Bukhara is one of the pearls of the Great Silk Road. Bukhara is a unique cultural center of the East. Bukhara remained a blissful oasis, a huge scientific and cultural center on the Great Silk Road.
Age of Bukhara over 2500 years. The establishment of the city is connected with several legends and stories. One of the legends relates that the prince Siyavush arrived in Bukhara, married the daughter of King Afrasiab and built a Arc fortress.
Bukhara was one of the regions of Central Asia - Sogdiana, in the times of Alexander the Great there was a developed urban planning structure. There are different versions of the origin of the name of the city. According to one of them, the word Bukhara means monastery and according to other one it means the abode of knowledge.
Sights of Bukhara
Among many medieval constructions, Samanids Mausoleum is of special interest. It is situated nearby the Registan Square. The world wide famous masterpiece was built in 9th century. Samanids Mausoleum represents a perfect brick cube, covered by hemispherical dome. All facades are absolutely identical and have domical pillars at the corners. These expressive forms have direct interpretation in mythological symbolism of ancient religions, and later Sufism. So, the cube is the symbol of steadiness and Earth; the dome has semblance to the sky; and their combination is the symbol of the unity of the Universe. Each of the four walls has a door built in complex-pattern frame. Depending on the light the appearance of the Samanids Mausoleum changes due to skillful brickwork. The outer and inner facades are lined with figured bricks alternating horizontal columns of bricks with vertical insets which make a fancy motif of network. Lined in a row, brick rings gird the frieze of the mausoleum. This resembles in appearance a famous row of “sasanid pearls”- perforated beads, carved in ganch plaster of palaces in Central Asia and Iran before Arabian period.
This mausoleum of Bukhara is recognized to be a masterpiece of the world architecture for the perfection of its geometric forms. It is one of the most ancient buildings made from burnt bricks in Central Asia.
According to legends this mausoleum was built by Ismail Samanid in the memory of his father. Later it became burial vault for Samanids. The names of Ismail Samanid and his grandson were found on the wood plate above entrance.
Ark fortress is considered to be the most ancient archeological construction in Bukhara. Once upon a time it was governmental center. In the Middle Ages Ark had been an entire city with Emir’s palace, mint, mosques, governmental institutes, storehouses, shops, prison and a square for public meetings contained within it. At those times big leather lash to hang on one of the walls (the symbol of the Emir’s power).
According to legends Ark fortress was built by Siyavush the epical hero of Central Asia. Defamed by his mother in law he had to flee his home town and reached wealthy country stretched out in the desert oasis. Daughter of the king had fascinated Siyavush. The local King asked Siyavush to build a palace fitting into oxhide. Siyavush became cunning than expected and cut oxhide into thin laces and connected them. It took a shape of a circle and a palace fit in. First greeted by local king Siyavush later was murdered by the same person.
Magoki Attari Mosque
Most ancient preserved mosque in Bukhara Magoki Attari in translation means “mosque in the pit”. Before the Arabian conquest, trade market for spices and herbs sellers was established at the site of the mosque. Considerable reconstruction of the monument is attributed to the 12th century when the main façade of the mosque- being the masterpiece of the architectural décor, was encased all over again. In the 16th century this was a small block mosque.
Chashmai Ayub Mausoleum
Chashmai Ayub relates to the honored track places, left as a geritage by sacramental people. According to the historical beliefs, cultic construction had already existed at this location in the 14th century. The inscriptions by the entrance note that the building had been constructed during the rule of Tamerlane. The mausoleum is in the shape of conical marquee and common to Khorezmian architecture. Probably constructors of Chashmai Ayub were from Khorezm.
According to legends inhabitants of the neighborhood of the place where the Mausoleum located suffered from the lack of water and prayed to Lord. Saint Job had appeared in response to the prayers and hit the ground with his magic staff after what appeared a spring.
Poi Kalyan Complex
The Poi Kalyan Complex consists of three architectural constructions: minaret Kalyan, Kalyan mosque and Mir Arab Madrasah which all together represents an entire architectural jewel of Bukhara.
Miri Arab Madrasah
The madrasah is most sacred educational center in the region. Mir Arab was built by Shaybanids in 16th century on the trophy means won over from Ubaydulla khan. Sheikh Abdulla Yamani was the spiritual mentor of Ubaydulla khan and the construction was attributed to Sheikh Abdulla Yamani who was recognized as Mir Arab. Mir Arab Madrasah is still functioning and the leading one in region.
Occupying 1 hectare space and welcoming 10000 prayers Kalyan Mosque is considered to be one of the most ancient in the Middle Asia. It is believed there are several ground floors on its territory according to archeological excavations. The inscriptions points out that construction of Kalyan Mosque began in the 15th century. Kalyan Mosque is rectangular shaped with big portal decorated by mosaic. With every step the vaults of pendentives slide apart and visitors can enjoy the view of the main building of the mosque.
The symbol of sacred Bukhara is surely Minaret Kalyan meaning “The Great Tower”. Minaret represents a huge cylindrical pillar which is 46.5 meters in height. The foundation of the minaret goes down 10 meters and diameter by the plinth is 9 meters. Minaret was used for calling people for prayer. Inscriptions on the belts of the minaret indicate that the construction of the minaret dates back to 12th century. According to inscriptions it was built by architect Usto Baki under sponsorship of Arslankhan the governor of Bukhara.
