About Bukhara


Venerable Bukhara is one of the Central Asian ancient and hollowed cities. Originally it was located on the sacred hill, where people made sacrifies about which stated in the holy “Avesto”. According to some reliable sources, ancient Bukhara is presumed to be founded in the XIII century BC during the governing of Siyavushids, the name derived from the word “vihara” which means “monastery” in  old Sanskrit.

Bukhara has been a native town for numerous world-famous scholars, a school for various bright scientists, fortress for many sage people, such as Imam al- Bukhari, Sheikh Bakhouddin Nakshbandi, Avitsena, so and so for. It used to be the centre of culture and science all the times therefore this city has always been mentioned with a great respect by historians.  During the Middle Ages Bukhara used to be one of the important cities of Central Asia.


Today Bukhara with its 350 mosques, over a hundred religious educational institutions, more than 140 architectural monuments is cited as “town museum” and listed in the Heritage of UNESCO. Although the historical monuments belong to different ages they are located so near to each other, as a consequence of which it appears a harmony of eastern and Islamic construction. Among them Poi-Kalyon, Labi Hovuz, Ismail Samanids Mausoleum, the Arch Fortress, seven Saints of Bukhara appeal a lot of attention of the world.


Located in Sumitan village, Chor Bakr ensemble represents the XVI century’s highest architectural achievements of the region. It is the burial place of Djuybarsk sheikhs, the religious leaders of Islam, descendants of Prophet Muhammad.

It was established in honour of Hodja Abu Bakr Said who was the mentor of Abdullakhon II for 20 years. After his death the ruler ordered to erect a complex to immortalize his scholar’s name. This complex is also named as a ‘’town of deads’’ as there are streets, yards, gardens, a mosque, gates and family tombs – instead of houses. Along the five-kilometre road on the two sides canals were dug, trees were planted to make it shady when Abdullakhon II was going to the Necropolis.

The Chor Bakr Necropolis includes the mosque, khanaka(cloister), madrasah, necropolis, and a big orchard with planes, poplars, willows, and different fruit trees. Besides, there you can enjoy flower gardens of roses.

In the XX century to main Chor Bakr complex a small minaret, resembling Kalyan in Bukhara, was added. The major components of the complex were decorated with masonry figures and mosaics.


As a component of the Lyabi Hauz architectural complex Kukeldash Madrasah is considered the biggest madrasah sized 80 x 60 in Bukhara. It was constructed with the initiative of Abdullakhan in 1569 and the organizer was Emir Kulbaba who kept his position as a kokaldosh for the seven Khans’ period from Sheibanids dynasty. Emir Kulbaba assisted Abdullakhan to gather political support and participated his enthroning ceremony. So the Kukaldash Madrasah was named after significant dignitary – Kulbaba Kukaldash.

The madrasah has 160 hujras(cells) located in the two stores. The madrasah façades are decorated with majolica. The main façade faces to the Lyabi Hauz around of which several historical monuments are situated. in the façade you can see a hall, a mosque, and a darskhana(classroom). The inner part of the building is of particular significance due to compound star-shaped ornaments diversity made of baked-bricks or ganch. The hall deco was kept well; the doors of the halls present the masterpieces of Bukhara wood-carving school.

Up to now the madrasah was used in different purposes: it served as a defensive fortress, caravanserai, executional place. In the end of the XIX century one of the Uzbek writers Sadriddin Ayniy studied here.


Ulugbek Madrasah constructed in 1417, is one of the ancient buildings in Bukhara. The madrasah was built on the donation made by Mirzo Ulugbek, who visited to madrasah in November, 1419. About his trip to Bukhara historian Abdurazzak Samarkandiy wrote: ‘’Shahzad Ulugbek was pleased to visit the madrasah, located within the city of Bukhara and constructed due to its exceptional generosity’’.

Till now Ulugbek Madrasah has been repaired several times, first repairmen was conducted during the reign of Ubaydulla Khan (1533-1539). At that times Ulugbek Madrasah used to be an important educational institution where outstanding scholars, scientists, poets, calligraphers studied.

The next reconstruction was made in 1586 about which archival documents were kept. In the XIX-XX centuries the madrasah was redecorated by Bukhara Emirate.

Today Bukhara with its 350 mosques, over a hundred religious educational institutions, more than 140 architectural monuments is cited as “town museum” and listed in the Heritage of UNESCO. Although the historical monuments belong to different ages they are located so near to each other, as a consequence of which it appears a harmony of eastern and Islamic construction. Among them Poi-Kalyon, Labi Hovuz, Ismail Samanids Mausoleum, the Arch Fortress, seven Saints of Bukhara appeal a lot of attention of the world.

