Islamic Architecture in Samarkand

When you think of places to go and things to see Uzbekistan might seem a little bit off the beaten track.  While Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey might be more well-known, Islamic art is not limited to these countries.  Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2001, the town of Samarkand in Uzbekistan holds many excellent examples of Islamic Art. Originally founded as a trade outpost in the 6th Century BCE, Samarkand was near several of the important Central Asian trade routes.  The town existed through several different periods of rule including that of Alexander the Great. Islamic influence took hold after Samarkand was  conquered by “Kuteiba-ibn-Muslim in 712 CE.” During this time “mosques, administrative centres, places of learning, courts, and treasuries” were constructed.  Building on centuries of Islamic influence, monuments such as the Registan Mosque and the Gur Emir funerary complex show impact of Islamic art and architecture in the region.

While Uzbekistan might seem far off and not worth the trip, it has wonderful monuments described as “masterpieces of Islamic cultural creativity.” Increased tourism, especially with the popularity of finding the newest undiscovered and unspoiled tourist locations, would benefit the region. Money received from tourism would help economic growth and increase attention and awareness of these cultural treasures.

Virtual Tour of Samarkand:



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2 Responses to Islamic Architecture in Samarkand

  1. ldvenanzi says:

    I also find this interesting, because I know absolutely nothing about Uzbekistan and I had never really thought of Islamic art existing outside of the Middle East. I was initially drawn to this blog entry, because I recognized Samarkand from being one of the possible locations where the white bowl with Kufic border was found, but I had just assumed that it was left there by travelers. To learn that this region was another well-developed town with Islam at the center of it makes me wonder whether the bowls were mass-produced or created on an individual basis for the artist’s own pleasure.

  2. mejamerson says:

    I think this post is really interesting because it sheds light on a country that not most people think of. I think it’s good that more attention is being drawn to Uzbekistan for its Islamic art because it emphasizes the fact that Islamic art is not limited to the more well-know, typical countries its usually associated with. Most people don’t really think of Islamic art existing in countries other than these, but as this post shows, and others, like the museum in Athens, Greece, shows how the culture of Islam is very prevalent throughout the world. The culture resides mainly in the Middle East but spans all the way across to America, like the exhibit coming to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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