Mirzo Ulugbek was a grandson of the great conqueror Emir Timur, whose empire stretched from Turkey to India. However, his empire was only hold by the personality of Timur himself. As soon as he died in 1405, it began to disintegrate and Ulugbek (or Ulugh Beg) was the last ruler under whom the empire of Timur remained a single entity.
Ulugbek, born in 1394, was a son of a younger son of Timur, Shahrukh. After the death of Timur in 1405 Shahrukh won the intestine war and became the ruler. He chose Herat as his residence and gave Samarkand to Ulugbek. But the rule of Shahrukh was short, and since 1411 Ulugbek became the ruler of the entire empire of Timur.
Ulugbek together with his teacher Rumi, paid a great attention to the development of sciences, and first of all to astronomy. In their time Samarkand became one of the largest scientific centers in the Middle Ages.
The Ulugbek Observatory was built on the hill Kuhak near Samarkand in 1424-1428. Today you can see there the remains of sextant and astrolabe. It was there, at the Ulugbek Observatory, that in 1437 there was compiled the catalogue of the sky called the «Gurgan Zidj». It contained 1018 stars and 38 constellations.
After the death of Ulugbek in 1447 the Ulugbek Observatory was soon destroyed by the religious fanatics. There were held complex excavations on the site of the observatory at the beginning of 20th century and then in 1948. Now the Ulugbek Observatory was reconstructed with maximum accuracy.
In the immediate vicinity of the Ulugbek Observatory there is the Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis. To get to the other tourist attractions of Samarkand such as the Registan and the Guri Amir Mausoleum you should take a taxi.