Before really starting this post, please find the above photo (which you can also find in a collage below), which participates in a photo contest. It represents a woman on the local food market at Shahrisabz. You can actually vote for it, by going here. (http://www.voyageursdumonde.fr/voyage-sur-mesure/grand-prix-photo/portraits-de-voyages/shahrisabz)
After a few days in the charming and beautiful city of Bukhara (see preceding post), time for a new bus ride in the direction of Shahrisabz via Karchi, along roads of different qualities alongside a rather arid country, with some views of old settlements, some gas industry complexes, the 16th century strategic (toll) bridge over the river Kashkadarya, different mosques and madrasas.
Shahrisabz is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. Alexander the Great spent quite some time here with his wife Roxanna, regional native, around 328-327 BC. The city was conquered by Arabs in 710…
…but, especially, it was around 1350 the birthplace of the Turko-Mongol ruler Timur (Tamerlane), today some kind of national hero in Uzbekistan. He was (and is) probably less appreciated in some neighbour countries, having conquered and sacked cities like Baghdad, Delhi, Damascus… , having destructed the Christian Church in much of Asia. He managed to unify large parts of the Muslim world – he referred to himself as the “Sword of Islam”… It is estimated that his campaigns meant the death of some 17 million people, equal to 5% of those days’ world population. Timur is however clearly considered as a military genius and tactician and also as a great patron of art and architecture.
Here we can see a contemporary portrait of him and an illustration of the empire he controlled at his death in 1405, including most of today’s ‘stan-countries, Iran, large parts of Iraq and Syria.
In Shahrisabz one can visit the rests of the Aq-Saray Palace, which Timur ordered in 1380. Only traces of its 65 m ((215 ft) gate-towers remain. Timur has his statue. Important works are ongoing to embellish it environment.
Close to the nearby Dar ut Tilovat and Dorus-Saodat mosques and mausoleums you can find what was intended to be the tomb of Timur. There is some kind of a bunker with an underground chamber, discovered in 1943. Timur was however never buried here, but in Samarkand (more about it in a later post).
Again, a visit to the local nearby market.
From Shahrisabz to Samarkand, the road crosses some mountains (see also top picture) and buses are not allowed. The streets go from wide to narrow and jumpy, sometimes with a cow passing…
Cows, horses, donkeys... walk along without any protecting fences and are nice to look at.