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Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities in Central Asia.Long ago it was nicknamed as “Bukhoroi - sharif ” - “ Noble Bukhara”. The city is more than 2500 years old dating back to the Bukhara oasis (Sogdiana) mentioned in Avesta - the holy book of Zoroastranism.As some sources say, the word Bukhara is taken Most of the monuments in this romantic Eastern city, which attracts tourists from all over the world, date back to the Middle Ages.
In the ancient past, the Bukhara oasis formed part of Sogdiana, a vast region of Central Asia which had been conquered by Alexandr of Macedon.After seizing Samarkand, Alexandr spearheaded his legions deep into the Bukhara oasis.
The process of town formation was very active and the ancient settlements surrounding Bukhara developed into towns Varaksha, Vrdanzi, Ramish (Ramitan), Kermine, Paikend. Archeologists conducting excavations at Varakhsha have discovered an early feudal palace of the bukharkhudats displaying exquisite mural paintings in no way inferior to the famous murals of Pendikent.
All these towns had more or less a similar structural pattern: the ark (citadel), the shakhristan - well - planned residential core, and a necropolis beyond the town limits where crypts were built to accommodate ceramic urns with the bones of the dead.
Architectural monuments and sights of Bukhara.
More than 140 monuments have remained in Bukhara. Most of the monuments in this romantic Eastern city, which attracts tourists from all over the world, date back to the Middle Ages. The old citadel, the monument of Bukhara was the nucleus of this medieval town.
The Arc citadel.
The oldest monument in Bukhara - the Ark citadel (from the Persian “Arg”) and residence of the local rulers was built on an artificial hillock. It dates back to the third century B.C. Legend, however, refers us to even greater depths in history, and associates the ancient fortress with the names of mythical characters from the ancient eastern epic poem “Shakhname” which was handed down from generation to generation. Here is what the sixteenth - century chronicle says:” the citadel in Bukhara was built for the following reason. Siyavush Ibn - Keikavus fled his father. He crossed the Djeihun and went to Afrasiyab who received him kindly and gave him his daughter in marriage. It is said that (Afrasiab) gave all his property to him. Siyavush wished to leave the memory of himself in these lands because he knew life was short and would not favour him. Thus he ordered the construction of the Bukhara citadel and lived init most of the time. When slander (gave rise to enmity) Afrasiab killed him. Siyavush was buried in the same citadel at the entrance to the eastern gates which are called “Kakfurushan” (vendors of the hay) and also known as “Gates of Gurian”. The fire - worshippers of Bukhara, for this reason, revere the given land. Every year, on the day of Navruz before dawn people bring a rooster to the place. The people of Bukhara have special laments to commemorate the killing (of Siyavush). Musicians have set them to music and call them “lament of the Magi”. These words are pronounced over three thousand years. Some say that Afrasiyab built the Bukhara citadel. The Ark was a city in itself and comprised closely spaced courtyards, offices, the residence of the emir, his wives, relatives and courtiers. Within the trapezoidal fortifications the construction layout was rectangular with the crossing of the main streets facing the four sides of the world. The Ark housed the residence of the emir, including the salomkhona ( greeting hall), the kurinishkhona ( audience chamber), the police department, the stables, various store houses, the treasury, the armory, the prison, the mint, mosques, mausoleums, jewelers’ workshops. Just outside the western walls of the citadel was the marketplace or Registan (registan is a Persian word which means “sandy place”.
Opposite the Ark, at a small pond, is the Bolo hauz mosque built in 1712: a richly decorated iwan was added by the last emir of Bukhara emir Alimkhan early in the XXth century. On Fridays Emir himself would come down to this mosque for prayer. The colors and carvings on the columns and the coffered ceiling are remarkable.
Another interesting monument is the nearby mausoleum Chashma Ayub (the Well of Job). By its style it belongs to the XIIth century but the inscription above the entrance gives the date of a reconstruction as 1380, or 1384.The conical shape of the cupola, in contrast to the usual bulbous one, is a an element alien to Transoxiana. In one can see the influence of Khorezm style, as it was built by Khorezmian builders brought in by Amir Timur after destruction of Gurganj.
The oldest monument in Central Asia, the mausoleum of Samanids, sometimes described as the tomb of Ismail Samanid is located in a park to the west of The Ark citadel. Ismail Samanid ruled Bukhara from the end of the IXth century to the beginning of the Xth. According to some historians this building is linked by all its principal elements to the pre - Islamic Soghdian traditions when architecture still had to make use of less solid and less durable materials - wood and sun-baked bricks. It is one of the rare monuments which have survived undamaged from pre - Mongol times.
