Tamerlane began to build the Bibi-Khanym Mosque after the triumphant Indian campaign in 1399. The main mosque of Samarkand had to be the biggest and most splendid building of that time, worthy to represent the greatness of his empire.
By the end of 14th the empire of Tamerlane was at its zenith. Its borders stretched from Turkey to India, and the population of Samarkand reached 1 million people. At that period the population of the major European capitals was hardly over 100 thousand people.
From all subjugated countries Timur sent educated people and craftsmen to Samarkand. All of them worked in order that the capital of his empire might become even more resplendent. And the main mosque of Samarkand - the Bibi-Khanym Mosque - was one of the works of craftsmen from all over the world.
The Bibi-Khanym Mosque was called in honor of the elder wife of Timur, Saray Mulk Hanym. As is known, Timur could supervise only the beginning of the construction of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque in 1399. Then he went on the campaign against Turkey for several years and returned only in 1404.
A legend related the building of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque with the wife of Timur, but in reality it was controlled by two noblemen. By the time that Timur came back the Bibi-Khanym Mosque was mostly finished. It was and is the largest mosque in Central Asia and one of the largest in the world. Its court for Friday namaz could accommodate over 10 000 people, but Timur disliked many of the architectural solutions of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. He executed the noblemen who supervised the construction and ordered to redesign the entrance portal.
The size of the court of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque is 100 х 140 meters. Galleries were built on each side of the court. Four massive minarets were decorated by impressive domes. The diameter of the central dome over the mosque is 40 meters. In the middle of the mosque court there is a special stone stand where the open Quran of giant size could be placed.
It is the famous Samarkand Kufic Quran. It is the oldest hand-written Quran, which survived until our days and is supposedly stained by the blood of the pious caliph Uthman. Since that time it was also known as the Uthman Quran. After careful scientific studies it was determined that the Uthman Quran dated back to 7-8 centuries and in Uzbekistan it was brought only in 15th century in the reign of Timur`s grandson Ulugh Beg. Now the Uthman Quran is kept at the Tashkent mosque Tillya-Sheikh.
Opposite the entrance portal of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque the mausoleum is located where the wives of Timurid rulers were buried. Within a walking distance of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque there is the Registan Square, as well as the Guri Amir and Rukhabad mausoleums. If you go in the opposite direction, you can reach the Ulugh Beg Observatory and the Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis.