Bukhara - the Holy City
In Sanskrit the word "Bukhara" means "the monastery". In the medieval times it was the big commercial center along the Great Silk Road
. Bukhara is an "open air museum city"; it has more than 140 architectural monuments from the Middle Ages. Such ensembles as Poi-Kalyan, Kos-Madras, Mausoleum of Ismail Samani, Minaret Kalyan and others, erected 2300 years ago, still draw huge attention. Famous poets like Narshahi, Rudaki and Dakiki, the scientist and founder of modern medicine, Avicenna, among others have played an important role in the development of Bukhara, and the world.
Most people who visit Bukhara, will likely pay attention to the strange "shaggy hats" on the top of the minarets. These are storks` nests. And the white bird of hope serves as the city's symbol, a symbol of its firmness and stability. More than once throughout its history this rich city suffered the invasions of various enemies. The most devastating invasion was that of Mongols, but each time Bukhara revived; and what is more, it always revived on the same place, keeping loyalty to its roots.
The foundation of the city goes into the remote ages. In 1997, in a UNESCO decision, the whole cultural world celebrated its 2500 jubilee. The legend connects the appearance of the city with the name of one of the deities of the Zoroastrian pantheon; Siyavush. The most ancient part of Bukhara is its citadel , the Ark, where archaeologists excavated finds dating back to the 4th -3rd century B.C. It is a twenty meter high artificial mound, where the emir`s palace, his harem, treasury, arsenal and cells for criminals were located.
One of the oldest monuments of Bukhara is Ismail Samani mausoleum built at the beginning of the 10th century by the founder of the Samanid dynasty. The mausoleum is a perfect brick cube covered with a hemispherical cupola. The Samanids mausoleum was the first building in Central Asian architecture to be built of fired bricks; moreover, brick is used both as a construction and a decorative element.
The highest vertical line of the city is the Kalon Minaret built in 1127. This is a perfect architectural construction, a colossus, towering 47 meters over the city. Slightly narrowing at the top, with itŐs round tower it is the tallest minaret in Uzbekistan
. From bottom to the top it is trimmed with a relief design of colored bricks. The ornamented bands ringing the minaret emphasize its size and upward direction. At the same time, the diversity and rhythm of ornamental motifs enrich a rather simple and clear architectural form.
The peculiarity of medieval Bukharan architecture became a creation of ensembles consisting of two monumental buildings separated with a street or a square and facing each other. On the basis of this principle, the central ensemble of the city - Poi Kalon square - "At the foot of the Great" - was built. Vaulted galleries connect the minaret with a grandiose Friday mosque, Masjidi-Kalyan. Opposite the mosque, at the beginning of the 16th century, was built Miri-Arab madrassah, which is still functioning.
Chasma-Ayub mazar also dates back to the 12th century. According to the legend, the biblical prophet Ayub was once passing this waterless part of Bukhara, stabbed the ground with his stick and instantly there appeared a source with clear healing water.
It is typical of the East to use artificial pools - hauzes - not only for practical application but also to decorate the city. In Bukhara there functioned more than eighty comfortable pools like this. The most famous one is Lyabi-Hauz, which is surrounded by a plaza with cafes where people gather to eat, smoke and talk throughout the day.
Having been a big capital city, Bukhara was famous not only for its mosques and madrassahs, mausoleums and bazaars but also for its caravan-sarays, baths and multi domed market buildings. These, (the market buildings), have been preserved and are still used as shopping malls Taki-Zargaron ("the Dome of Jewelers"), Telpak-Furushon ("The dome of Hat sellers") and Taki-Saraffon ("Money exchange bazaar"). The names themselves testify to the initial usage of these buildings.
In the Middle Ages Bukhara was an important city for all the Muslims of Central Asia, not only from the religious point of view but also because itŐs aesthetically esteem. Bukhara was considered to be a place of glory; it nurtured the famous people of that period of time. The author of the second most important Islamic book after Koran, the book of authentic khadiths, "Al-jami as sahih" was Imam Al-Bukhari. Abu Ali Ibn Sino (Avicenna) was born in a small village near Bukhara and started his career in the holy city. One of the most respected men in the Islamic world, sheikh Bahauddin Nakshbandi, the founder of the sufi order used to work as a metalworker in Bukhara. A pilgrimage to the holy tomb of the sheikh gave the same status as a Hajii to Mecca. Even nowadays Mausoleum of Nakshbandi is revered as the main holy place of the city.
Bukhara gave the world such eminent people as the historian Narshakhi, poets Rudaki and Dakiki. Even the favorite personage of local folklore, Khodja Nasreddin was also from Bukhara. His wise jokes are countless.
The centuries-old activity of Muslim scientists, thinkers, architects, and poets endowed the city with such titles as "Dome of faith", "Noble Bukhara", "Blessed city", and it seems that Bukhara really deserves all these names.
Historical and architectural monuments of Bukhara:
- The Ark, Bukhara (11th - 12th centuries)
- Ensemble of Bola Hauz, Bukhara (early 18th - 20th centuries)
- Mausoleum of Samani, Bukhara (9th - 10th centuries)
- Mazar of Chashmoi-Ayub, Bukhara (1380 or 1384/1385)
- Madrasah of Abdulla Khan, Bukhara (1596/1598)
- Madrasah of Madari Khan, Bukhara (1556/1557)
- Mosque of Baland, Bukhara (early 16th century)
- Ensemble of Gaukushon, Bukhara (16th century)
- Khonaka of Zaynutdin Khoji, Bukhara (1555)
- Ensemble of Poy - Kalon, Bukhara (12th - 14th century)
- Ensemble of Lyabi Hauz, Bukhara (16th - 17th century)
- Madrasah of Kukeldash, Bukhara (1568/1569)
- Khanaka of Nodir Divanbegi, Bukhara (1620)
- Madrasah of Ulugbek, Bukhara (1417)
- Madrasah of Abdulaziz Khan, Bukhara (1652)
- Mosque of Bola Hauz, Bukhara (1712)
- Mausoleum of Sayfiddin Boharziy, Bukhara
(2nd half of 13th - 14th centuries)
- Mausoleum of Buyon Kuli Khan, Bukhara
(2nd half of 14th, 15th or 16th c.)
- Mosques of Namazgoh, Bukhara (12th - 16th century)
- Khanaka of Fayzabad, Bukhara (1598/1599)
- Madrasah of Chor-minor, Bukhara (1807)
- The Palace of Bukhara Emir Sitorai Mokhi Hosa, Bukhara
(late 19th century)
- Chor-Bakr - The burial place of Jubayri Sheik's family, Bukhara