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Registan Square in Samarkand photo

Surely, the main tourist sight of Samarkand is the Registan Square, which represents all the beauty and authenticity of the Uzbek architecture in the Middle Ages. The first building, the Ulugbek Madrasah, dates back to 15th century, and in 17th century there was created a magnificent architectural ensemble of 3 madrasahs.

The Registan always was and is the main square of Samarkand. During the period of its greatest prosperity, when Samarkand was the capital of the empire of Timur, it was the center of culture and administration, but the first building, which survived until nowadays, the Ulugbek Madrasah, was constructed only a century later.

The word «registan» means «a sandy place» in Uzbek and every city of the Central Asia had such place, but today only Samarkand Registan is known all over the world. The oldest building on the Registan Square is the Ulugbek Madrasah, which was constructed by Ulugbek, the grandson of Timur, during 1417-1420, when Samarkand was still the single capital of the vast empire of Timur.

The next buildings appeared on the Registan Square already when the capital was moved from Samarkand to Bukhara, but the satrap of Bukhara Yalangtush Bakhodur wanting not to be inferior to his predecessors built even more splendid madrasah. In 1619-1636 opposite the Ulugbek Madrasah there was constructed the Sher-Dor Madrasah, which is, probably, the most beautiful building on the Registan Square.

Ten years later, during 1646-1660, between the madrsahs of Ulugbek and Sher-Dor there was built the Tilla-Kari Madrasah, which is also the main mosque, where prayers are held on Fridays and on holidays. The Tilla-Kari Madrasah finished the architectural ensemble of the Registan. You should see the inside of the madrasah. Its interiors were decorated with gold and majolica using the «kundale» technique. Such rich painting and gilding were aimed to strike the visitors by the view of luxury and wealth.

Convenient location of the Registan makes it possible for you to easily reach many of Samarkand sights on foot. On one side there are located the Guri Amir and Rukhabad mausoleums, as well as the monument of Timur. A bit farther, but within a walking distance, there are located the Bibi Khanym Mosque, and the memorial complex or necropolis of Shakhi Zinda.

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Complex of Registan in Samarkand is a masterpiece of Uzbek architecture
Mosaic depicting snow leopards with the sun on their back (coat of arms of Samarkand) over the entrance to the Sher-Dor madrasah
Interior of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah (translated as «finished with gold») is richly decorated with gold and mosaics
Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619-1636) is likely the most beautiful building on the Registan Square in Samarkand
Ulugh Beg Madrasah (1417-1420) is opposite the Sher-Dor Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand
Tilla-Kari Madrasah (1646-1660) is a small building in the center of the square but its interior is richly finished with gold
Entrance portal and the dome of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah (right) and the entrance portal of the Ulugh Beg Madrasah (left) on the Registan Square in Samarkand
Sher-Dor Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand
Sculpture group of astronomers including Mirza Ulugh Beg who was the son of Tamerlane and the ruler of the huge empire
Mosaics on the walls of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand
In the Tilla-Kari Madrasah sermons are given from the minbar during the prayer meetings  
The walls of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah are richly decorated with gold and mosaics
Underside of the dome of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah is richly finished with gold
Arches and walls in the center of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah are finished with gold and blue mosaics
Arches and walls in the center of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah are finished with gold and blue mosaics
Portals surrounding the inner court of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah
Blue mosaics on the portals of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah
At the foot of all walls with mosaics you can see the slabs with citations from the Quran
Sher-Dor Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand
All walls of the Sher-Dor Madrasah are decorated with mosaic of blue shades
Dome of the Sher-Dor Madrasah is decorated with blue mosaic
Three madrasahs of the Registan Square – those of Sher-Dor, Ulugh Beg, and Tilli-Kari
Tall minarets of the Ulugh Beg Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand
Entrance portal of the Ulugh Beg Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand
Niches in the inner court of the Ulugh Beg Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand 
Inner court of the Ulugh Beg Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand
Numerous souvenir shops are located within the portals of the Ulugh Beg Madrasah
Manually painted dishes, traditional Uzbek souvenirs, in one of the shops at the Ulugh Beg Madrasah
Entrance portal of the Tilla-Kari Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand
Niches of the Ulugh Beg Madrasah on the Registan Square in Samarkand