0 In Central Asia/ Trip Guide/ Uzbekistan

Samarqand: Part 1

After the dusty brown country side of Urgut, Samarkand was a colorful relief. I have become obsessed with the blue and green tiles of Uzbekistan. Actually, I’ve really just become obsessed with all the handicrafts this country has to offer. I’m sorry if I continue to talk about them until I move back home, they will never get old. Samarkand, “The Mirror of the World” “Rome of the East”, was almost too much to handle in terms of beautiful tile. Am I right!?:

Sherry dropped my off at my hotel and gave me his number in case I needed a driver the next day. I stuffed it away expecting never to see him again. My constant restless feet put me in the hotel for a mere 30 minutes before I was out the door to see the city during the last few hours of light. During all my excitement in Urgut I had forgotten to eat. As I walked down the main boulevard I kept passing people with soft serve ice cream. I know I know, here I am in one of the most historical places known for it’s beauty and cuisine. I should have been searching for Plov and their famous bread, but there I stood staring at soft serve ice cream. I quickened my pace, until there it was! A man selling it on the side of one of Uzbekistan’s many burger bar chains. I did it. I bought a cone for 1000 so’m ($0.50). Yes, I will admit that it was my first meal and it was completely worth it. This isn’t a post about my ice cream addiction though. Just beyond my sweet discovery was Registan Square, “Sandy Place”:

Registan Square is the heart of Samarkand. I should maybe back up and explain a little about Samarkand though (I knew next to nothing about it before moving here). It’s one of the most ancient cities of the world, formerly known as Afrasiab. During the time of Alexander the Great, it was one of the key trading centres on the Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean. After the Mongols and Ghinggis Khan destroyed the city, by destroyed, I mean completely obliterated it:

The city was rebuilt (next to where it originally stood) and returned to it’s former prosperity during the reign of Amir Timur. Most of Samarkand’s well-known architectural monuments were built by Timur. Registan, the most well-known of them, consists of 3 Madrasahs (Muslim educational institution):

I was glad I left my hotel room even though everyone warned me it was getting dark and cold soon. As I turned the corner into the square the last bits of daylight were hitting the turqouise tiles just perfectly. It was a panorama of light against the music and bustle of the city. All I could come up with was, “oh my god”. I think I started running (like towards ice cream) towards the buildings out of excitement before I heard a woman screaming after me that I needed to pay. Of course. The inside of the buildings have now been taken over by people selling things. Mostly the usual things for tourists. Luckily I was there during the off season, so I was mostly left alone to wander the square:

After seeing the Registan I found a ride to Khoja Daniyar Mausoleum or Daniel’s Grave as I kept trying rather unsuccessfully to explain to drivers. This is one of the most sacred places in Samarkand because he’s both a notable Koranic and Biblical prophet. It’s located on the northern side of Afrasiab (the old city that had been destroyed). Amir Timur brought Daniel’s remains, namely his hand, to Samarkand from Babylon. The legend is that as Timur was bringing Daniel into the city his horse stopped on the northern side of the old city and would not move. Spring water started to gush where the horse had kicked it’s hoof so Timur ordered his remains to be buried there. Next to the mausoleum, every person must drink the water and wash any exposed part of the body. It has become a pilgrimage point:

Love Love.

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