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16 | Samarkand Uzbekistan (Part II)

27 - 30 April (Sat - Tue)


I climbed to the top of a minuet (a tall tower next to these magnificent and historic buildings) to get a birds-eye view of the Registan Madrasah (a campus containing historic schools). See photos. Mirzo Ulugbek taught math on the Registan campus and later became the 3rd ruler of the Timur Dynasty – one of the world’s largest kingdoms. However, Ulugbek is better known today as one of the fathers of modern-day astronomy. The three-story observatory, built around 1420CE, did not survive but other artifacts can be viewed. Everyone should visit Samarkand…


Monday and Tuesday were all about continuing to visit this magnificent city. The circus was a weekend event, as there were not nearly as many people and not nearly as much attention was directed at this foreigner.

Ulugbek - Silk Road Superstar

Mirzo Ulugbek was the 3rd ruler in the what became the Timur Dynasty - geographically, one of the world's largest kingdoms - but he is better known internationally as one of the fathers of modern day astronomy. He built a three-story observatory and set about recording the position of stars - all this around 1420. The massive curved track - found in 1908 - is all that remains. The first picture is Ulubek's statue - with three unknown women who jumped into my photo - and the second is a model of what the observatory looked like.

The hill that the observatory was located on was 5km from the old city and I walked it although I stopped at the Afrosiabe Museum along the way. This museum highlights ancient Samarkand, which was founded in 8th century BC. A full day of archaeology and astronomy.

I took a taxi back to Registan and enjoyed a late lunch. Miwa encouraged me to buy a new blue scarf - given what became of my favourite Korean scarf in Almaty. I looked around for something in blue cotton. Some magnificent blue scarves in a cotton-silk mix but one-hundred percent cotton is the go. Nothing caught my attention. Took a late afternoon shower and my fears were realised - uncomfortable cold but clean.

That evening I went to a small cafe that cooked beef and lamb skewers over coals on the street. They serve these with raw, sliced yellow onions with lemon juice. Been eating onions all my life but not in this manner - its tasty with a meat skewer. Time for bed..

The Timur Dynasty,

Mausoleums and Medressas 

Saved the most prominent structures for my last day - three Medressas (schools) built around a large courtyard by three leaders: Ulugbek, Tilla-Kari and Sher Dor (see pictures). Also visited the Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum nearby - the resting place of Amir Temur, one of the world's great conquers and nation-builder. I guess he was a pretty ruthless fellow, as it is rare to achieve such feats peacefully especially in that era.  

Ulugbek actually taught math in this building and others taught theology, astronomy and philosophy. One picture has a single minaret although Ulugbek's Medressa has a minaret on each side. I include that picture because I was able to go to the top for a nominal-fee. It was a real highlight of my visit to climb the stairs - with two fellows from Paris - survey the landscape from above and take a few pictures - one picture looks down on the Tila-Kari Medressa. Another picture includes the Ulugbek Medressa with both minaret - it is on the right and you can clearly see that it tilts slight.

I bought my scarf and one for Miwa - she does not need another scarf but she needs something beautiful from Samarkand.

Lunch followed - very tasty soup in a small cafe - the owner insisted that I speak to his 8 year-old son. Very good English at such a young age. I took his picture and told him to study more and play video games less.

Spent the afternoon at the Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum - where Timur, Ulugbek and others are buried and then walked up a street with many universities. Went onto the campus of the Samarkand State University, which had three schools: Russian Philosophy, Psychology and Social Science. Later, I was taking a picture outside the University of the Silk Road and a staff came out and engaged me in conversation - eventually introducing me to the University manager: Jamshid Abdullaev. Their focus is on tourism, as that is seen to be the future for the UZ economy. I shared information about Griffith's focus on tourism and Asia. I will tell Griffith what I learned about the Silk Road University and perhaps further collaboration may follow.

I had to pull myself away from the night light of Samarkand that make these ancient structures so beautiful, as I had a late night train to catch to Nukus.

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