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'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 towers.

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 Shakhrisabz.

Click here to continue to Bukhara!
© 2001-2010 STANtours last modified April 17, 2002