Bibi-Khanym Mosque

There’s not one person who doesn’t know about the story behind the creation of Taj Mahal. This architectural wonder was created as the last resting place for emperor’s the most beloved wife. The emperor was inconsolable and wanted to memorialize his deep love for the lost wife. However, several centuries before Taj Mahal, another fascinating monument was built to commemorate love for beloved wife.

The great conqueror Tamerlan, in 1399, ordered to start building a mosque in Samarkand.  This mosque was named after his most favorite wife - Saray Mulk Khanym. Saray Mulk Khanym was a Turko-Mongol princess and a descendant of Genghis-khan. She was said to be outstandingly beautiful and very clever. Tamerlan and Saray Mulk Khanym didn’t have children, yet she was his most trusted advisor.

The name of the mosque Bibi-Khanym is Saray Mulk Khanym’s nickname, which means “senior princess”. The building is one of the most impressive mosques and one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan. To build Bibi-Khanym Mosque hundreds of architectures, craftsmen, and builders were urged to Samarkand.  The mosque was intended to be the most epic construction in Uzbekistan.

The main dome was 18 meters in diameter and 40 meters in height. The portal arch was compared to the Milky Way and the dome itself to heavens. The exterior of the mosque is a vivid mix of floral and geometric glazed tiles. Of course, there’s legend behind Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Tamerlan’s favorite wife ordered to build this mosque in honor of his victorious return from India. An architect fell madly in love with beautiful khanym and did everything to postpone completion of the construction. Khanym was enraged, when comeback of her husband approached, but the mosque wasn’t ready. The architect said that the building would be ready on time, if khanym allowed him to kiss her.

Bibi-Khanym’s response was that he could choose any of her slaves. However, the architect said that they are not Bibi-Khanym and it’s pointless. Khanym had to agree; architect’s kiss left a mark on Bibi-Khanym’s cheek. This mark didn’t go unnoticed for Tamerlan, when he returned with victory from India. Some sources say that Tamerlan killed the architect and buried him in an underground mausoleum.

Unfortunately, today, some parts of the mosque are heavily damaged and lost forever. Quality of materials at that time didn’t live up to boldness od ideas; the mosque started collapsing within a year after the construction was finished. Women who struggle with conceiving children come to Bibi-Khanym Mosque, because it is believed that praying and touching the Koran will help.  

Tours, where you will visit Bibi-Khanym Mosque: