Gur Emir Mausoleum in Samarkand

The Gur-Emir-Mausoleum (Persian گور امیر; Uzbek Go’ri Amir, from gur, “grave”, and the Emir, “sovereign”, “ruler”) in the Uzbek city
Samarkand is the tomb of Tamerlane, some members of his family and other persons in the environment of the ruler, including
Ulugh BegShah Rukh and Mir Said Berke – the teacher of Tamerlane.

It was built in 1403/04 and is regarded as the finest example of art of building of the Timurid’s epoch, with its azure ribbed dome on a high Tambour.

It occupies an important place in the history of Persian-Mongolian Architecture as the precursor and model for later great Mughal architecture tombs, including Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi and
the Taj Mahal in Agra, built by Timur’s descendants, the ruling Mughal dynasty of North India.

History

Initial part of the complex was built at the end of the 14-th century to the orders of Muhammad Sultan Tamerlane’s heir apparent and his beloved grandson. The construction of mausoleum (Qubba) itself began in 1403 after the sudden death of Muhammad Sultan. The Mausoleum was completed before Timur’s death on 14-th February 1405, so it must be either end of 1404, or the beginning of 1405. His own resting place, Timur had prepared in his home city Schahr-i Sabs near to his Ak-Saray palace. However, when Timur died in 1405 on campaign on his military expedition to China, the passes to Shahrisabz were snowed in, so he was buried here instead. Later Ulugh Beg, another grandson of Tamerlane, had completed the complex in whole. Under the aegis of Ulugh Beg in 1434
Ivans and minarets was built. During his reign the mausoleum became the family crypt of the Timurid Dynasty.

Unfortunately, since the end of 17-th century the long period of decline of Samarkand has begun. The city has lost the status of capital which has been transferred to Bukhara. The great Silk Road bypassed the city, meanwhile great historical monuments stood empty and forgotten. Only after the Second World War extensive restoration work in Gur-Emir has begun. In the 1950s the dome, main portal and minarets were refurbished. By that time majolica tiles mostly fell away. The 1970s, was followed by the restoration of the interior. Neither the Madrasah nor the Khanaka of initial Muhammad Sultan’s complex were reconstructed. With the resurgence of the interest to Tamerlane after the founding of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 1991 it intensified the care of his places of worship.

In 1740, king Nader Shah of the Afsharid Empire tired to carry away Tamerlane’s sarcophagus. Nader idolized Timur. He imitated Timur’s military prowess and, later in his reign, Timur’s cruelty, but
in the process of removal the sarcophagus broke in two. This was interpreted as a bad omen. His advisers urged him to leave the stone to its rightful place. Tamerlane’s tomb was opened shortly before the German Invasion into the Soviet Union, although the inscription on his tomb threatens great misfortune to any of his rest breaker. Exhumation of Timur in 1941 was made under the direction of Soviet scientist and anthropologist Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gerasimov who was able to reconstruct Tamerlane’s facial features from his skull, and it was also confirmed that he was 172 cm in height and would have walked with a pronounced limp. Also it is rumoured that Soviet Union won a victory in the Battle of Stalingrad owing to the re-burial of Timur’s bones, according to Muslim rites in 1942.

Architecture

All the extensions of Ulugh Beg’s time are attributed to the architect Muhammad ibn Mahmud from Isfahan. Through the main portal (Ivan) of 12,07 m height one can enter in courtyard. On the right on the courtyard once the Khanaka, and on the left the Madrasah were located. Now only remnants of the foundations of these former buildings exist.

The courtyard measures are 29.5 x 30.4 m. Across the courtyard contrariwise the main portal one can see the second Ivan with the Pischtak of 11.8 m high, which framed the real entrance into Mausoleum together with decorated arcade-walls that adjoined to the Pishtak from the left and the right.

At present time only two of four minarets rise a bit behind at flanks of the second Pishtak. The entrance portals of Gur-Emir Ensemble are richly decorated with carved bricks and various mosaics.

