Shakhrisabz is the hometown of Temur and everything in Shakhrisabz is connected with his name. Temur was born in 1336 at the village of Hoja Ilghar, about 13 km south of Shakhrisabz. Temur’s father Amir Taragai his spiritual adviser Shamsedin Kulyol, and his eldest sons Jahangir and Omar Sheikh were buried. The name Shakhrisabz is Tajik and means “green city”. The Historic Centre of Shahrisabz was declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.
Archaeological excavations have found traces of occupation by farming communities in the 1st milennium BC. In the Middle Ages the town was called Kesh. It became important in the 14th cent. Temur (Tamerlane) was born in a village nearby and the tribe to which he belonged controlled the city. Temur was already governor of Kesh at the age of 25. He defeated the Turkish sultan Bayezid and the Golden Horde and led triumphant campaigns in Iran, Caucasus, India and Asia Minor. At the height of his power his kingdom stretched from Egypt to Kashgar and Kiev and Moscow were its protectorates. Timur created the vast state of Movarounnahr and became its absolute emir. He made Samarkand his capital and Shakhrizabz his second capital.
Places to visit
- Ak Saray Palace(White Palace). 9am t 6pm. Ak Saray means “white palace”. The term “ak” has also the meaning “generous”, “aristocratic” or “majestic”. Temur’S chronicler Sherif Eddin Ali Yezdi reported that the world has not seen a similar building before the point of which extends from earth to the height of heaven. The palace was founded in the hours predicted by astrology. Its construction was begun in 1380 after Temur’s conquest of Konye Urgench in Khorezm. Artisans from Khorezm were brought here to work on the palace and create its rich decoration. In 1396 the construction works were almost completed. The Spanish ambassador Clavigo reports that the decoration works still continued in 1404. The dimensions of the building can be perceived when looking at the gate towers: the two towers were 50 m high and had an arch with a span of 22 m. The buildings were destroyed in the 16th cent. by order of the ruler of Bukhara, Abdullah Khan. The legend tells that Abdullah Khan was riding to Shahrizabs and saw the palace at a distance. He sent a messenger to the city as he thought that he was already near of it. The messengers nearly died of exhaustion, but the palace was still far away. The khan got angry and ordered the palace to be destoyed. The architecture of the palace is similar to Khoja Ahmed Yasavi Mausoleum in Turkestan/Kazakhstan which was built on the orders of Temur. Archaeological excavations south of Ak Saray have revealed the rich decorated cover of the floor and rich architectural decoration consisting of majolica, marble and combination of terracotta and ornamental mosaic. Only the piles of the portals are left from Ak-Saray. The piles originally were round towers with spiral stairs inbside. Today, the towers are 38 m high. Originally, they reached a height of 50 m. The size of the palace is impressive: the main courtyard was about 120 m wide and 240 m long. Calculations from the proportions of the surviving elements let us assume that the length of the main portal was 70 m and that the towers at the corners were more than 80 m high. The 22 m wide span of the arch of the main entrance was the largest in Central Asia. The mosaic and majolica work in the niche of the portal is particularly refined. The delicate foliage ornamentation also contains calligraphic inscriptions of verses from the Quran as well as a few secular inscriptions. In the middle of the decoration an inscription gives the date of the completion 798 (1395/1396) and the name of the craftsman Muhammad Yusuf Tebrizi from Tabriz/Persia. The legend tells that the architect after Temur had explained his plans started to make foundations blocks from clay mixed with gold. When Temur asked why he did that, the architect answered that he wanted to be sure that Temur was determined to construct a building that required vast expenditures. UZS 1000.
- Dorus Saodat Complex. Dorus Saodat means “repository of power”. This vast complex was the burial place of the ruling family and contained a prayer hall, a mosque and accomodation for the religious community and pilgrims. The main facade was decorated with white marble and the tomb of Temur is a masterpiece of art of this period. Dorus Saodat Complex dates from the same time as Ak-Saray. Construction works began in 1379. The idea was to create a monumental building combining tomb, ziaratkhona (common hall for morning ceremonies), mosque, room for clergy, Quran readers and pilgrims. The main facade of the building had a powerful portal and its dome was only a little bit smaller than Ak-Saray. The building of Ak-Saray was intended to turn Shahrizabs into the second capital of the empire. The creation of the Dorus Saodat expressed Temur’s wish to turn Shahrizabs into the spiritual center of Movarounahr. Each pile contained a mausoleum. Today only the left part of the portal is preserved, containing the tomb of Jahangir. The buildings of the Dorus Saodat Complex were destroyed by the forces of the Sheybanid ruler Abdullah Khan in the second half of the 16th cent., but the mausoleum of Jahangir survived.
