Bukhara – functioned as one of the main centers of Persian civilization since its early days in the VI century BC – Turkish speakers gradually moved in from the VI century AD.
The city’s architectural and archaeological sites form one of the pillars of Central Asian history and art. The region of Bukhara long formed a part of the Persian Empire. The mausoleum of Samanids is located in the historical urban nucleus of the city of Bukhara, in a park laid out on the site of an ancient cemetery. This mausoleum, which is one of the most esteemed sights of Central Asian architecture, was built in the IX (X) century (between 892 and 943) as the resting-place of Ismail Samani – a powerful and influential amir of the Samanid dinasty, one of the Persian dynasties that ruled in Central Asia, who held the city in the IX and X centuries. Although in the first instance the Samanids were Governors ofKhorasan and Transoxiana under the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate, the dinasty soon established virtual independence from Bagdad. Mausoleum of Chashma-i Ayub is located near the Samani Mausoleum. Its name means Job’s well, due to the legend in which Job (Ayub) visited this place and made a well by striking the ground with his staff. The water of this well is still pure and is considered healing. The current building was constructed during the reign of Timur and features a Khwarazm-style conical dome uncommon in Bukhara. The Mosque of Bolo Khauz is situated opposite to The Ark, where the emirs worshiped. It was built in 1718 with a roof extension supported by karagachi (a rare sycamore-like wood) pillars in the XIX century. The west side is reflected in the XVI century khauz (pool). Most mosques in Bukhara have pools attached to them. The Ark of Bukhara is a massive fortress located in the city of Bukhara, that was initially built and occupied around the V century AC. In addition to being a military structure, the Ark encompassed what was essentially a town, during much of the fortress’ history, it was inhabited by the various royal courts that held sway over the region surrounding Bukhara. The Ark was used as a fortress until 1920. The square of Poi Kalyan (means “The Foot of the Great”), is an Islamic religious complex located around the Grand Minaret. The complex is located in the historic part of the city. Since 713, several ensembles of main mosques were built in this area, to the south of the Ark citadel. One of these complexes, burned down by Genghis Khan during the siege of Bukhara, was built in 1127 by the Karakhanid ruler Arslan-khan. The Grand Minaret is the only one of the structures of Arslan-han complex that was kept safe during that siege. Minaret is known more properly as Minora-i Kalon (“Grand Minaret”). It is also known as the Tower of Death because for centuries criminals were executed by being thrown from the top. The Grand Mosque (Masjid-i Kalon) was completed in 1514.It is equal in size to the Bibi-Khanym Mosque in Samarkand. Although they are both mosques, they are very different in architectural styles. The roof of the galleries encircling the mosque’s inner courtyard has 288 domes resting on 208 pillars. Facing the courtyard there is a tall tiled aiwan portal. The mosque is surmounted by a large blue tiled dome. The Madrassah of Mir-i-Arab is devoted to Sheikh Abdullah Yamani of Yemen. Also called Mir-i-Arab, he was considered the spiritual mentor of Ubaidullah Khan and his son Abdulaziz Khan. Ubaidullah Khan waged a successful war against Iran. At least three times his troops seized Herat. Each plundering raid on Iran resulted in the capture of a great many captives. The money, which Ubaidullah Khan earned from selling three thousand Persian captives, funded in the construction of Mir-i-Arab Madrassa. Ubaidullah Khan was very religious. He had been nurtured in high respect for Islam in the spirit of Sufism. His father named him in honor of prominent sheikh of the XV century Ubaidullah al-Ahrar (1404-1490), by origin from Tashkent province. Taqi Sarrafon – bazar of the moneychangers, Taqi-Telpak Furushon – bazar of the cap makers, Taqi-Zaragon – bazar of the jewelers. Ulugbek’s Madrassa is one of Central Asia’s architectural highlights, built by Ulugbek in 1417, sober and strictly proportioned. Astral elements predominate in its ornamentation and inscription sums up Ulugbek’s life philosophy: “Pursuit of knowledge is the duty of each follower of Islam, man and woman”. Abdulaziz Khan’s Madrassah is located opposite Ulugbek’s Madrassah. The Astrakhanid ruler began its construction in 1652, but the decoration left unfinished when he was driven away by the first of the Mangit emirs. The Mosque of Magoki Attori was constructed on the remains of an older Zoroastrian temple. It was destroyed and rebuilt more than once, and the oldest part now remaining is the south facade, which dates from the XII century, one of the oldest surviving structures in Bukhara. Lower than the surrounding ground, it was excavated in 1935. It is no longer used as a mosque and now it is a carpet museum.
The Lab-i HauzEnsemble (meaning by the pond 1568–1622) is the name of the are
surrounding one of the few remaining hauz (ponds) in the city of Bukhara. Until the Soviet period there were many such ponds, which were the city’s principal source of water, but they were notorious for spreading disease and were mostly filled in during the 1920s and 1930s. The Lab-i Hauz survived because it is the centerpiece of a magnificent architectural ensemble, created during the XVI and XVII centuries, which has not been significantly changed since then.
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