On the eve of 600-year-anniversary of Mirzo Ulugbek, in 1994 in the madrasah the following works were performed: the main portal was restored with Arabic inscription, harness majolica, galleries restored partly in the first and second floors, landscaped yard with lowered surface before the main portal.

Made of calcium carbonate( limestone) a small cauldron was placed near the middle column, into which pouring water the liquid becomes warm, and the attendants of the madrasah thought it to be a miracle. The historian Yahya Gulamov says that the inscriptions on the columns reflect the most ancient types of wood carving samples throughout Uzbekistan.


One of the religious constructions situated in Bukhara is Chashma Ayyub, erected in 1380. The complex is situated near Samani  park, the complex repeatedly rebuilt in the XIV century and elongated in form with various sized topped domes over the premises.

Including a mausoleum and holy spring, the complex consists of four rooms arranged from west to east. The components of the ensemble were built in different times. The oldest one is put a high conical dome, which was credited by Arslan Khan, according to a legend.

The construction of the architectural monument is connected with the name of Holy Job in Bible. They say that in ancient times when people dwelling in this city began dying of thirst the Prophet Ayyub – Holy Job came to these places. Inhabitants asked for help, as soon as Job struck his staff on the ground out of scoring key cold water came out. After that this place was called Chashmai Ayyub which means ‘’ Spring of Job’’


Magoki Attor Mosque is considered the oldest mosque in Bukhara built in the XII century. It is situated near to the Lyabi Havuz Complex, in the downtown.

After Arabs conquered Bukhara established first mosques on the sites of former temples, so Magoki Attor was also erected on the center of fire-worshipper temple. Proving that in the beginning of the last century the south portal of the monument with ancient glazed pottery carved ornaments and magnificent ornamental brickwork  was discovered under the layer of the soil. This discovery belong to XII century is considered architectural masterpiece of Bukhara.

To decorate the portal arch applied and patterned brickwork sets adorned with filling girihi, ornamented terra-cotta tiles were used, they framed the entrance arch. The mosque was adorned with carved stucco and paintings, constructed symmetrically which makes it different from the other Medieval religious buildings and recall some peculiarities of Zoroastrism.


Located in front of Ulugbek Madrasah, the Abdulazizkhan Madrasah was erected in 1652 and has a particular place among the historical monuments of Bukhara. Its splendid decorations, mainly exterior ornaments, make the construction outstanding in the Central Asian architecture.

In the exaggerated forms of luxury decorating you can observe the adorned images of Chinese dragon and legendary bird Semurg. What’s more, it is a brilliant example of Bukhara wood-carving art as visitors can see pieces of fine art on each door of the Madrasah.

However, the inner part of the building is not as embossed as the outer one. There is a mosque and darskhona without any deco, while the summer mosque and the dome reflect simple ornamental samples.

There are hujras built in the same type, sunlight lightens them through the panjaras installed above the entrance doors. Inside some of them a low wooden shelf was put to keep food or other household items.


Mausoleum of Samanids is an outstanding architectural monument, built in the IX century by the order of Ismail Samani, who established a centralized state in the Central Asia.

The speciality of the construction is in using bricks as a decoration of walls which can not be found in any other architecture in the world. Bricks specially prepared forming various geometric shapes, such as circle, embossed the facades, were laid flat in the corners or on the edges. The configurations of baked-bricks arranged in over twenty forms, appeal the visitors with its simplicity. Sized 7.20 to 7.20 meters room has four entrances on each side with a lancet arch on the façade.

The construction of the mausoleum where Samanids dynasty tombs were buried is linked with the traditions of Zoroastrian funerary adhered in ancient Sogd. The experts state that several such decorated buildings and fire temples have been preserved in Uzbekistan


Venerable Bukhara can also appeal the visitors with Ark Fortress built in the V century BC. Including 4.2 ha, it was located on the artificial hill which is 20 meters high. It was erected as a citadel, then afterwards used as the main residence of the Bukhara rulers for a long time.

Majority of the buildings in the Ark were constructed during XVII-XX centuries, there the emirs and khans of Bukhara showed off the bureaucratic grandness and military commanders. According to historical scripts, in the Ark over three thousand people lived in the beginning of the XX century.

The Ark is a closed polygon which is surrounded with a fortified wall which was built two or three centuries ago. Up to now the Ark Fortress has been repaired several times, and today the most astonishing area is situated in the northern part of the wall slope. Visitors can enjoy the Ark Regional Museum located in this ancient monument, where you can imagine to be brought back to ancient times…


Bakhauddin Nakshbandi Complex is one of the lovely pilgrimages of visitors from Muslim World. His golden phrases: Dil ba Yor-u,

Dast ba kor – meaning ‘soul in Allah, hands in work’, is the fundamental idea of Nakshbandia Tariqat which was maintained by Bahauddin Nakshbandi. He was a well-educated man of his time, who was followed by thousands of murids, to make a living he worked as a fabric-dyer.