Outwardly the Mausoleum itself is a one-cupola building. It is famous for its simplicity of construction and for its solemn monumentality of appearance. It is an octahedral building crowned by an azure fluted dome. The exterior decoration of the walls consists of the blue, light-blue and white tiles organized into geometrical and epigraphic ornaments against a background of terracotta bricks. The dome (diameter – 15 m, height – 12.5 m ) is of a bright blue color with deep rosettes and white spots. Heavy ribbed fluting gives an amazing expressiveness to the cupola.

Inwardly the mausoleum appears as a large, high chamber with deep niches at the sides and diverse decoration. The interior of the mausoleum has a square plan enlarged with four niches that created a cross-shaped space. One can see that the internal dome is neither by the form nor by the height corresponds to the dome from outside. Reason for this is that between inner ceiling and outer cupola is the hollow space.

The interior is lavishly decorated. The lower part of the walls covered by onyx slabs composed as one panel. Each of these slabs is decorated with refined paintings. Above the panel there is a marble stalactite cornice. Large expanses of the walls are decorated with painted plaster; the arches and the internal dome are ornamented by high-relief papier-mache cartouches, gilded and painted.

The ornate carved headstones in the inner room of the mausoleum merely indicate the location of the actual tombs in a crypt directly underneath the main chamber.

Under Ulugh Beg’s government a solid block of dark green jade was placed over the grave of Tamerlane. Formerly this stone had been used at a place of worship in the Chinese emperor’s palace, then as the throne of Duwa (a descendant of Genghis Khan) in Chagatay Khanate. Next to Tamerlane’s grave lie the marble tombstones of his sons Miran Shah and Shah Rukh and also of grandsons – Muhammad Sultan and Ulugh Beg. Tamerlane’s spiritual teacher Mir Said Baraka, also rests here.

The way to the actual burial place, under the main chamber, passes not via the doorway-ivan, but is vented on one side of the gallery.

Nearby monuments

Some consider the Gur-e Amir (Gur Emir), Ruhabad mausoleum and Aksaray mausoleum as a combined ensemble because of their closeness.

Ruhabad (14th c.) is a small mausoleum and is said to contain a hair of Prophet Muhammad. The one storey madrasah now accommodates craftsmens’ shops. There is a functioning mosque next door to the madrasah. All three combine into one
good-looking shape.

The Aksaray mausoleum (15th c.), unrestored, located on a quiet street behind Gur-e Amir (Gur Emir).

Reference: http://www.pagetour.org/samarkand/Gur-Emir.htm

The mosque Bibi Khanym (Persian: مسجد بیبی خانم; Uzbek: Bibixonim Masjidi; Russian: Мечеть Бибиханым; German: Bibi Khanum Moshee; also: … Khanom / Hanum/ Chanym / Hanim, etc.) is one of the most important monuments of Samarkand. In the 15th century it was one of the largest and most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world. By the mid-20th century only a grandiose ruin of it was survived, but now major parts of the mosque have been restored.

Origin and Meaning

Bibi Khanym Mosque was built between 1399 and 1404 by order of the Central Asian ruler
Timur (Tamerlane). Previously Timur had expanded his power in several successful campaigns from Syria to India and had risen to become the most powerful ruler of the Islamic world. The construction of the new Friday Mosque (Great Mosque) in Timurs’s capital Samarkand is probable the claim to put the sign of his power in political and religious life of vast region of Asia.

Though Timur personally monitored and corrected the construction of the building, it was not quite completed until his death in 1405.

Soon after the building became a huge place of worship, it began to collapse and fall into ruin. The original impulse of its creator was perhaps too impertinent, as he attempted to accomplish what was at the time an almost unreal architectural idea. But perhaps there was a more deep reason of its collapse. It is commonly known that rulers often build temples in an attempt to please God. The Bibi-Khanym might have been intended as a huge thank-offering by the Emperor Timur after his successful Indian campaign. Or was it perhaps built in atonement for his many sins? The capture of Delhi was remarkable for its excessive cruelty. When Tamerlane over-ran India, he left a trail of carnage all the way to Delhi, where he reduced the city to rubble and massacred 100,000 inhabitants. The truth will always remain a mystery. At least it looks as if God rejected the bloody offering, whatever kind it was.

