Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz
Historic Centre Of Shakhrisyabz
Cultural Uzbekistan Asia And The Pacific Kashkadarya Region

Shakhrisyabz contains many fine monuments, and in particular those from the Timurid period, which was of great cultural and political significance in medieval Central Asia. The buildings of Shakhrisyabz, notably the Ak-Sarai Palace and the Tomb of Timur, are outstanding examples of a style which had a profound influence on the architecture of this region.

The historic centre contains a collection of exceptional monuments and ancient quarters which bear witness to its centuries of history, and particularly to its apogee under the empire of Timur in the 15th century.

Archaeological excavations have revealed traces of occupation by farming communities dating from the 1st millennium BC. In later periods, Hellenistic cities arose. The town of Shakhrisyabz was constructed according to a model typical of the high Middle Ages, with a central structure similar to that of Samarkand and Bukhara. The town continued to develop throughout the 9th and 10th centuries, despite the incessant conflicts between the Samanid dynasties and then between Turkish tribes. In the mid-14th century, a great empire was built up by Timur, who lavished constant attention on the town of his birth. Until his death in 1405, he ordered the construction of encircling walls, the grandiose Ak-Sarai Palace, mosques, baths and caravanserais, deporting the finest architects and artisans, captured during his military campaigns, to Shakhrisyabz. After the fall of the Timurid dynasty, the town was relegated to a position of secondary importance, dependent on the Khanate of Bukhara.

The World Heritage site consists of a number of monuments, including:

  • Ak-Sarai Palace : Construction of the 'White Palace', as it was known, began in 1380, the year following Timur's conquest of Khorezm, whose artisans were deported to work on the palace and provide its rich decoration. The dimensions of this magnificent edifice can be deduced from the size of the gate-towers, traces of which still survive: two towers each 50m in height, and an arch with a span of 22m.
  • Dorus Saodat complex . This vast complex was destined as a place of burial for the ruling family and contained, in addition to the tombs themselves, a prayer hall, a mosque, and accommodation for the religious community and pilgrims. The main facade was faced with white marble. The tomb of Timur, also of white marble, is a masterpiece of the architecture of this period.
  • Chor-su bazaar and baths : In the town centre, the covered Chor-su bazaar was built at the crossroads of two main streets, in the form of an octagon with a central cupola, with no particular decoration but with an eye to the exterior effect of bold architecture. This construction dates from the 18th century, as do the baths, rebuilt on the site of the 15th-century baths and still in use today. The baths are heated by an elaborate network of underground conduits.

In addition to its monuments, the town also offers a variety of interesting constructions of a more modern period, including the Mirhamid, Chubin, Kunduzar and Kunchibar mosques. Period houses reflect a more popular architectural style, with rooms typically laid out around a courtyard with veranda.