In the complex there is a mausoleum for his mother as well, and usually visitors call on this grave at the same time.

The mausoleum of Nakshbandi was added something new by every Emir of Bukhara of XIV century, as a consequence of which the complex was created gradually.

The complex appeals with its impressive style of oriental Islamic architecture presenting Sufi Order. People believe that three visits to this mausoleum is equal to a pilgrimage to Mecca.


As an inseparable component of Lyabi Havuz Complex, Chor Minor Madrasah is located in the north-east part of Bukhara. This architectural monument was constructed in the XVII century and presents national architectural heritage.

According to the descriptions noted at that time, there was a beautiful yard with spectacular garden and some buildings. Over the centuries the entrance and the main set of buildings was not preserved the same. The the entrance was used as a mosque whose interior is quite ordinary compared to the exterior ornaments. The cells are attached to the central living rooms and form a rectangular courtyard. On the second floor there used to be a library where many precious scripts were kept.

Concerning brickwork ornaments of the monument it resembles to Samani Mausoleum. However, here some differences related to the style of decorating. On the walls of Chor Minor you can observe Arabic inscriptions ‘’All people are equal before God’’.


Minorai Kalon is considered one of the magnificent constructions not only in Bukhara, but in Central Asia, also. Erected in the XI century, the Kalyan Minaret was originally used to call Muslims to prayer five times a day. It is 46.5 meters high with 10 meters fundamental part having a nine-meter diameter, which gets narrower as going up.

The minaret afterwards served as an observation post where military servants watched on the appearance of enemies; or a kind of beacon – signal of the city for caravans. Later it was named as ‘’the tower of death’’ as during the reign of Mangits dynasty in Bukhara the Kalyan Minaret served as a public punishment place – from top of the Minaret the guilty was thrown down.

Inside the Minaret there is spiral staircase, consisting of 105 stairs, leading to the rotunda – round room covered by a dome, which is decorated with splendid stalactites. There are 16 cross-arched openings of the lantern, the ledge shows the data – year 1127 as the time of construction and the name of architect – Bako. The 12 various ornamental girdles represent unique beauty, some fragments of which are stored in the History Museum of Bukhara.

Through the Kalyan Minaret there is a bridge to the roof of Kalyan Mosque situated next to it.


In the complex of Kalyan Minaret you can also visit Mir-Arab Madrasah, constructed in 1536 in honour of spiritual mentor of Emir Ubaidulla Khan – Sufi Abdullah Mir-Arab. There in addition to the university, the mausoleum for Mir-Arab and Ubaidullakhan is situated as well.

With two domes the madrasah creates a picturesque ensemble together with the minaret and the mosque. Thanks to the deco and the position it shines as gold making a majestic scene like in the legends.

At the religious institution students are taught spiritual education, and the students do not pay much attention to tourists, are busy with their own business. The university is open for the visitors, they can get acquainted the students’ life here providing behaving quietly.

The walls of grand entrance are adorned with carved alabaster reflecting exquisite bounty of workmanship while the dome is decorated with lined mosaics. This astonishing architectural monument of Medieval Ages enriches your journey diary to Bukhara with one more memorable point!


The madrasah located in the east of Lyabi Havuz complex refers to XVII century. Originally Nadir Devanbegi – minister of Imamkuli Khan planned to build a caravanserai, but later with the intention of Khan he changed his mind and gave the building as a madrasah. It brought great fame to Nadir Devanbegi as a patron and protector of Islam.

The style and decoration of the madrasah is similar to the khanaka nearby. The portal of Nadir Devanbegi Madrasah is rectangular, two-storey buildings are attached to it in two sides, at the end of which held turrets. The rows are adorned with pentagonal niches, on the façade a couple of legendary bird – Semurg flying toward the sun is illustrated, the two sides of the entrance represents Arabic inscriptions, which means: ‘’Allah is great, Muhammad is His Prophet’’. The names of architect – builder Dost Muhammad, as well as the foreman of the construction– Hodge Hashim were also inscribed here. In the decoration bluish and greenish colours are dominated. The Nadir Devanbegi Madrasah lacks of a big classroom, a mosque and ayvon which are usual components of other madrasahs since it was not erected as an educational place initially.

In 1993 this architectural monument was listed into the World Heritage of UNESCO. In 1997, on the eve of 2500 years anniversary of Bukhara Nadir Devanbegi Madrasah was repaired and today hosts a number of visitors showing off its uniqueness.