To the true story of origin of the mosque was later implicated a romantic legend in which Bibi Khanym, the favorite wife of Timur, is presented as a builder of.

 

Architecture

The mosque follows the basic type of the courtyard mosque. Its outer walls enclose a rectangular area which measures 167 by 109 m and runs along roughly from northeast to southwest – the
Qibla accordingly. However the size of the site vacant of covered galleries was only 78 by 64 meters.

One who enters the Mosque from the northeast through the vast, about 40 m high, parade portal gets in the courtyard. A monumental dome above square base, around 40 m high, rises on the opposite site of the courtyard. The dome is the largest cupola of the mosque. Nevertheless, the dome cannot be seen from the courtyard, for whole building is covered up from inside by the grandiose pischtak, which framed a monumental, deeply embedded Iwan. The Iwan does not allow getting inside the underlying construction supporting the dome; this can only be done from the sides. Two other domes associated with the Iwans, more modest in their size, are facing at the center of the long sides of the courtyard. Thereby, the Bibi Khonym Mosque implements the classic Persian-Islamic architectural type of the “Four-Iwan scheme”.

Into the perimeter of the courtyard in former time there were open galleries of 7.2 m high. Their cover was formed from the juxtaposition of many small, flat brick vaults and domes supported by a forest of more than 400 marble columns and buttresses. Today, only hints of the galleries can be seen.

Four minarets at their outer corners of the site are already restored. Four other, more majestic minarets that flanked the Portal arch of the entrance and the Pischtak of the main domed building are not completed yet.

In the middle of the courtyard is located the stone pedestal – the huge Quran stand from ornate marble blocks, this remarkable sight is also from the time of Timur..

The huge BIbi Khonym Mosque with its three domed rooms, the covered galleries and the open courtyard was intended to gather the entire male population of Samarkand city for the joint Friday prayers.

Artistic design

In the construction of three domes of Bibi-Khanym mosque, sophisticated in Timur’s time, one important innovation was applied, it is Two-fold construction, where the internal dome hall neither by the form nor by height corresponds to the dome’s shape from outside. Reason for this is that between inner ceiling and outer cupola is the hollow space. This dome construction allowed main hall of the mosque to be committed to the proportions and the aesthetics of the 30 m high interior above the mihrab, meanwhile 40 m high outer dome of the main building could be designed towards maximal impression and visibility. This scheme was applied also to the lateral dome structures that allowed making modest buildings the figuration tower-like structures with elegant melon-shaped and longitudinally ribbed outer domes. When construction was completed in 1404 it gripped minds of many poets. The Bibi-Khanym was compared to the beauty and brilliance of the Milky Way. Unfortunately the beauty of interior in Bibi-Khonym mosque is almost completely lost, however one can get an idea of how it might
look like by visiting the Gur-Emir mausoleum, where was used same technique.

In the decoration of the Bibi-Khinym Mosque all the traditions of Central Asia and Persia and even architectural ideas from India were used. One can see there elements of mural incrustation, decorative marble panels, stucco decorations and mural painting. Especially glazed ceramics can be found here in all of its forms such as the turquoise large main dome, the geometric mosaic of large wall surfaces, the multicolored ceramic to the frames of the arches and the ribs of the side domes; the delicate mosaic of countless interwoven by arabesques, elegant Thuluth font frieze on the cobalt blue and ornate gold faience on the drum under the great dome.

The interior of the dome rooms still shows traces of colored Al-secco painting and decorative elements made of paper mache, decorated with gold leaf and also blue – the latter an invention of that time. Also the some elements of the encrusted marble pedestal have been preserved.

Fate and current state

When Timur had returned from his military campaign in 1404 the mosque was almost completed. However Timur was not happy with the progress of construction, therefore he had immediately made various changes, especially concerning the main cupola.

