Sunday, October 18, 2015

Shah-i-Zinda, the Precious Blue Fairytale

This spring I visited Shah-i-Zinda, the famous necropolis in Samarkand, Ubekistan. As it often happens, I procrastinated for a long time, unable to choose photos for the post. Truth is, I was very unhappy with the photos, as they fail to reflect the bright, jewel-like beauty of this architectural ensemble. But I will show them anyway; just remember that they do not give justice to the beauty of this place.

Shah-i-Zinda is a complex of tombs and other ritual buildings, where the eldest ones date to 9th century and the newest ones - to 19th century.

"Shahizinda" means "the Living King" in Persian.  The legend says that the Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Prophet Mohammed, came to Samarkand with a small army to install Islam here. In one of the battles with pagans, right at this hill,  Kusam ibn Abbas was wounded with an arrow, but managed to hide in a small cave or a well, which closed as he entered. And he still lives there, hidden from people.

The wooden terrace is at the entrance, to the left. It has a beautiful painted ceiling.

On the left is a tall staircase to the main part of the complex. The legend has it that you should walk and count the stairs, and remember the number. On the way back, you should count again. If numbers match, you will be granted a wish. On the right you can see a pathway leading from the end part to the exit (so, this belongs to the end of the photo set, but the photo is vertical, so it does not fit anywhere else).

These are several groups of mausoleums throughout  the necropolis. They mostly belong to the relatives and the courtiers or military leaders of Timur the Great, also known as Tamerlane; we call him Amir Timur here. The mausoleums are lavishly decorated with majolica tiles in various shades of blue, green and turquoise. 

It is nice to see children around; they clearly enjoy spending time in the beautiful place. And aren't they lovely girls?

I was transfixed by the lavish beauty of these buildings. In reality, they gleam and glisten, and the tiles look deep like sea water with ripples.

I love all the amazing textures and intricate lines.

The kids were not alone; after some playing and looking around, they came to their adults (I kept an eye on them, just in case. And they allowed me to take photos).

We went further, and I took more photos. It would be good to have a camera which could take 3D photos! or, better still, one to capture my feelings - the awe, admiration and excitement! 

There is a long path through the complex, with buildings on both sides.

I think that the last part is the most beautiful one. It was like entering a jewellery box which is adorned with precious enamel even from the inside. You enter and gasp...

...and start spinning around, trying to see everything, absorb it and remember. This smooth, cool, bright, fragile-looking beauty, aimed at making people stop and stare in admiration. A tribute to the people gone. Not only to those who are buried here, but also, ultimately - to the masters, who created this wonder.

Some people come here to pray.

Others just come to see the beauty. The smallest one seems to be impressed, too.

This was a very enjoyable hour - it was as if I spent this time in a fairytale. I hope to come back with my daughter, as I know she will love it as much as I did. If you ever visit Samarkand, make sure you go to Shah-i-Zinda, too. This is a place worth seeing.


  1. Wow - it looks like an absolutely breathtaking site! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Beautiful! Love all of those shades of blue.

  3. Oh my! How beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  4. The colours of the tiles and the intricate details are absolutely stunning! It must have been so awe-inspiring walking around there. What a sweet group of girls, so innocent :)


Please say a few words if you feel like it - I will be very happy to read your comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...