Samarkand – world famous city situated in the valley of Zarafshan is one of the largest and historical cities of Uzbekistan. Samarkand can be comparable to Babylon and Rome. The 2750 anniversary of Samarkand was widely celebrated in Uzbekistan in 2009. In the period of Alexander the Great, the Arab Caliphate, Genghis Khan Khanate, Temurids Empire and others Samarkand came across a lot of violent invasions and conquests which caused a great deal of destruction. In spite of that, the culture in Samarkand reached its up step by step with the mixture of Iranian, Indian, Mongolian, Western and Eastern cultures. It has been attracting all for centuries. A lot of historians and literary people called the city with the names “Rome of the East” and “The Pearl of the East” in the past.
Samarkand was larger and more populous during the VI-XIII centuries than the present day Samarkand and in that period it was destroyed in 1220 by Mongols and afterwards controlled by Western Turks, Arabs, Persian Samanids, Karakhanids and Seljuk Turks, Kara Khitan, Kharezmshah and others. Even though the small part of the population survived, the city suffered from a sack of another Mongol Khan Barak on the purpose of treasure. After such a great disaster the city needed a lot of decades to recover.
From the end of the XIV century Amir Temur made Samarkand the capital of his empire and the city was newly built and populated with craftsmen and artisans who had been brought from conquered countries and regions by him. Owning to Temur’s wisdom he gained a good reputation and Samarkand flourished during his reign.
Later in the XV century, during the reign of Ulugbek, even though the structure was less, considerable mausoleums, medrassas and some other buildings were built. Ulugbek Observatory was a unique structure which was built by him outside of Samarkand. But after his death, it was changed into ruins by the XVI century.
Although Samarkand played a main role in the political life of the region, Bukhara became a capital when the control was taken from Temurids dynasty by Shaybanids. This situation made Samarkand go into declination. Another great destruction was brought to the city by Persian king Nadir Shah.
The Russians were the next to handle the control of the city from 1868. The Colonel Abramov became the first governor of the Military Okrug and Samarkand was its administrative center of it. Later on, it became the capital of Samarkand Oblast (Region) of Russian Turkestan and then the capital of the Uzbek USSR in 1925. But in 1930 Tashkent replaced Samarkand as a capital of Uzbekistan.
For many centuries Samarkand has been famous as a cultural and administrative center and currently it is considered as one of the cities of craftsmen and scientists.
Though a lot of historical architectural monuments and buildings were destroyed during wars and conquests, some of them have still been preserved.
The list of the preserved monuments in Samarkand:
- Ancient settlement of Afrosiab (VIII century BC)
- Observatory of Ulugbek (1428-1429)
- Architectural Ensemble of Shahi Zinda
- Mosque of Bibi Khonim (1399-1404)
- Mausoleum of Gur Emir (1404)
- Registan Square
- Madrasah of Ulugbek (1417-1420)
- Madrasah of Sher Dor (1619-1635/36)
- Madrasah of Tilla Kori (1647-1659/60)
- Mosque of Hazrat Hizr (mid XIX century)
- Chorsu Bazar, (late XVIII century)
- Mausoleum of Ruhabad
- Mausoleum of Ak-Saray (1470)
- Mosque of Namozgoh (XVII century)
- Mosque of Ishrat Hona (1464)
- Ensemble Hoja Ahror (XV - XX centuries)
- Mausoleum of Chupon Ata (1430-440)
- Cemetery of Hoja Darun (XV - XIX centuries)
In this context, we are not mistaken to say that the history of Samarkand constitutes the brightest, glorious and magnificent pages of our Homeland's history.