I actually really like Samarkand, the major sites are connected with leafy tree lined pedestrian boulevards. Modern yes, pleasant yes and actually is a welcome relief from the dusty cities of Khiva and Bukhara.
Our first stop today was to Ulegbek’s observatory. His grandfather was Tamerlane who was a warrior and despite his favorite grandson not being a warrior he could see the benefits of science that Ulegbek was interested in. He created a large sextant to map the stars. All that remains is the large curved track that was uncovered in the last century.
We then headed to an amazing avenue of mausoleums called “Shah-I-zinda”. Think along the lines of say recoleta cemetery, in a long avenue, decorated in typical mosque ceramics, some with amazing and incredible detail. Certainly a surprise packet of the day, I had no idea it existed.
Next we went to another mosque, the Bibi-Khanym mosque. Another very beautiful mosque, but I opted for the coffee shop next door, rather than go into the mosque. Actually this turned out the preferred option for the group.
Finally the Registan. It is a complex of 3 medressas, around a square. Each one filled with very ornate decorations and souvenir sellers. However, I did find souvenir of the day. A wooden staff, nicely carved and a symbol of power. Beware my power!
We also wandered up to the last site of the day, the Gur-e-Amir mausoleum, where Tamerlane and Ulegbek are both buried. Very ornate decorations inside the tomb, including a huge chunk of jade to mark Tamerlanes tomb.
So tomorrow we are off to the hustle and bustle of Tashkent, the capital city. It even has a metro courtesy of the Russians.