'If one wants to know about our power let him look
about upon our buildings' is the inscipt on the 38
m remains of Shakhrisabz' Ak Saray (White Palace) entry
This small, un-Russified town 90km (56mi) south of Samarkand,
seems nothing special until you start bumping into the
ruins dotted around its backstreets and the megalomaniac
ghosts of a wholly different place materialise.
This is Timur's home town (he was born here at then Kesh
9/4/1336), and once upon a time it probably put Samarkand
itself in the shade. Timur renamed the town to its prensent
name which in Tajik stands for Green Town. The town was
detroyed in the 16th century by the Bukharan Emir in quest
for the Shabanid Throne.
There's little left of Timur's Ak-Saray Palace
(1380-1404) except bits of the gigantic, 40m (131ft) high
entrance covered with gorgeous filigree-like blue, white
and gold mosaics, but it's staggering to try and imagine
what the rest of this glorious summer palace must have
looked like. Ditto the Dorus Siadat ('Seat of the
Power & Might') which may even have overshadowed the palace,
built by Timur on the occasion of the death of his eldest
son in 1375.
Other attractions include the tombs of Timur's forbears,
the giant Big Friday Kok-Gumbaz Mosque and the
intended Crypt of Timur, rediscovered only in 1943, which
strangely contains the remains of two unidentified corpses.
Nearby is the 19th century Khazret Imam Mosque built in
honour of a 8th century spiritual leader from Iraq..
Taxis and buses do the two hour jaunt from Tashkent to
to continue to Bukhara!