The mausoleum of Bibi Khanum is located in Samarkand very close to the mosque of the same name. This architectural monument belongs to the whole ensemble of tombs in the Uzbek city. Historians claim that the mausoleum was part of a madrasah (an educational institution for the training of Muslims), with which it was probably connected by a long tunnel. Such conclusions were made based on the appearance of the tomb – the building has no main facade. There is also another version which argues that the mausoleum of Bibi Khanum could well be an independent building.
The history of the construction of Bibi Khanum
The building was erected by Tamerlan for his wife, her mother and several other women from the Timurid family. The construction of this richly decorated mausoleum lasted five years and ended in 1404.
It is believed that the mother of the Timur’s wife was the first to be buried in it, and later the remains of Bibi Khanum herself (also called Saray Mulk-khanim) were buried here. Although the researchers did not find any evidence of this fact, folk tradition connects the tomb with the main wife of the legendary Tamerlane. There are reasons for this: Bibi Khanum was quite beautiful, smart, and educated, she was trusted by one of all her wives by the great conqueror.
Marble sarcophagi were discovered during restoration work, which was preceded by an earthquake in 1875. And after 66 years, the anthropologist Mikhail Gerasimov was able to enter to the ruins of the mausoleum. There he found two sarcophagi with expensive surfaces, which were the remains of female bodies. Traces of the skin were preserved on one skeleton in the abdomen; the remains of hair could be seen on the skull. From what was left of the young woman, the anthropologist managed to make an approximate portrait of Bibi Khanum. Today it can be seen by visiting this mausoleum.
After all the remains were thoroughly studied, the skeleton was returned to the sarcophagus, and an act of work was done next to it.
Due to the fact that the attraction is located in a seismically active zone, it, like other buildings of the complex, has repeatedly suffered from earthquakes. For a long time, the state of the tomb was very deplorable. In 2000, by order of the first president of Uzbekistan, the historical monument underwent reconstruction. Restoration work, which was completed in 2003, made the Bibi Khanum Mausoleum more attractive for tourists and at the same time retained its former architectural appearance.
Interior of the mausoleum of Bibi Khanum
The tomb is a high octagonal cross-shaped structure, the top is crowned by a huge sky-blue dome. Glazed brick and terracotta give it a special beauty. If you have enough time and desire, you can not be limited to check the view of the surface of the tomb, but also look inside the building. This can be done at an additional cost. The cost of admission tickets must be specified on the spot. Travellers visiting the complex are advised to start sightseeing from the mausoleum, and not vice versa – so the experience will be more vivid.
The interior of the tomb is much richer than the exterior: if you look closely, in its decoration you can see amazing stalactites, iridescent in ivory. The composition is harmoniously complemented by mosaic panels with paintings that adorn the walls of the building. The ceiling of the mausoleum, laid out with light blue and golden tiles which brings special attention.
There are deep niches along the room’s axes, and the floor of the Bibi Khanum mausoleum is lined with grey stone slabs, which are carpeted in some places. As for the marble sarcophagi, they are on the crypt floor and lie in the position in which they were before the autopsy.
How to get there
It just so happened that the architectural landmark is located almost in the very centre of Samarkand, not far from the famous tourist area – Registan Square. Getting to the Bibi Khanum mausoleum is easy both from the railway and from the bus station of the city. You can do this in many ways, including walking.
By bus: buses No. 31, 18 will take you to the Siabsky Bazar stop (the distance from the complex to the complex is one kilometer). Buses No. 64, 88, 8 can take you to the Khavashi stop.
- Opening hours: From 09.00 to 18.00.
- Entrance fee: The entrance to the mausoleum is paid, the cost must be clarified on the spot.