The Guide to Bukhara. History and sights - Bukhara Uzbekistan

Ark citadel & Grand mosque

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Ark citadel & Grand mosque

In the northwestern section of the city rose the Ark - the palace fortress of the bukharkhudats. Beyond the walls of the Ark and the shakhristan sprawled the business quarters and artisan's areas - the rabad with its residential neighborhoods of adobe-clay houses. The rabad was stimulated in its growth by the development of caravan trade: Bukhara was on the crossroads of ancient trade routes linking up China, Iran and India. At the western gates of the citadel were the divans - the state offices, and the palaces of the nobles. At the eastern gates stood a Christian church.

The oldest monument in Bukhara, the Ark - citadel and residence of the local rulers goes back to the 3d century B.C. Over the centuries, construction and destruction at the site of the Ark have accumulated an artificial hill 18 meters high. The last emirs of Bukhara built up the top layer. The fortifications were built up layer after layer one on top of the other till they developed into motley facing of the hill. There are few surviving buildings in the Ark since most of the wooden framework structures burnt out in a fire in 1920. The overall layout has been restored on the basis of historical documents.

The first of the structures that has survived to this day are the gates of the Ark which face west and open out on the Registan Square. The gates were built in the 18th century in the form of a massive portal fringed by double towers.

Just opposite the corridor outlet into the Ark raises the roofed gallery of the grand mosque. It has a layout of a big quarter mosque in which the main prayer hall with four columns supporting the roof is surrounded on three sides by a roofed gallery (avian). The decor displays typical features of the turn of the century.

The Registan square to the west of the Ark developed into the city's social center during the pre-Arab period. Up to the I3th century, the square was built up with administrative buildings and palaces of the nobles. Later, the square was turned into a bazaar: at the entrance to the square sprawled Rasta-iy-tirgaron - rows of stand where gunsmiths sold their ware; in the center of the square rose Toki Ord Furushon arcade and a domed structure where head-dresses were sold. And all around was the noisy and colorful eastern market. Close to the entrance of the Ark were the arsenal, the office of the kushbegi (military chief), the Poyanda grand mosque, the quarter mosques of various guilds and also the madrasah Bozori Gusfand belonging to the butchers' guild. Also there was the dar ash-shifa (hospital), where, according to ancient sources, patients were given potions and special food for treatment.
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