- Tomb of Jehangir. Jehangirwas Timur’s eldest son who died at the age of 22. The mausoleum consists of a high square room with the arch on the axis. The prototype of this construction was the Mausoleum of Turabekh Khanum in Konye Urgench, dating from the 1360s. The mausoleum is also the resting place of Timur’s second son Umar Sheikh who was killed at the age of 29 during the siege of Kurd in Iran.
- Crypt of Temur, (behind Jahangir’s mauseolum). Temur’s crypt was discovered in 1963 in an underground room. The room is plain except of inscriptions from the Quran on the arches. In the middle of the room is a large stone casket with inscriptions about Temur. It is therefore supposed that the crypt was intended for him. Temur, however, is buried in the Gur Emir Mausoleum in Samarkand. The marble sarcophagus has a large space on the top whcih was left for the future epitaph of Temur.
- Dorut Tilavat, (west of Dorus Saodat complex). The Dorut Tilavat ensemble is part of the remains of Temur’s memorial ensemble of burials and religious buildings. The buildings were erected mainly during the reign of Ulugbek. This complex contains the graves of Temur’s father Taragayand his spiritual tutor Sheikh Shamsaddin Kulyal. Mausoleum of Sheikh Shamseddin Kulyal, (behind Kok Gumbaz). Timur’s father Taragay died in 1360. When Temur came to power 10 years later he ordered the body of his father to be moved near the grave of the much respected Sheikh Shamsaddin Kulyal. It is said that Temur explained his military success by Sheikh Shamsaddin Kulyal’s prayers, Zaynuddin Havasi’s care and Sayid Bereke’s blessing. Sheikh Shamsaddin Kulyal died in 1371 and Taragay was placed near his grave two years later. Sheikh Shamsaddin Kulyal was a famous Sufi teacher. He was also called “Amiri Kalyaon (Great Emir)” and was the teacher of the famous Sheikh Bahauddin from Bukhara and of Temur’s father Taragay.
- Kok Gumbaz Mosque(Friday Mosque), Ipak Yoli. 9am to 6pm. The mosque was built in 1435 under the reign of Ulugbek opposite the mausoleum of Kulyal on the same axe. It is a large Friday mosque used for public prayers at Fridays. The name Kok Gumbaz means “blue dome”. It was built by Temur’s grandson Ulug Bek in honour of his father Shah Rukh. Inscriptions from the Quarn cover great parts of the dome. UZS 2500.
- Gumbazi Seydon Mausoleum, (south of Kulyal Mausoleum). This mausoleum was built by order of Ulegbekin 1437/38 – according to the inscriptions on the walls for his own descendants. It is not clear whether any of his relatives are buried in it. The mausoleum contains several marble gravestones of the 15th to 17th cent. They mention names of seyids from Termiz and the mionument was called Gumbazi Seydon (“Seyids’ Cupola”). The design of the interior is typical for the time of Ulugbek with decorations of blue colours on a white background. Chorsu Bazaar and Baths. The covered bazaar was built in the town center at the crossroads of two main streets in the form of a octagon with a central cupola. The octagon has entrances into corner rooms. Along the perimeter of the octagon were shops. The building is dominated by the high central dome. As the other markets in the Middle East Chorsu has no decorations. Its effect is defined by its architectural forms. The building dates from the 18th cent. The baths were rebuilt in the 18th cent on the site of the 15th cent. baths. They are heated by an elaborate network of underground conduits and are still in use today.
- Amir Temur Museum, Ipak Yoli. 9am – 5pm. The museum has a model of Temur’s empire from Egypt to Kashgar and some artifacts from Buddhist and Zoroastrian times.