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Gur-Emir Mausoleum in Samarkand

Gur-Emir Mausoleum, Samarkand

The Gur Emir or Guri Amir in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Gur Emir is Persian for "Tomb of the King". This architectural complex with its azure dome contains the tombs of Tamerlane, his sons Shokhrukh and Miran Shah and grandsons Ulugbek and Muhammad Sultan. Also honoured with a place in the tomb is Timur's teacher Sayyid Baraka.

The earliest part of the complex was built at the end of the 14th century by the orders of Muhammad Sultan. Now only the foundations of the madrasah and khanaka, the entrance portal and a part of one of four minarets remains.

The entrance portal to the Muhammad Sultan ensemble is richly decorated with carved bricks and various mosaics. All the extensions of Ulugbek's time are attributed to the architect Muhammad ibn Mahmud from Isfahan.

Outwardly the Gur-Emir Mausoleum is a one-cupola building. It is famous for its simplicity of construction and for its solemn monumentality of appearance. It is an octahedral building crowned by an azure fluted dome. The exterior decoration of the walls consists of the blue, light-blue and white tiles organized into geometrical and epigraphic ornaments against a background of terracotta bricks. The dome (diameter - 15 m (49.21 ft), height - 12.5 m (41.01 ft)) is of a bright blue color with deep rosettes and white spots. Heavy ribbed fluting gives an amazing expressiveness to the cupola.

During the reign of Ulugbek a doorway was made to provide an entrance into the mausoleum.

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Inwardly the mausoleum appears as a large, high chamber with deep niches at the sides and diverse decoration. The lower part of the walls covered are by onyx slabs composed as one panel. Each of these slabs is decorated with refined paintings. Above the panel there is a marble stalactite cornice. Large expanses of the walls are decorated with painted plaster; the arches and the internal dome are ornamented by high-relief papier-mache cartouches, gilded and painted.

The ornate carved headstones in the inner room of the mausoleum merely indicate the location of the actual tombs in a crypt directly underneath the main chamber. Under Ulugbek's government a solid block of dark green jade was placed over the grave of Tamerlane. Formerly this stone had been used at a place of worship in the Chinese emperor's palace, then as the throne of Duwa (a descendant of Genghis Khan) in Chagatay Khanate. Next to Tamerlane's grave lie the marble tombstones of his sons Miran Shah and Shah Rukh and also of grandsons – Muhammad Sultan and Ulugbek. Tamerlane's spiritual teacher Mir Said Baraka, also rests here.

Entrance fee: 2.5 USD

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