When it comes to legendary places like Timbuktu, Shangri-la or Xanadu, Samarkand also ranks up there – thanks in part to its most-impressive ancient structure: the Registan.
For this is the grand Silk Road city of the medieval Islamic warrior and empire builder, Timur (known in the West as Tamerlane: “Temur the Lame” due to a leg injury).
Due to its position mid-way along the Silk Road between China and Rome, Samarkand became one of the greatest cities in Central Asia.
Early on, it was an ancient Persian city that the Greeks called Maracanda (Alexander The Great visited it; mud ruins remain at the city limits). Later it was part of the Abbasid Empire – based in Iraq – before Timur in 1370, decided to make Samarkand the capital of his vast empire – stretching from India to Turkey.
Across the Timurid Dynasty period and beyond, classic Islamic monuments were built across Samarkand.
The Registan is one of the most amazing examples of Islamic architecture anywhere … It was originally a public square framed by three religious schools built by rulers between 1417 – 1660 AD: Madrasa of Ulugh Beg; Sher-Dor Madrasah; Tilya-Kori Madrasah.