Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan, situated on a sacred hill, the place where sacrifices were made by fire-worshippers in springtime. This city was mentioned in a holy book "Avesto". Bukhara city is supposed to be founded in the 13th c.B.C. during reign of Siyavushids who came to power 980 years before Alexander the Great. The name of Bukhara originates from the word "vihara" which means "monastery" in Sanskrit. The city was once a large commercial center on the Great Silk Road.
Bukhara lies west of Samarkand and was once a center of learning renowned throughout the Islamic world. It was here that the great Sheikh Bahautdin Nakshbandi lived. He was a central figure in the development of the mystical Sufi approach to philosophy, religion and Islam. In Bukhara there are more than 350 mosques and 100 religious colleges. Its fortunes waxed and waned through succeeding empires until it became one of the great Central Asian Khanates in the 17th century.
Bukhara with more than 140 architectural monuments is a "town museum" dating back to the Middle Ages. 2,300 years later, ensembles like the Poi-Kalon, Kos Madras, Ismail Samani Mausoleum and the Kalian Minaret are attracting a lot of attention. The city consists of narrow streets, green parks and gardens, historical and architectural monuments belong to the different epochs, but locate very close to each other.
The Ark Citadel . This Royal town-within-a-town is the home of the rulers of Bukhara for over a millennium. The Ark is as old as Bukhara itself. The fortress was the focus around which the medieval town developed. The building, which houses the History and Local Lore Museum, is called the "Ark", which in Persian means "fortress or citadel". The Citadel Ark built in the 4th cent. B.C., was the center of political events and residence of Bukharian rulers until 1920. Architectural constructions from the 18th to 20th centuries remain on the territory of the Ark, many of which are used as exhibition halls by the museum.
Ismail Samani Mausoleum . The mausoleum was built during the reign of Ismail Samani, one of the most outstanding members of the Samanids dynasty, who ruled Bukhara from 892 until 907. Originally, the mausoleum was intended for the grave of Ismail Samani's father, Akhmad, but later became the burial vault of the Samanids. The external composition of the mausoleum seems rather simple, a hemisphere atop a cube. Burnt brick is used as a building material. All four facades are identical. The unusually beautiful brickwork of the walls gives the building a sort of delicate lightness. According to a legend,Ismail Samani had ruled for more than 40 years even after his death. That legend also says that when people wanted justice, they came to his mausoleum, prayed and put their statements on his grave. The next day they would received the answer and their problems were solved immediately.
The Kalyan Minaret was erected in 1127 by Arslan-khan and is considered to be the symbol of the city. According to records of the time, the builders made an error in its construction, and it soon collapsed. When the remnants were cleared away, Arslan-khan ordered that a new minaret, stronger and more beautiful, the likes of which hadn't been ever seen in all of the Muslim East, be built. One of the legends says that the craftsman who laid the foundation of mortar and plaster mixed with camel's milk fled from the city and didn't return for more than two years. The craftsman resumed construction only after he was convinced that the mortar had hardened. The Kalian Minaret, built of burnt brick and plaster mortar, rises to a height of forty-six meters above the ground. The minaret is decorated with 14 parallel bands none of which are repeated. Today this outstanding work of architecture, the perfect architectural forms of which have long served as an example for similar works in the Muslim East, still remains the tallest minaret in the Muslim East.
Kalyan Madrassah is dated to architecture masterpiece; it is a monument of 5 century, raised from the ruins during the years of Soviet power. In the beginning of 16 century, the mosque was partly reconstructed. The shapes of amazing arches and portal décor have already carried the features of new style, developed in Bukharan oasis in 16-17 centuries.
The inscription under arch portal dates time of reconstruction. This is a poem from Koran, at the end of which we can see the date 1514-1515. In 1541 at the entrance of main portal was fixed a marble board with cut text of Abdullaziz I, this order runs that Bukharan inhabitants were free of some taxes payment.
Kosh-Madrassah . Kosh means «double». Ensemble includes 2 buildings: Modari-khan Madrassah and Abdullah-khan Madrassah. The buildings stand on narrow street sides, faced partal to each other. Modari-khan Madrassah was built in 974 of hydjr or 1566 - 1567. The date is pointed out with poems on majolica paintings over entrance. It is the modest model of Madrassah with gorgeous-faced main facade. He built abdull-khan Madrassah in 1558 – 1590. It is one of outstanding Central Asiatic architectual work. Here architector bravely deviated from canon rules in planning, moving capacities assimetrically beyond the rectangular building outlines, including new forms in usual composition. So there was appeared inside yard spacious hall with cupola on twelve-sided light drum, it is known as «Abdullah-khan sky-light». The hall combines 20 hydjrs, situated in 2 tiers.
Ulugbek Madrassah was found in 1417, as the inscription on the bronze plate of door runs says. There is a name of master in the portal tympanum, which was building this monument – Ismail ibn Takhir ibn Makhmud Ispfargoni. It is possible he was a grandson of one of the masters, who had been captured by Timur in Iran and left their names on the portal of Gur-Amir complex in Samarkand.
Bukhara Madrassah is the first Madrassah, built by Ulugbek. It is comparatively small, but has great forms. This is a building with two-ayvan square yard, surrounded by two-storey hudjrs, with darskhana cupola halls and mosque on the cross of entrance hall.
The Samanids Mausoleum
The Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum
The Poi-Kalyan Ensemble
The Sitorai-Mokhi-khosa Palace
The Lyabi-khauz Ensemble
The Magoki -Attari Mosque