From the beginning of the construction, problems of statistical regularity of the structure revealed themselves. Various reconstructions and reinforcements were undertaken in order to save the mosque. However, after few years the first bricks had begun to fall out of the huge dome over the mihrab. It forced
Timur to retaliate often beyond the structural rules. His builders were certainly aware of that, however he didn’t want to accept their opinion and reality.

Late 16th century the Abdullah Khan II (Abdollah Khan Ozbeg) (1533/4-1598), who was the last Shaybanid Dynasty Khan of
Bukhara, from 1583 until his death, had cancelled all restoration works in Bibi Khonym Mosque. [8] After that, the mosque came down and became a ruins gnawing at the wind, weather and earthquakes. The inner arch of the portal construction was collapsed in 1897. During the centuries the ruins were plundered by the inhabitants of Samarkand in search of building material especially the brick of masonry galleries along with the marble columns.

In the 20th century the ruins of the Mosque Bibi Khanym still impressed those visiting the city with its huge dimensions and still recognizable precious refinements. A first basic investigation and securing the ruins was made in Soviet times. Late 20-th century the Uzbek government began with the restoration of three dome buildings and the Main portal. The decoration of domes and facades was extensively restored and supplemented. Work on the mosque restoration last up till now.

Name

It is unclear when the name Bibi Khanym Mosque arose. In the Middle Ages the Mosque only as great mosque or Friday mosque was mentioned.

Historically, Bibi Khanym (خانم بیبی, Persian: Madam Bibi) has not been used as the name of a wife of Timur. In Persian Bibi is also more of a general honorific name with the meaning of highly respected woman, particularly as respectful form of address for the paternal grandmother.

But Bibi Khanym Mosque has a nexus to Timur’s principal wife Sarai-Molk Khanym. While Timur was years in his military campaigns, his wife (was already an elderly lady) was most probably overseeing the work on the mosque, the most important new development of capital. What is certain is that under the
aegis of Sarai-Molk Khanym directly opposite the mosque Bibi Khanym one in the same time a madrasah had been built. [12] Only one dome structure of former madrasah has remained today, which has been mistakenly handed down by fame as the mausoleum of Bibi Khanym.

Reference: http://www.pagetour.org/samarkand/Bibi-Khonym.htm

Classic Uzbekistan

 

The itinerary: Tashkent – Samarkand – Bukhara – Khiva – Tashkent
Duration: 8 days
Number of tourists in group: minimum – 4, maximum – 12

BRIEF PROGRAM OF THE TOUR
Day 1 Arrival to Tashkent. Transfer to the hotel. Rest.
Day 2 Sightseeing in Tashkent. After lunch – transfer to Samarkand.
Day 3 Sightseeing in Samarkand.
Day 4 Transfer to Bukhara.
Day 5 Continue of the excursion in Bukhara.
Day 6 Drive through Kyzyl-Kum desert to Khiva.
Day 7 Sightseeing in Khiva. Afternoon transfer to airport, flight to Tashkent.
Day 8 Departure from Tashkent.
DETAILED PROGRAM OF THE TOUR
Day 1 Arrival to Tashkent. Transfer to the hotel. Rest.

Day 2 Sightseeing in Tashkent: Old town, cult-architectural complex Khast – Imam (Khazret – Imam ) with grand Friday mosque, medieval Yunus-khan and Kafal-Shashi mausoleums (XVI c), Barakh – khan and Kukeldosh madrasahs (XVI-XVII c), Islamic University, library in Tillya Sheykh mosque with one of Osman caliph’s (VII c) original Korans, the oldest in the world; Istiqlol square with Abdul Kasim madrasah (XVI-XVII c) (the craftsmen works and sells their original products and souvenirs here), Alisher Navoiy monument, great amusement park, ànd the color music fountain; Amir Timur square (Tamerlan) with the park, equestrian statue of Tamerlan, surrounded by historic and administrative buildings such as the Forum palace, the Timurids museum, Uzbekistan Hotel, Tashkent chimes, Tashkent University of Low and others; Courage monument – the monument to Tashkent people suffered from the destructive earthquake in 1966; Opera and Ballet theater, built by the Japanese prisoners of war in 1945, ànd the color music fountain; Mustaqillik (Independence) square with the Independence monument, “Ezgulik” arch, the eternal flame, the fountains; “Chorsu” eastern bazaar, decorative and applied art with the richest collection of Uzbekistan craftsmen’s products. After lunch – transfer to Samarkand.

