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A Treasure of Samarkand: The Beauty & History of Shah-i-Zinda

Shah-i-Zinda is one Samarkand’s most beloved sites, which contains some of the richest tile work in the world. The magnificent architecture draws inspiration from multiple periods & styles, taking you back through time & across cultures...

Image credit Isabelle Patrick


The Shah-i-Zinda ensemble includes mausoleums, mosques & other ritual buildings of 11-15th & 19th centuries. The name Shah-i-Zinda (meaning "The living king") is connected with the legend that Qutham ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, is buried here.

Image credit Ash Diler


Shah-i-Zinda is a world-famous example of a continuously constructed historical site. Over 1,000 years ago, it was founded with a single religious monument. Between the 11th & 19th centuries, mosques & mausoleums were continuously added. The result is a fascinating cross-reference of diverse architectural styles, methods & decorative craftsmanship.

Image credit Fulvio Spada


The surreal landscape makes unique use of geometric lines combined with multi patterned tiles around doorways or on towers dating back more than eight centuries - all converging into an exquisite visual impact.

Doors of Shah-i-Zinda

Image credit Graham Hurst


In 2001, UNESCO added the city to its World Heritage List as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures.

Image credit Jean-Pierre Dalbera


What also lends majestic charm to the necropolis are several tombs adorned with highly decorated mosaics which symbolize endless life beyond death according to the Bokharan tradition, which is still practiced in villages in northern Uzbekistan today.

Image credit Hummlington


Bright pastel blues mingling within emblematic birds sceneries recalling paradise gardens, influences from Central Asian culture and Quranic scriptures.

Image credit Fulvio Spada


The revered sanctuary contains an array of elongated chapels wonderfully decorated with vivid paint, floral designs stars plus geometric motifs on majolica tiles; adding more depth than words could possibly convey.

Image credit Mike Gadd


Stunning mosaics depict Persian lore and literature, including characters such as Khosrow Parviz’ and his court. Other narrated scriptures include that of Warrior Zayd ibn al–Khattab.

Highly detailed ornate scripts crafted skillfully reused marbles alongside gilded terracotta carvings framing majestic other materials used for decoration throughout entire complex - all pointing towards heaven sacred portals nearby atmospheric cemetery.

Image credit Jess Roaming


Sleek pathways passing through ancient tombs leading up until bell tower buried under Himalayan mountains constructed honor Highest seven Mujahids Kings make their way towards gates Arbain Mosque.

Image credit Dplp


Welcoming visitors into the mosque, La ilaha illa Allahu Muhammad Rasulallah "which translates perfectly translated beloved Prophet Muhammad everlasting legacy “There no God apart our Lord” stands engraved in stone.

Image credit Fulvio Spada


Significant of the nature of the Silk Road itself, the necropolis is truly a melting pot of Arab, Persian, Turkic, local and Chinese influences, making it one of Uzbekistan’s most mysterious and breathtaking attractions today which draws countless tourists each year.

Image credit Lukes Tracks


After surviving more than seven centuries with only minor touch-up work, many of the tombs were restored in 2005. As a result, much of the mosaic, majolica & terracotta work you see today is not original.

Image credit The Adventures of Nicole


In every corner divine symbolism reveals not only complex architectural influences surrounding Silk Roads culture exchange regions but also serene storytelling craftsmanship rewarded since long gone ages.

Image credit Sadhia


Sources of Inspiration & Information


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