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Bukhara: Ark Fortress, the symbol of the state power
March 18, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ark-Citadel is a residence of Bukhara Khans that has lasted since the 4th century BC. Following many years of construction, a 20-meter high artificial hill was formed with its upper layers built over the time of the last Bokharan Amirs. Unfortunately, the wooden part of the Ark building was burnt down during the fire of 1920.

The general planning of the structure is being established by historical documents. The Ark included the Amir lodging, the throne-room, the police department, stables, stores of clothes, carpets, utensils, treasures, armory, jail, jeweler’s and other workshops, mint place, mosques, mazars and other buildings. At first, you can see the massive fortress gates of the Ark, a portal with two-storey towers by the sides with an arch aperture and latticed architecture gallery on top. Behind it, there is a musical pavilion built in the 17 century and a colored audience chamber surrounded by a gallery. During the day, a series of makoms –a musical work was performed through which people could know the time (it is tradition left from Zoroastrian time).

From ayvan, tsarevitches looked at solemnities and executions that occurred at Registan Square that was situated before the Ark. Through the citadel inside leads from the Ark gates to the gloomy, arched and raised up passage. At its side, there can be seen 12 niches that pointed the way to damp dungeons, where prisoners languished in awful cells that were built under a bridge of planks and the Ark gates towers.

Lyabi-Khauz:  The architectural ensemble Lyabi-Khauz means ‘at reservoir’ and is formed with three large monumental buildings: Kukeldash Madrasah in the north, Khanaka and Nodir Divan-begi in the west and in the east.

Westen part of Lyabi-Khauz is known as one of the most important historical structures. Here is the famous Nadir Divan-begi Khanaka found (from 1619 to 1620). It’s a huge multi sectional building with a central hall and a dome, and original side parts with beautiful niches. The corner parts of the structure serve as dwellings for the hydjras.

Samanids Mausoleum:  This mausoleum was built in the IX century in Bukhara at the command of Ismail Samani, the founder of the first centralized state in Central Asia. Mausoleum of the Samanids is the first in Central Asia building that was built of brick, which is used here not only as a building, but also as a decorative material. This mausoleum is one of the places because of which Uzbekistan is worth visiting.

Outside and inside tomb walls were stacked with patterned brickwork of the curly -baked bricks. Specialists include more than twenty configurations used bricks. Facades are decorated with patterns made of brick masonry, laid flat on the edge or corner, as well as specially prepared curly bricks forming circles and other geometric shapes.

Such a method of walls decoration doesn’t have any other monument of world architecture. Samanid Mausoleum rightly considered as a masterpiece of Central Asian architecture - it has achieved a rare architectonics, because of the unity of design and architectural and artistic sight of the building.

Despite the fact that the building is not so large, it affects the simplicity and clarity of structure, amazing proportionality and fine harmony of architectural forms and decorations. Square room (with the size of 7,20 to 7,20 meters) with each of the four sides has an entrance marked on the facade of a lancet arch.

Outside corners of the mausoleum closed three-quarter columns that support the arched gallery, crowned facade, and above all the cuboid building mass hemisphere dome rises.

The architecture of dynastic tombs of Samanids inextricably linked with Sogdian tradition and is a kind of transition to a new style of Central Asian architecture. The origins of its architectural forms experts see in the Zoroastrian funerary buildings and temples of fire, a lot of which is preserved in Uzbekistan.

Poi-Kalyan ensemble:  It is quite simple to find Poi Kalyan complex - its leading construction, Kalyan minaret, towers above the city of nearly 50 meters and is visible from almost every place of the city. Moreover, according to some sources, at one time it served as a beacon for the caravans coming across the desert surrounding Bukhara.

Taking into account the fact that the city did not change its location, and only expanded the borders, Poi Kalyan complex, located in the center, even after thousand years still remains, in some sense, the axis of Bukhara. Construction of first buildings of the complex began in 713 year, together with the arrival of Arabs, and the beginning of imposing the Islam. During this time, the complex was many times destroyed and re-constructed, and only the minaret built in 1127 could stand all tests of time: earthquakes, fires and the destruction of the city by the horde of Genghis Khan.

