Registan

The Registan was the heart of the ancient Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The name Registan (ریگستان) means "Sandy place" in Persian.

The Registan was a place of public executions, where also people gathered to hear royal proclamations, heralded by blasts on enormous copper pipes called dzharchis.

Buildings


The three madrasahs of the Registan are: Ulugh Beg Madrasah (1417–1420), Tilya-Kori Madrasah (1646–1660) and the Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619–1636). Madrasah is an Arabic term meaning school.

Ulugh Beg Madrasah


The Ulugh Beg Madrasah has its imposing portal with lancet arch facing the square. The corners are flanked by the high well-proportioned minarets. Mosaic panel over the entrance arch is decorated by geometrical stylized ornaments. The square-shaped courtyard includes a mosque, lecture rooms and is fringed by the dormitory cells in which students lived. There are deep galleries along the axes. Originally the Ulugh Beg Madrasah was a two-storied building with four domed darskhonas (lecture room) at the corners. The madrasah was one of the best clergy universities of the whole Moslem Orient of the 15th century. Abdurakhman Djami, a prominent poet, scientist and philosopher studied there. Ulugh Beg himself gave lectures there. During Ulugh Beg's government the madrasah was a centre of secular science.

Sher-Dor Madrasah


In the 17th century the ruler of Samarkand Yalangtush Bakhodur ordered the construction of the Sher-Dor and Tillya-Kori madrasahs. The Sher-Dor (Having Tigers) Madrasah was designed by architect Abdujabor. The decoration of the madrasah is not as refined as that on the 15th century - "golden age" of Samarkand architecture. Anyway, the harmony of large and small rooms, exquisite mosaic decor, monumentality and efficient symmetry - all these put the structure among the best architectural monuments of Samarkand.

Tilya-Kori Madrasah


Ten years later the Tilya-Kori Madrasah was built, the name means "Gilded". It was not only the place of training students, but also it played the role of grand mosque. It has two-storied main facade, vast courtyard fringed by dormitory cells with four galleries along axes. Mosque building (see picture 6) is situated in the western section of the courtyard. The main hall of the mosque is abundantly gilded.

Mausoleum of Shaybanids


To the east of Tilya-Kori Madrasah the mausoleum of Shaybanids (16th century) is located (see picture). The real founder of Shaybanid power was Muhammad Shaybani - grandson of Abu'l Khair. In 1500, with the backing of the Chaghataite Khanate, then based in Tashkent, Muhammad Shaybani has conquered Samarkand and Bukhara from their last Timurid rulers. The founder of the dynasty then turned on his benefactors and in 1503 took Tashkent. He captured Khiva in 1506 and in 1507 he swooped down on Merv (Turkmenistan), eastern Persia, and western Afghanistan. The Shaybanids stopped the advance of the Safavids, who in 1502 had defeated the Akkoyunlu (Iran). Muhammad Shaybani was a leader of nomadic Uzbeks. During the ensuing years they substantially settled down in oases of Central Asia. The Uzbek invasion of 15 c. was the last component of the today's Uzbek nation ethnogeny.

Chorsu


The ancient trading dome Chorsu is situated right behind the Sher-Dor. Now it is well restored. The existence of the trading dome at this place confirms the information that Registan was medieval Samarkand's commercial center and the plaza was probably a wall to wall market. During the Soviet era, the site was restored, which included digging down 3 meters to its original level to expose the buildings' full height.

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