One of the main historical monuments of Samarkand is the tomb of Gur-Emir, in which the remains of the great ruler and conqueror of Tamerlane, as well as many members of his family, rest. The name of this mausoleum can be translated as “tomb of the ruler” or “tomb of Emir.”
History of the Gur Emir Mausoleum
The construction of this memorial began in 1403 by the order of Timur himself. The ruins of the ensemble of buildings that Muhammad Sultan, one of the emir’s grandchildren, became the place to build this building. In this complex, there were madrassas, a mosque, many minarets, and a khanak. The young prince erected all these buildings for himself and even lived there for some time. But Timur, for unknown reasons, ordered to completely dismantle this complex, and in its place to begin construction of a new mausoleum. From the buildings of Muhammad Sultan, only the tomb of the Tsarevich, insignificant fragments of marble walls with gold plating and blue domes of minarets have survived to our days. But the royal tomb of Gur-Emir itself still stands, almost retaining its original appearance. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit this place every year to pay tribute to the fearless conqueror Timur.
The appearance of Gur Emir is simply overwhelming with its splendor and grandeur. Some researchers claim that this tomb became the prototype and basis for such famous historical monuments as Humayun and Taj Mahal. Naturally, over the many centuries of the existence of the memorial, Gur-Emir has overgrown with numerous legends and eerie stories that are passed down from generation to generation.
Tamerlan was the first to be buried here. This great warrior spent most of his life in campaigns, battles and battles. It is not surprising that he died on a campaign, but not from a sword or arrow. The fearless leader was struck by ordinary pneumonia when he returned home from the next successful battle. The conqueror’s body was taken to Samarkand and buried with all honors in the tomb of Gur-Emir. For quite a long time, his sarcophagus was the only one in the tomb, but during the reign of Ulugbek other members of the Timurid clan began to be buried there.
Gur Emir complex architecture
The construction of the royal tomb is an excellent architectural example, which was typical for the style of Central Asia of the 15th century. The interior of the tomb amazes visitors with its full splendor. The best creators and masters from all over the East worked here, whom Tamerlan massively brought to Samarkand all his life.
The huge bright blue dome of the tomb, which has the shape of a bulb, is immediately evident. On the outside, it has exactly 64 faces, generously decorated with white blotches. Such a number of faces corresponds to the years of the life of the Islamic prophet Mohammed. It is noteworthy that an identical dome can be seen at a mosque in St. Petersburg on Kronverksky Prospekt. The construction of this building was led in 1913 by Emir of Bukhara. Together with architect Alexander von Gauguin and artist Nikolai Vasiliev, they decided to recreate an exact copy of the dome from the Gur-Emir mosque.
We will return to Samarkand. After inspecting the dome, the gaze moves slightly lower and stops at the massive drum that supports the bright blue bulb. This part of the mausoleum is also full of greatness and extraordinary beauty. In general, the tomb is completely made in a luxurious and even solemn architectural style, which is inherent in almost all structures of the era of Tamerlane’s rule.
The interior of the tomb is not inferior to external luxury: here in abundance are marble panels, terracotta bricks and ornament of blue and white plates. To finish the inner part of the dome and the drum, Tamerlan chose the outstanding master of that time, Muhammad ibn Mahmoud Isfahani. It is worth noting that Timur was not mistaken in his choice, as the result was simply stunning. The master designed the mausoleum in blue and gold shades, which can dazzle with its beauty almost literally.
Also, ancient wooden doors with elaborate carvings and a huge jade plate directly above the burial place of Timur, which was installed by his grandson Ulugbek, attract the eye. The heir brought this plate from Mogolistan to install it near the remains of his ancestor. According to one legend, this piece of jade served as a throne for Kabeh Khan, who was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. Ulugbek promised his grandfather to write an ominous inscription on his tombstone. These words can be read now when visiting this mausoleum. It says: “To everyone who violates my peace, suffering and death will come.” For a long time, many searched in these words for a hidden meaning or a hidden threat. A huge number of different legends tell about the tombstone and the inscription on it, which for many centuries excited the consciousness of all mankind.
One legend says that huge misfortunes can come from the stove. The case is described when one Persian conqueror captured Samarkand and then decided to take with him the plate of the great Tamerlane as a trophy. Upon arrival home, the shah set this plate as a step to his throne so that everyone could see Tamerlane at his feet. But the stove did not bring him much happiness. On the contrary, after this misfortune, the Persian Shah was pursued at every turn. Pestilence, epidemics, droughts, and crop failures began. After that, members of his family began to die, the shah remembered the warning inscription on the stove. As soon as possible, he took out the headstone and returned it back to the tomb.
The action of the second legend takes place during the Second World War. In June 1941, Stalin ordered a group of archaeologists to open the tomb of Tamerlane and examine it for the presence of mysterious artifacts that, according to local tradition, rest with the remains of the great emir. Many tried to dissuade the leader from opening this sarcophagus, reminded of a warning inscription on the stove. But Stalin was adamant. On June 19, archaeologists of the Uzbek SSR opened the lid of the sarcophagus of Tamelan, and after three days, Nazi Germany began its invasion of the territory of the Soviet Union. Whether there is a connection between these two events is still a mystery, but such a coincidence raises certain thoughts in many. Perhaps the threat of Timur was not empty words and, opening his last earthly refuge, archaeologists released the spirit of war.
How to get to the Gur Emir Mausoleum
Bus Ost. “Hotel Afrosiab”, No. 1, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 14, 19, 22, 23, 27, 31, 32, 33, 35, 41, 44, 45, 54, 60, 64, 73, 74, 88, 91, 92, 97, 99, 122. Also, flights to the stops “Dagbitskaya St.”, “Zoological Shop”.
- Entrance fee: 12,000 soums.
- Address: st. Kahramon, Samarkand, Samarkand region, Uzbekistan