The complex of mausoleums and tombs in Samarkand is included in the UNESCO cultural heritage list. Shahi Zinda to a large extent reflects all the historical milestones of the development of the city and is a huge religious monument. Among the local population, it bears a rather gloomy name for “cemetery street”, but in fact, it has no resemblance to the cemetery.

Here are majestic mausoleums with the remains of rulers, relatives of Timur, thinkers and sages, saints and philosophers. Numerous tombs and tombs were created by ancient architects and craftsmen who made every effort to ensure that their creations looked flawless and could last a long time.

In ancient times, this complex was one of the most significant religious and cultural centers throughout Central Asia. In the Islamic world, even the replacement of the pilgrimage to the great Mecca with a visit to Shahi Zinda was allowed, where according to legend the remains of the great preacher rest. They belong to Kussam ibn Abbas, the cousin of the prophet Mohammed himself. This preacher arrived in Samarkand in 676 to guide local people on the path of the true Islamic faith. The drama, which unfolded here after a sudden attack by a group of pagans from the city of Pagikent, has survived in the form of numerous legends and stories.

According to one version, a cousin of Mohammed was hit by a bow shot, which caught him in the process of prayer. Another version claims that the preacher managed to quickly disappear into the slots of the minbar and escape. Another version of the unfolding of events is the version that Kussam managed to take refuge in the well, which Saint Hyzr indicated to him. Many residents of Samarkand still believe that the preacher is still hiding in this well, avoiding the human world.

According to another legend, Kussar ibn Abassa was executed by pagans by beheading right near this well. But before his death, he managed to drink “living water” with a miraculous effect and remained alive. Thanks to this water, he even became immortal and still lives in Samarkand. It is noteworthy that the name of the complex of tombs of Shahi Zinda is approximately translated into our language as “the immortal king”. And the inscription from the tombstone of the brother of the prophet reads as follows: “Do not consider those who were killed on the way to Allah himself dead, for they are immortal …”.

Tomb of Kussam ibn Abassa
The tomb of Kussam ibn Abassa is the central place and foundation of the entire Shahi Zinda memorial complex. The door of the tomb, which was created in 1404 by the skilled craftsman Yusuf Shirazi, amazes with its amazing design. Especially popular in those days was considered the work of an ivory carver, but unfortunately, it could not survive to this day. But on the other hand, the inscription about Kussam Ibn Abass, which reads: “The Prophet Muhammad said that the son of Abbass is more than anyone similar to me in his character and appearance, may eternal peace be with him.”
A special place among the other tombs of the memorial complex is occupied by the mausoleum of the wife of the emir Tuman-aka, the tomb of the prominent Islamic preacher Khoja Akhmal and one nameless girl who, according to the legend, has taken her death.
Tomb of Tamerlane’s wife Tuman-aka
The tomb of Tuman-aka naturally occupies a more prominent place and is very popular among tourists and the local population. It differs from neighboring buildings with its rich purple hue. The interior really looks quite modest, but still has a rather aesthetic appearance. It is also worth noting that the Tuman-aka mausoleum is one of the tallest buildings among the tombs of the entire memorial complex.
Tomb of Emir Chipmunk
Another very remarkable construction in the ensemble of the mausoleums of Shahi Zinda is the tomb of Emir Chipmunk, who was a brave warlord under the command of Tamerlane. The tomb of this great warrior remained unfinished, and its interior has a simple marching atmosphere. All the walls of the tomb of Emir Chipmunk are covered with ordinary alabaster paint, and from the decoration, you can only note the presence of majolica plates.

The title of the highest tomb belongs to the tomb of the famous scientist Samarkand Kazy-Zade Rumi, who was the mentor of Ulugbek. It was this man who taught the heir to the ruler of Samarkand all the basics of astronomy. Tamerlane’s grandson was very grateful to his teacher and, in gratitude, erected this tomb for him.

The tomb of Kazy-Zade Rumi is located at the lowest place in the memorial complex, but Ulugbek ordered the construction of the tomb so that it is on a par with other structures. It is noteworthy that the autopsy of the sarcophagus in this tomb in 1977 did not reveal the presence of human remains in it. Therefore, one can only guess what really happened to the mentor of the emir’s grandson and where his real burial is located.

Other attractions of the Shahi Zinda necropolis
One of the best mausoleums in Shahi Zinda is the tomb of Usto Ali Nsefi, who was a famous master during the reign of the Timurids. It is noteworthy that this mausoleum is one of the last structures in which ornamental carved terracotta was used for cladding.

Locals call the tomb of Shahi Zinda the tomb of Tamerlane’s niece. Erected in 1327, this tomb is the earliest building in the entire memorial complex. This tomb is famous for its intricate shapes, exquisite decoration, and finely executed ornaments.

Very close to the remains of Timur’s niece is his sister. Its Shirin-Bek-Aka mausoleum has a rather rich interior and is considered the lightest among all the others. The ancient architects managed to achieve this amazing effect through the use of amazingly beautiful panels. The light penetrating into the mausoleum is reflected from them and creates additional lighting.

How to get to the Shahi Zinda complex in Samarkand

Bus stop “St. Shahi Zinda ”, No. 1, 8, 9, 12, 22, 25, 33, 44, 54, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 77, 83, 88.
  • Opening Hours: Open Everyday 9 AM to 7 PM
  • Entrance Fee: 8,000 souls (0.79 USD)
  • Address: st. Shahi Zinda, Samarkand, Samarkand region, Uzbekistan