Trip Start May 30, 2011
34Trip End Feb 24, 2012
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Tamerlane took his city seriously. During the 14th century he bought in great artisans, architects and masons from distant lands, willing or not, to construct his city. The result was a world-renowned and envied city boasting some of the finest mosques, medressas and mausoleums ever seen. Over the years most of the building succumbed to age, war and natural disasters, however, some have been restored to their former glory allowing Silk Roaders like ourselves to experience the majesty in the 21st century
These days the beauty and intricate detail in the tile work and brickwork of Timurid architecture can be seen at the Registan square and the many medressas, mosques and mausoleums within the city. In some respects Samarkand may be a little over-restored as the 'old city' can feel extremely sanitised and touristy. Souvenir shops line the main paved pedestrian thoroughfare that connects the Registan with the bazaar. The bazaar itself seems to lack any of the colour and frenzied activity found in other bazaars. Access to the old city residential area is blocked off from view, which is a shame as it is a pleasant experience wondering around this part of town.
Besides this, on a bright, sunny day – which at this time of year is rare – Samarkand shines. The evening sunlight paints the tall minarets an earthen gold and the bright blue cupolas and domes provide contrast and colour. Tamerlane may have been a tyrant and a little crazy but his vision for his city has left a legacy in Samarkand that, despite now been a little refined, is a truly rewarding scene.