The height of this giant is 46.5 meters, and the foundation goes 10 meters into the ground. At the base, the diameter amounts to 9 meters, and on top it is of 6 meters. Inside the tower there is the spiral staircase of 104 steps, effaced under the feet of thousands of people. By the way, some people just went upstairs, and wee dropped down from the platform on top. This form of penalty was applied to criminals in this city until the end of the XIX century.

Close to the minaret there is the mosque Kalyan, the building of the early XVI century, which by its scale is compared with the famous mosque of Bibi Khanum in Samarkand. This mosque also has a spacious courtyard, surrounded on the perimeter by khujdras (cells). In the far end of the courtyard there is the portal of the main hall of the mosque, behind which the massive dome on the mosaic cylinder rises, covered with blue glaze. All other parts of the mosque are the gallery, which is held by 208 columns that serve as bearers for 288 domes, of this majestic building.

The third and final building in the Poi-Kalyan complex is the Madrasa of Mir-i Arab, which even today is used for its intended purpose - classes on religion, politics in relation to the Islamic world are held here. Built in 1536, it was used not only as the educational institution, but as a tomb - Ubaidulla Khan, who invested in the construction of madrassah, and Mir Arab, the architect of this ancient building, are buried here.

Like the Registan in Samarkand, Bukharan Poi Kalon serves as the central square to start the many tours. Once first Friday prayers among the inhabitants of Bukhara were conducted here, but little-by-little the number of mosques in the city grew up, and the place remained the main place in the life of the city. Not without reason it is called the Poi-Kalyan, which means "the foot of the Great" ...


Miri-Arab Madrasah: Miri Arab Madrasah is situated opposite to the Kalon Mosque. This is one of the most esteemed spiritual Islamic universities all over the world.

Madrasah was built at the Sheybanids’s governing in the 16th century in account of trophies of the nephew of Sheybanikhan – Ubaydallahkhan. Khan gave them to his teacher – the head of Bukhara Muslims Miri. The last came from Yemen and was a pupil of Khodja Akhrar. Madrasah has traditional layout. There are two floors of hudjras surrounding four-ayvaned courtyard. The main façade in the center has a portal with two-storied loggias. Façade is flanked with small towers – guldasta from both sides.

In the center of gurkhana (burial vault) there is a wooden gravestone of Ubaydallahkhan. Sheikh Miri Arab’s tomb is situated at the head. We can see carved mosaic in the decoration of the mosque. This construction is included into the ensemble of the minaret and the mosque of Kalon. Nowadays, there is an acting spiritual school on the territory of this madrasah.

Chor-Minor Madrasah ‘Four Minarets’: Known as madrasah Halif Niyazkul (in Persian 'Four minarets') was built by a merchant in 1807 in Bukhara. Entrance in madrasah reminds buildings with four towers like minarets, that’s why the building is called Chor-Minor.

The building is located in an open area behind Labi- House. Madrasah construction is very unusual, so Chor-Minor is considered only as gate of the lost madrasah. However, if you look attentively, you will see that Chor-Minor is a complex consisting of buildings which have at least two functions – ritual and residential.

The main building with towers is a mosque. Despite its unusual construction, the mosque has rather ordinary interior. People often performed ritual ceremonies, which included recitation, singing and instrumental music.

Also living rooms are attached to the walls. Thus, for the functioning of madrasah lacks only a classroom – 'darshona' and some outbuildings like dining-room 'oshhona'.  There were no classrooms in Bukhara. Such madrasahs were used for student hostels. All minarets have different shape and design.

In some elements, you can see something resembling a cross, the Christian fish and Buddhist prayer wheels. It’s believed that such decoration reflects religious - philosophical comprehension of the four world religions.

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