Shah-i-Zinda is one of the most popular sites in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. It is a street of tombs that contains some of the most spectacular tile works in the world. Established more than thousands of years ago, temples, tombs and other religious structures have been added for centuries – mostly between the 14th and 19th centuries – making it an interesting study in architectural style.
The deepest temples (and the most sacred structures) consist of a complex of quiet rooms believed to be the tombs of Qusam ibn-Abbas, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH who brought Islam to the region in the 7th century.
Shah-i-Zinda itself means “The Living King”. Referring to popular legend who said that Qusam ibn-Abbas was beheaded because of his faith, but he did not die, took his head and went to the deep well (Garden of Heaven), where he is still alive now.
The story has persevered through centuries as weather changes, progress, war, and expansion. It may in fact be the extensive additions and re-imaginings that have kept the site sacred and respected. That, and the fact that Shah-I-Zinda is a necropolis, housing the remains of numerous people, has allowed the various constructions to remain intact for so long.
This respect for the existing structures and the continual improvement of the buildings has lead to an interesting multi-tiered design, where layers of history and architecture intertwine between staircases, archways, and dusty paths.
Tours and Trips to Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand
Explore Samarkand, the famous capital of the 14th-century Timurid Empire. Roam the streets in search of its famous mosques and mausoleums. Visit Shah-i-Zinda, one of the most country’s popular sites, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Registan Square in the heart of Samarkand, also the Ulugbek Observatory, the Gur-Emir Mausoleum, and much more.
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