The Ensemble Poi-Kalon is considered the most significant complex of Bukhara where are situated three main constructions of Minorai Kalon, Kalon Mosque and Mir-Arab Madrasah, built during XII-XVI centuries. The complex is a popular pilgrimage destination attracting visitors with its venerability and nobility of the architectural style and deco.

Kalyan Minaret – erected in 1127 by Arslan Khan from Karakhanids dynasty, served as a beacon of the town, as it could be seen far from the city. Height of the minaret gets 47 meters and it was decorated with bluish tiles. In the construction of it ceramic was used first time in Central Asia.

Kalyan Mosque – built on the site of the ancient mosque erected in the XII century, it is the second largest mosque in Central Asia after Bibi Khanum in Samarkand. It can accommodate approximately ten thousand  people and without any difficulty they can hear the sermon of the preacher. The main building was constructed in XVI century. There is a big yard around of which are situated arched portals making a truly Islamic monument of Medieval Ages.

Mir-Arab Madrasah refers to sheikh Abdulla who was a spiritual leader of Ubaidulla Khan from Sheibanids. The Madrasah Mir-Arab was constructed in 1530-1536 and today it is one of the outstanding Islamic Universities of Central Asia.


There are several ancient hammam sites in Bukhara a couple of which are still in use. The construction of them is connected with spreading Islam and following the bathe-traditions.

Although the in Bukhara hammams rich ornamental decoration have not been preserved they are of historical, cultural, architectural significance. They can prove the engineering and technical achievements in the medieval ages of the area as well.

Interestingly, for a long time the researchers could not understand the whole movement of water: from where it comes into the bath, how the sewage system works? Even they tried dismantling one bath after which it stopped working.

The bath-hammams of Bukhara were erected as a detached house which was heated by a big water-boiler either embedded to the wall or placed under the floor. Additionally there used to be special pipes under marble floor through warm air flowed.

During your visit to Bukhara you can experience having ancient oriental bath here, there work two hammams built in XIV and XVII centuries, one of which for gentlemen – it is called ‘’Bozori Kord’’, located near the dome of Toki Telpakfurushon; the latter is for ladies – ‘’Khammam Kundjak’’ which is situated near to the Poi-Kalyan complex


The picturesque square of Bukhara – Labi  Havuz Ensamble originally was a square of open-air market. In the center of the bazaar a big pool was dug and filled with water in 1620, and surrounded with marble stairs, stones and sinch. Size of the rectangular pool is about 36×45.5 meters, 5 metres in depth, and the name of the complex means ‘’at the pond, near the reservoir’’.

The Havuz is surrounded by three historically important buildings, namely: the Kukaldash Madrasah, built by Abdulla Khan II, in the North; Nadir Devanbegi Khanakah in the West; and Nadir Devonbegi Madrasah, funded by Nadir Devonbegi, in the East.

In preserving the complex the pool had a great significance, later into the artificial pond of the ensemble pipes have been set, plane trees were planted, the complex was enriched with cinemas, restaurants and national choikhonas. Without a visit to this splendid place your journey would not be complete!


Located four km-north from Bukhara, the Complex Sitorai Mohi Hosa is an exquisite palace within a garden. The initial components began to be built by Nasrulla Khan and Muzaffar khan in the XIX century, and Abdulahad Khan and Emir Alimkhan added new palaces and splendid gardens and it became a perfect monument of Bukhara that showing off its gorgeousness to every visitor.

Containing 6.7 ha, it includes an old palace, three brick-laid yards and a number of rooms. In the eastern part of the old palace a new castle of Emir Alimkhan is situated where you enter through a magnificent gate. At the entrance of reception there are two lion-sculptures made of Gazgon marmar – kind of marble. Interior of the building was decorated with national ornaments. While the White palace is adorned with fine eastern flowers and mirrors, as a consequence of which the hall becomes much brighter.

The garden appeals anyone with majestic scent and ambience of tranquality. The pool constructed from light grey marble, situated in the south of the garden completes the uniqueness of the premise. By words it is impossible to describe – you must see with your own eyes its full bounty!


On opposite of Ark Fortress there is Bolo Hauz architectural monument erected in 1712 by Bukhara ruler Abu Fayud Khan in honour of his mother according to his wife’s advice. The complex consists of a madrasah – Shifo Dorul where upcoming doctors were taught and a mosque.

The outstanding features of the complex can be found to be the decorations of iwans – thin wooden columns were added in 1917. They are decorated with ornamental muqarnas.

The mosque is rectangular shaped, during winter people prayed in a room with four columns and several entrances, whereas in summer the 12meters high iwan with 20 columns served as a prayer place.

The inner part of the mosque was decorated typically in the XVIII century Central Asian style. It is inscribed in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

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