While Samarkand itself is a masterpiece of an ancient Central Asian culture, with plenty of architectural monuments, there is a true gem situated in the very heart of the city. No tourist can leave Samarkand without visiting Registan square. The Registan ensemble is a mesmerizing example of Islamic architecture. It’s considered to be one of the most precious Islamic monuments in the world, and the most important in Central Asia. Only because of Registan, UNESCO Included Samarkand in its World Heritage List. No wonder why Scheherazade centered her tales around a palace in Samarkand. Samarkand was a significant center of the Great Silk Road, people from the most remoted parts of the world met there, it was an educational and an Islamic center.
No other place in Samarkand combines all three of these aspects as Registan does. The square has three madrassas on each side facing each other: Ulugbek madrasah, Sherdor madrasah and Tilla-Kori madrasah. All madrassas are of different age. The oldest one and the first to be built is Ulughbek Madrassah. Timur’s grandson was a ruler known for his passion to science and foundation of Ulughbek Observatory. He ordered to start building the madrassah in 1417, the process took 4 years to finish. Two centuries later another emir of Samarkand – Bahodur Yalangtush spent 17 years building Sherdor Madrassah and 14 years building Till Kori Madrassah.
Translation of word “Registan” means “a sand place”. In ancient time Registan was a central square covered in sand. People would gather there to listen to khan’s orderings, take part in celebrations, witness executions, or leave to war as a part of the arm force. The Registan was also the commercial center of Samarkand. All main roads of Samarkand went through the Registan; traders were selling their gods around the square.
Fampus English traveler George Cruzon witnessed the beauty of the Registan during his travels in 1899:” The Registan of Samarkand was originally, and is still even in its ruin, the noblest public square in the world. I know of nothing in the East approaching it in massive simplicity and grandeur; and nothing in Europe ... which can even aspire to enter the competition.” Anyone who visited the Registan would agree that these words are a perfect fit.