In the past minaret was known as “Death Tower” as well and there are many legends related with this tower. According to one of the legends once upon a time there was a king who decided to kill his wife but his wife was smart. The king ordered to throw his wife down from the top of Minaret but his wife was surprisingly calm dressed up in all her dresses and skirts. When she jumped off the top it was like a miracle that she safely landed thanks to the way she dressed which served as parachute.
The madrasah which is named after worldwide known astronomer Ulugbek was built in 2nd decade of 15th century and the most outstanding architects of those times took part in the construction of the madrasah. The arks and walls of madrasah was decorated in a decent way. The madrasah is designed with astral ornament which most probably is the reflection of Ulugbek’s point of view of the world as an astronomer.
The portal of the madrasah is bifurcated with a crosscutting corridor. On the end of the corridor is a room for lessons and on the other end of the corridor is mosque. On the second floor the library is located. This madrasah has become an example to many madrasahs throughout Middle Asia.
The famous inscriptions “Aspiration for knowledge is a sacred obligation of every Muslim man and woman” could be found on the doors of the madrasah. And the other inscription says “Let the majestic mercy of the lord always pour upon the people enlightened with wisdom”.
Lyabi Hauz Complex
In translation Lyabi Hauz means “the edge of the pond”. The pond is surrounded by three architectural constructions and all together represents one complex. Lyabi Hauz Complex was built in 1620 and includes Kukaldesh madrasah in the north, Khanaka Nadir Divan Begi in west side and Nadir Divan Begi Madrasah in the east.
Nodir Devan Begi Madrasah
The madrasah was built n 17th century but originally it was planned to be a cavan-sarai not madrasah. However, at the opening ceremony Immkuli Khan taking advice of Sufi sheikhs congratulated the minister with completion of the building “in the name of Allah” and unexpectedly named the building as madrasah. So Divan Begi had to adapt caravan-sarai into a madrasah.
Legends about Nadir Divan Begi relates that Lyabi Hauz Complex is related with romantic legend. Once Nadir Divan Begi decided to get married and made his choice he presented only earrings as wedding present. Of course, bride get offended by the fact that only earrings were presented. She was sure that groom was from wealthy family and could easily afford to present more valuable present. But groom seemed not to notice this. After few years he began construction of this complex and his wife became indignant and told him that it was not fair to spend huge amount of money on the construction whilst she was presented only earrings as a wedding gift. Then Nadir Divan Begi asked her wife to check her jewelry box and she found that one earring was missing. After that she thought she was robbed but then her husband explained that entire complex was going to be built on the value of one earring.
Chor Minor Madrasah
Chor-Minor madrasah was built in 1807 being sponsored by a wealthy Turic Caliph Niyazkul. Architectural style of Chor Minor differs from other in the city. The construction is complemented with four small minarets with azure domes with unrepeatable decorations. That is how it got the name “Four Minarets”.
Each of the minarets has different ornaments and design. You can see cross, Christian fish and Bhuddist praying wheel in some elements of the decoration of the minarets. The most probably architects and sponsor tried to reflect realization of four religious streams.
Bakhouddin Nakshbandi Complex
The most sacred place in Bukhara is surely Bakhouddin Nakshbandi Complex which has been constructed throughout 5 centuries. The biggest building of the memorial is the khanaka with massive dome ceiling at the base of arks. The khanaka is given the name of Avdalazis-khan which gave the order of its construction. Located at a distance 12 km away from the city, this sacred Islamic place attracts many people. Both young and older pilgrims, men, women and children coming from the nearest and farthest locations, gather together for the blessings and prayers in this quiet palace.
Bakhouddin Nakshbandi was one of the most famous founders of Sufizm and the originator of Sufi brotherhood of nakshbandi. The Sufi community of Nakshbandi denied asceticism and was actively engaged in household crafts. The main principle of the brotherhood was: “Our path to God is a reciprocal communication, not the reclusion”. Nakshbandi had received widespread recognition in Islamic world during a three-year Hajj.
Sitorai Mohi-Hosa Palace
Summer residence of Bukhara emirs Sitorai Mohi-Hosa is located 4 km to the north of Bukhara which belonged to last governing emir of Bukhrar, Said Alimkhan. The name of the summer residence means “Stars meet the moon”.
Firstly, the group of local architects built a wonderful architectural construction which combined local and European traditions. The main structure of the palace is granted to the throne hall. The public meetings of the elite authorities used to be held there. Grand historical value is attributed to the new palace which was built near the old one including few building complexes. The new palace complex Sitorai Hohi Hosa had been build during the times of emir Alim-khan. It used to include the main entrance ark with mosaic ornament of various tones and colors, inner yard with galleries, main gate designed in East-European style with the flowers planted in front of the pond and the emir’s harem premises in the garden. By the entrance to the portal there are two marble lions made by nuratin masters. Also the architects had created marble reservoirs in the shape of fictional dragon.
Main building of the palace which includes comprises rooms and personal premises of emir had been constructed mainly under the supervision of Russian architects and only “The White Hall” and its corridor built in 1912-1914, belong to the art style of Bukhara architects. These halls are the masterpieces of ornamental decoration. “The White Hall” named because of the glitter of white construction materials used during the ereciton process to cover the walls and the ceiling. The mirrors built in the wall in the shape of a panel constitute only the font for the decorative ornaments.
After destroying the palace in the second decade of 20th century as it was decided by Bukhara emirate, Sitorai Mohi-Hosa was the session place for the new government, supreme state body of the National Republic of Bukhara, the united national assembly. At the present time the branch of Bukhara historical museum is located on this territory.