erected mainly during the reign of Ulugbek. This complex contains the graves of Temur's father’s his spiritual master Sheikh Shamsiddin Kulol.    


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