Day 3 Sightseeing in Samarkand: Registan square – the “heart” of Samarkand – ensemble of 3 majestic madrassahs (XIV-XVI c.c.) – Sherdor, Ulugbek and Tillya Qory, Bibi-Khanum the gigantic cathedral Mosque (XV c.), Gur-Emir Mausoleum of Timur (Tamerlan), his sons and grandson Ulugbek (XV c.). Tamerlan’s grandson Ulugbek’s the well-known ruler and astronomer-scientist observatory (1420 y.) – the remains of an immense (30 m. tall) astrolabe for observing stars position, Shakhi-Zinda – “The Living King” (XI-XVIII c.c.) Necropolis of Samarkand rulers and noblemen, consisting of set of superb decorated mausoleums, exotic Siab bazaar.

Day 4 Transfer to Bukhara (300 km, 5 hrs). Sightseeing in Bukhara: “The heart of Bukhara – historic- architectural complex Lyabi-Khauz with the oldest in Central Asia pool (XIV-XVII c) surrounded by medieval buildings madrasah and khanaka of Nadira Divan-begi (XV-XVI c) with the facade, decorated with gorgeous mosaic, Kukeldash madrasah (XV c) – the largest madrasah in Bukhara. Poi –Kalyan Complex includes: 48 m minaret Kalyan (XII c) – the symbol of Bukhara; large Friday mosque Kalyan (XV c) with galleries topped with 288 domes of 1 hectare area; the only one active madrasah in Bukhara Miri-Arab (XVI c).

Day 5 Continue of sightseeing in Bukhara: the Samanids mausoleum (IX-X cc), Ark citadel (IV-XX cc) – the oldest residence of the Emirs, Chor-Minor – the original building of four minarets (XIX c). Sitorai- Mohi-khosa Palace (XIX-XX cc) – country summer palace of Bukhara Emirs.

Day 6 Drive through Kyzyl-Kum desert to Khiva (500 km; ~ 8 hrs). En route a short stop for walking along Kyzyl-Kum desert and on a picturesque bank of Amudarya river.

Day 7 After breakfast start sightseeing in Khiva: Ichan Kala – the museum under one sky, protected by the UNESKO as one of the world heritage masterpiece. Kalta-Minor Minaret (1855) – incomplete minaret of 26m height and base diameter of 16m height. It was planned as a highest minaret in Central Asia. Kunya-Ark (XVII-XIX cc) – the first palace of Khiva’s khans, Pahlovan Mahmud mausoleum (XIV-XIX c), Islam Khodja madrassah and minaret (1908 y.). Juma-mosque (1789) – the original Friday mosque with flat roof, propped up by 218 wooden carved columns (X-XIX c) with magnificent acoustics. In the evening flight to Tashkent. On arrival transfer to hotel for 1 night.

Day 8 Departure from Tashkent.
ARRIVAL DATES:
06.09 – 13.09.2015
20.09 – 27.09.2015
04.10 – 11.10.2015
18.10 – 25.10.2015
01.11 – 08.11.2015

Cost includes:
• accommodation on twin-share basis;
• meals: breakfasts throughout;
• 1 dinner with folk-show in Bukhara;
• transport for all transfers according to program;
• sightseeing with local guides in each city;
• entrance fees to main tourist sites according to program;
• letter of invitation (visa support letter).

Cost does not include:
• International flights;
• all services not mentioned as above;
• meals: half- / full board throughout;
• photo- & video shooting fees in museums;
• medical insurance.
Extra charge for single supplement:
• hotels 2* – $120;
• hotels 3* – $130;
• hotels 4* – $160.

• airfare Urgench / Tashkent – $ 120 USD

Contact information:
Email: pagetour@gmail.com
Telephone: +99890 1886128
The cost: 680 USD