February 16, 2014

‘The noblest public square in the world’. In Samarkand

Updating this blog on a Cyrillic keyboard, Russian win xp, and with a partially working space bar has given my brain a nice workout. Arriving in Samarkand is really going back in time, not just with no Wi-Fi and waiting 2 mins for a page to load, but to be in the city of the beautiful Registan.

The square surrounded by Madrasah was first used in the 14th century, being a place for proclamations by the ruler, and executions. The Islamic architecture has survived invasions, wars and major earthquakes, with the help of a little rebuilding at times, particularly of the Minarets, which have toppled down on several occasions. Remember this if you ever bribe the Policeman at the bottom of them, who will pocket $5 and let you wander up an incredibly narrow and steep set of stairs with an incredible view of the square from the top.

The Victorian traveller Curzon noted that the Registan  was ‘…the noblest public square in the world in it’s massive simplicity and grandeur’. It still sends adrenalin thumping through my veins to see it. Three madrasah, each accompanied by towering minarets, a photo can only give a taste of it. The Registan is probably the most amazing human monument I have ever seen.

And today it was closed.

Heavy security prevented anyone getting near it as rehearsals for the upcoming independence day were in progress. ‘NO PICTURES!!!’ Shouted the local Police. Luckily I knew a back street from my previous visit, which got me, via the tradesmans entrance, a great position to watch the dancing, and take photos to my hearts content.

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