Sunday, June 29, Day 19
Today, we spent most of the day driving to Samarkand, stopping for a couple of hours in Shakrisabaz, birthplace of Amir Temur, Temur had a palace built here at his birth home. in the late 1300's. The once grand gates supported a swimming pool on top.
Temur has a mausoleum prepared for his death here, but died in Kazakhstan in the summer time. He was buried and placed in a Mausoleum in Samarkand. His palace was destroyed by a later ruler and only the sides of the great palace gate remain today. We arrived late in the afternoon in Samarkand and once we were settled in our hotel within a stone's throw of Temur's Mausoleum, we took a sunset stroll of the town.
Monday, June 30, Day 20
Our Itinerary today: We enjoy a full and fascinating two days as we discover the Registan (Central Asia's most splendid architectural ensemble), the Bibi Khanym Mosque and beyond the city; Ulug Bek's Observatory and the Shah-i-Zinda Mausoleum.
We have seen so many beautiful buildings, domes, madrasahs, museums, necropolis, and mausoleums, my head is spinning. Samarkand is a jewel of antiquity beautifully restored after being destroyed by conquering invaders and strong earthquakes that toppled arches, buildings, minarets. Minarets (Minars - means fire)) actually predate Islam and were used as watch towers and light houses with fires on top for Silk Road and desert travelers to find their way at night.
Most of the Minarets are flat on top today lacking the original top parts of the structure for earthquake safety. The Madrasahs we saw today, formerly Islamic Seminaries, are used for handcrafts. We bought more souvenirs than we anticipated, silk scarves, boxes, doll, ornament, and beautiful small red wool carpet from Afghanistan. We are having the carpet shipped. We plan to do some more shipping of stuff home either from Moscow or Helsinki. Our bags grow heavier every day.
We leave in the morning for Tashkent where we spend one night before boarding the train for Kazakhstan and Russia.
All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs