Guri Amir Mausoleum in Samarkand

When in Samarkand you must visit the Guri Amir Mausoleum where the great conqueror Timur (better known as Tamerlane), who didn’t lost no battle and created a vast empire stretching from Turkey to India, was buried.

During the rule of Tamerlane (1370-1405) Samarkand was the capital of the empire of Timur. In all subjugated lands he took the best craftsmen, as well as women, and sent them to Samarkand. In those years the population of the city reached a million of people, while the population of European capitals, as a rule, didn’t exceed two or three hundred thousand people.

In 1403 Timur began to build a mausoleum for his beloved grandson Muhammad Sultan whom he wanted to make his heir and always took with him in all his military campaigns. And during one of the campaigns Muhammad Sultan died and Timur wanted to bury him in a mausoleum called «Guri Amir», which is Persian for «Tomb of the King».

Later, Timur was also buried in the Guri Amir Mausoleum. His tomb of black nephritis is in the center of the mausoleum. At the foot of the Timur`s tomb there was buried his grandson Ulugh Beg, a great scholar of his time, and Timur himself wanted to be buried at the foot of his spiritual teacher Sayyid Baraka. The tombs of the sons of Timur, as well as his grandson Muhammad Sultan, are on the sides of his tomb. You can see only the gravestones, while the graves themselves are in the basement and not everyone can see them.

Two stories are related with the tomb of Timur. One of them occurred in 1740, when the Iranian Shah Nadir, having conquered the Bukhara Khanate, wanted the nephritis slab of Timur sarcophagus to be carried and put at the foot of his throne. As since then Nadir Shah was dogged by bad luck and he had a vision of Sayyid Baraka, the teacher of Timur, who advised him to immediately return the gravestone to its place.

The other story concerning the «damnation of Tamerlane» is absolutely mystic but it was rather the case of tragic coincidences. All the events, which are shortly described below, really took place in the spring of 1941, when by the personal order of Stalin the tomb of Tamerlane located at the Guri Amir Mausoleum was opened.

Archaeologists came to Samarkand in May of 1941. The Uzbek strongly minded the opening of the tomb of Tamerlane, and there gathered at least a thousand people at the Guri Amir Mausoleum. However, the tombs of the sons and grandsons of Timur were successively opened all the same. One of the members of the expedition, Malik Kayumov, who filmed the tomb opening and later wrote a book about these events, told that just before the opening of the tomb of Timur he was approached by three old men. Having shown the ancient manuscript they told that the spirit of war was locked up in the tomb of Timur and it couldn’t be released or the country will experience many woes.

According to the legend, having said this the old men were gone and no one had ever seen them again, but Kayumov had the other version of the legend. He told that the members of the expedition spoke with the old men and examined in detail the manuscript they brought with them. It was the “Jungnoma”, the book about the mythical heroes written in Farsi. After thorough examination of the book the scientists concluded that it was written just to prevent the robbing of the tomb and not its scientific study.

As a result, the tomb of Timur at the Guri Amir Mausoleum was opened on June, 19, 1941. At the time the World War II was in Europe, but it didn’t touch the Soviet Union. In a day, as soon as the tomb of Timur was opened, German armies attacked USSR. You can quite reasonably suppose that, had the tomb of Timur wasn’t opened, Germany would have attacked USSR all the same, but the fact of the coincidence is undisputable. Also, it could be a mere coincidence that after the skull of Timur was studied and returned to the tomb on December, 20, 1942, the Soviet Army soon won the battle of Stalingrad (two months later) and the general tide of the war was completely changed in the favor of the Soviet Union.

Quite near the Guri Amir Mausoleum there is the Rukhabad Mausoleum, and the monument of Timur. A bit farther, but within a walking distance, are located the Registan Square, the Bibi-Khanum Mosque, and the Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis.

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Guri Amir Mausoleum was built in Samarkand in 1404. There were buried Timur, his sons and grandsons.
Tombs of the Guri Amir necropolis. Black tomb of Timur was cut of a single jade slab.
By its size the empire of Timur was equal to that of Alexander the Great.
The tomb of Timur was cut of a single jade slab. When the tomb was opened in 1941, the Great Patriotic War began.
Underside of the dome of the Guri Amir Mausoleum.
It is believed one could discern the profile of Timur in the ruins of this wall of the Guri Amir Mausoleum.
Original door of the past century at the entrance of the Guri Amir Mausoleum.
The throne of the great military leader Timur in the courtyard of the Guri Amir where he sat during parades of his troops.
Before a campaign Timur had this bowl filled with pomegranate juice and had it given to his armies, each warrior a cup, and thereby he could know the strength of his army.
A wall of the original masonry of 15 century and a stair in the courtyard of the Guri Amir Mausoleum. 
Entrance portal of the Guri Amir Mausoleum.
The main building of the Guri Amir Mausoleum where the tombs of Timur family are located.
Tombs of Timur, his sons and grandsons are within the enclosure, and the tomb of Timur`s teacher, Mir Said Baraka, in the wall alcove under the pillar with a fur tassel.
All walls of the Guri Amir`s vault are decorated by mosaics and gilding.
Burials of Timur and his descendants in the Guri Amir Mausoleum in Samarkand.
Headstone of Timur`s grave in the Guri Amir Mausoleum was cut of a single jade slab. 
Recess in the wall where the burial of Timurs teacher, Mir Said Baraka, is located under the pillar with a fur tassel.
Ribbed dome of the Guri Amir Mausoleum in Samarkand.
Minaret of the Guri Amir Mausoleum.
The walls of the Guri Amir Mausoleum are covered by majolica, ceramic glazed tiles.
Classroom at the entrance to the Guri Amir Mausoleum.
Territory of the Guri Amir Mausoleum in Samarkand.