The Poi - Kalyan Complex.
Once the Karakhanid ruler of Bukhara Arslan-khan, decided to build a new minaret. It was erected in 1127 and was named “Minorai Kalon” - “The Great Minaret”. This impressive tower, 47 meters high (170 feet) with a diameter at the bottom of 9 meters (40 feet) is cylindrical structure of baked bricks. Travelers approaching the city on their “ships of desert” - camels, fastened their eyes on the minaret as if it were a lighthouse shining in the darkness. The name of the tower is no accident-minaret. Minora means “lighthouse” in Arabic. Its unusual architectural form, taller than most buildings of its time, was generally used in many other monuments built later. The “Minorai Kalon” visually united the buildings of the city and served as a prime example of architectural perfection, exuding the pride of architects through the centuries. The area at the foot of the minaret is called Poi -Kalyan - “The foot of the great”. The main mosque of the city, Masjidy - Kalyan”, has been standing on this ground since the XIIth century. After reconstruction in the early sixteenth century by the Sheybanid khan Abdullakhan, the mosque received its present appearance. There is the traditional rectangular yard, 430 by 270 feet, with four iwans on the axes. Domed arcades surround the yard; there are 288 small cupolas supported by mighty columns. The role of mosques in the East was different to the West where the city’s government gave rise to town councils. It embodied the religious unity of the members of urban communities.
Just opposite the main entrance, is the portal of another monumental building - the Mir - i - Arab Madrasa (a religious college), built in 1535. Among the numerous madrasas built in this area this madrasa is one of the best. The Sheybanid khan Ubaydulla Khan provided the builder, Sheikh Mir - i - Arab, who had come to Bukhara from Yemen, with money gained from the sale of several thousand Shi’ite Persians into slavery. He himself and Sheikh Mir - i - Arab lie buried in one of the corner rooms. The style of the madrasa is horizontal; a rectangular yard with four iwans surrounded by four two - storey wings of cells. There are two domed halls, right and left of the main portal. Next to this portal are two domes, one for the assembly hall, and the other for the mosque, supported by cylindrical drums. Mir - i - Arab is the only madrasa in Central Asia that has served the same purpose for more than 400 years - it was one of the two Muslim colleges allowed to operate in the former Soviet Union.
A feature of sixteenth century Bukhara was a number of domed bazaars built by the Sheibanid khans. Several of them have survived; still retaining their original names derived from their function - Toki Zargaron (the Cupola of Jewelers), Toki Telpakfurushon (the cupola of Cap - Makers), Toki - Sarrofon (the Cupola of Money - Changers). Usually there is the main dome over the actual crossroads and around it a group of smaller and lower cupolas covering the shop premises. Near Sarrofon bazaar is the oldest surviving mosque in Central Asia - the Magak - i - Attari, dating from the twelfth century and built on a site where there was already a temple in Soghdian period.the main twelfth century façade, now about 5 meters below ground level, was uncovered and restored in 1930.
Around the water reservoir Labi - hauz is another architectural complex of central Bukhara. It includes two madrasa - The Kukeltash and the Nadir Devanbegi and The Nadir Devanbegi Khanaka (hostel).The Kukeltash madrasa (1568) contains 160 cells and therefore one of the biggest of its kind. In the corners are octagonal vestibules around which the cells are grouped radially. The Nadir Devanbegi madrasa (1622) on the East side of the pool, was originally designed as a caravanserai, but was soon converted for a more pious purpose.Rather crude mosaic depicting imaginary birds of paradise decorates the entrance iwan, lined with an inscription frieze in ornamental Kufic.
The so - called Char - Minar (Four Minarets), built in 1807, is a little building full of character. It consists of four turrets with small turquoise cupolas and a square domed house between them. Originally, it was a gatehouse to a madrasa, built by a wealthy merchant, Khalif Niyazkul, for his four daughters. This little structure ranks among the most original monuments of late Muslim Bukhara. West of the city, a large necropolis called Char Bakr was the burial - ground of the Juybar clan. There are two large seventeenth-century monuments: a khanaka and a mosque, a small minaret, a cemetery and a small mausoleum of Khodja Islam, also built in1660. North of the city is the mausoleum of Hazret Bahauddin Naqshbandi, the founder of Naqshbandiya order. The monument, dating from mid-fourteenth century, is an important pilgrim place of Muslims. Sitorai Mohi Khosa, built in 1910, was the summer palace of the last emir, emir Alimkhan. Now the palace houses the museums of traditional clothes and embroidery.
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