The Registan was the heart of the ancient Samarkand. The name means
"Sandy place". The ensemble of three madrasahs is a unique example of
town-planning art a remarkable pattern of the architectural design of
the main town square (see picture 1).
Note: All pictures can be enlarged.
Three madrasahs of the Registan are: Ulugbek Madrasah (1417-1420), the
Sher-Dor Madrasah (1619-1636) and the Tilya-Kori Madrasah (1646-1660).
Madrasah is a medieval Moslem clergy academy.
The Ulugbek Madrasah (see picture 2) 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 Ulugbek 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. Ulugbek himself gave lectures there. During Ulugbek's government
the Madrasah was a centre of secular science.
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 (see pictures 3, 4)
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.
Ten years later the Tillya-Kori Madrasah was built
(see picture 5), 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
main hall of the mosque is abundantly gilded.
The Registan Ensemble is a
wonderful combination of the structures built at different times.
Extensive restoration works are in the process.
To the east of Tillya-Kori Madrasah the mausoleum of Shaybanids, 15 c.,
is located (see picture 8). 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
(Uzbekistan), 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.
Straight behind Sher-Dor the ancient trading dome Chorsu is situated
(see picture 9). Now it is well restored.