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Samarkand (Samarqand or Самарқанд in Uzbek) (population 400,000) is the second-largest city in Uzbekistan, capital of the Samarkand region (Samarqand Wiloyati).

Table of contents
1 History
2 Sights
3 Samarkand in literature
4 External link


The city of Samarkand was founded prior to the 3rd millennium BCE. During most of its history it was a part of the Persian Empire.

Lying on the trade routes (silk road) between China and the Middle East, Samarkand prospered. At times in its history Samarkand has been the greatest city of Central Asia. Alexander the Great captured the town in 329 BC (see Afrasiab, Sogdiana).

Under Arab rule (from the 7th century CE), the city flourished as a trade center until the devastation of the city by the Mongols led by Genghis Khan (1220).

Timur (Tamerlane) (1336 - 1405) was born at Kesh, situated some 50 miles south of Samarkand. Upon taking power as a chieftain, Timur rebuilt the city to its former glory. Samarkand became the capital of his empire, which extended from India to Turkey. In 1404 Timur ordered the mausoleum called Guri-Emir ("Tomb of the Emir") for his beloved grandson, Mukhammad Sultan. The mausoleum became the burial site of the Timurid dynasty

Ulugh Beg, grandson of Timur, became the shah's governor in Samarkand in 1409 and ruled the country for 40 years. In Samarkand Ulugbek created a scientific school, which united outstanding astronomers and mathematicians. At Ulugbek's observatory (built 1428 1429) there was a gigantic but precisely made marble sextant there, with a radius of 40.212 meters. The length of the arc is 63 meters.

In 1868, the city came under Russian rule, and it became the capital of the Uzbek SSR in 1925 before being replaced by Tashkent. Samarkand is one of the largest Persian-speaking cities of Central Asia and an important center of the Iranian architecture.


Samarkand in literature

Samarkand can appear as an archetype of romantic exoticism, notably in the work by James Elroy Flecker: The Golden Journey to Samarkand.

Samarcande is the title of a novel by Amin Maalouf.

External link