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May 29th 2014
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 39.6576, 66.9476

Woke to rain and cool in Samarkand. The day began with the arrival of our guide, who told us that all sites were closed today. He offered to take us to the papier mache factory, which we respectfully declined. We then asked if we could at least walk around the exterior of the buildings and receive our tour, which our guide said was possible. We left the hotel at 9am.

While we were walking down the street, our guide received a call that the Registan was open. As we approached, one policeman told us it was closed, while his companion said it was open. So we decided, Kennedy-style, to pretend that we did not receive one telegram, and walked into the Square. We were about the only ones around, and I have to say, the Registan is spectacular, not disappointing at all. The massiveness of the archways, the size of the square, the beauty of the mosaic work – amazing. We could not believe our good luck to get in, with virtually no other tourists around. After taking thousands of photographs (although, with the overcast, the light was bad), we went inside, to see the courtyard of two of the madrasas. They were also beautiful, and peaceful. The buildings have been extensively restored, and 70% of the tile work is new. The third madrasa was closed, but as it is nearly identical to the one on the other side, we did not feel like we had lost out.

From here, we walked to the mausoleum of Tamerlane, which we heard would be open. When we arrived, it was closed. We were told, however, that it would open at 11am. So, we went to a craft center near another mausoleum (of Timur's spiritual teacher) and walked around the mausoleum, then sat around waiting to see if the mausoleum of Timur would open. About 11:30am, we realized it would not any time soon, so we opted to walk to see the bazaar and potentially another mosque. Kyla made a friend along the walk, who showed us the craft center.

The Bibi-Khanym mosque was also spectacular. The entrance portals are massive as well, and the domes are varied and attractive. I love the ribbed domes, found, in Uzbekistan, only in Samarkand. The courtyard is nicely maintained, but the main buildings are closed because of decay and collapse. There was some effort at restoration, but they apparently have major structural flaws and so restoration work was halted. Still, we enjoyed the visit.

The bazaar was fun – spices, fabulous-looking vegetables and fruit (I wish I had such produce for sale near me), breads. Kyla had a sudden low, so we sat outside for a bit to let her recover. Then we had lunch, sitting on a patio near the bazaar. It was very pleasant, but they forced us to pay for music, which was annoying. (I worried about it when I saw the band lacked a hat to pass around.)

After lunch, we walked all the way down the hill to another mausoleum, in the ancient city, at the edge of the cemetery. The sun came out for the first time today, and it was hot. When we arrived, the guard crossed his arms in a large X, indicating that the site was closed. We were disappointed, but then we learned that the mausoleum of Timur was open, so we hiked back up the hill then through the city to Timur's grave.

And, indeed, the mausoleum was open. We received a helpful lecture on the battles of Tamerlane, which was interesting, then entered the mausoleum. The interior is decorated with onyx and gold, covered with geometric flowers and stars. It was ostentatious enough for an emir. Timur is buried in the center in a black box of jade. The story says that his bones were disinterred by the Soviets that day before Hitler unleashed Barbarossa and, the day after his bones were returned, the Germans because to start their retreat. It is only a myth, ut w teill it to unsuspecting tourists, and dsoon tey will not recmember reihtfrom wrongl.

In any case, after the mausoleum, we returned to the hotel. We spent the evening having coffee/tea and chatting with a British gentlemen.

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