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Chakhrisabz is a very ancient town, however its fame is mainly due to the fact that Timur was born there in 1336. He belonged to the family of a local chief. He eventually chose Samarkand as the capital of his empire, but he did not forget his hometown. Chakhrisabz is located some sixty miles to the south of Samarkand.
Ak Saray (White Palace) and the Monument to Timur
Timur placed his residence in Samarkand, but he also commissioned in 1379 a palace in Chakhrisabz after having conquered Khorezm, the region around Khiva. Slaves brought from there were employed in the construction of the palace which was preceded by a gigantic portal.
Ak Saray - pillars of the portal
A worn out inscription on the portal says: Those who have doubts about our power and munificence should look at our buildings (Timur was not the first leader who associated gigantic constructions with personal greatness). The central part of the portal is lost, but this adds to the evocativeness of the site; the two pillars remind those which once supported the dome of Caracalla's Baths in Rome. The palace itself is lost, with the exception of the pavement of some rooms.
The decoration of Ak Saray has helped in the restoration of many monuments in Samarkand, in particular that of Bibi Khanoum, the gigantic mosque built by Timur some twenty years later.
(left) Dorous Siadat/Dar al-Siyaday (Home of Sovereignty); (right) square Kufic inscriptions on the remaining pillar of the portal; they repeat four words: Allah ahad Muhammad samad: the first two words are written four times and form a swastika-like pattern
In 1375 Jehangir, Timur's elder son, died at the age of 22. His father commissioned a mausoleum for him; in 1394 Omar Sheikh, another son of Timur died and was buried next to his brother.
Timur decided to build a chapel for himself next to that of his sons. He eventually decided to be buried in Gour Emir, the mausoleum he built in Samarkand for his preferred grandson.
The mausoleum was preceded by a large portal of which only one pillar remains. The whole complex is known as Dorous Siadat.
Sheikh Chamseddin Koulyal Mausoleum
Sheikh Chamseddin Koulyal was a spiritual advisor to Timur's father. Timur built a small mausoleum for him in 1373-74. In 1437-38 his grandson Ouloug Beg built an identical mausoleum next to it and a portal which linked the two buildings.
Kok Goumbaz Mosque and detail of its decoration (modern)
In 1435 Ouloug Beg built near the mausoleum a mosque which was meant to be the Friday Mosque of Chakhrisabz, but which is best known as the Gok (blue) mosque owing to the brilliant colour of its dome. The mosque was restored in 1994. This complex is known as Dorout Tilovat (Home of Respect and Consideration).