Architecture

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Rich architectural inheritance of Uzbekistan is endowed with some of the most audacious buildings in the Islamic world. They are the legacy of a series of Central Asian rulers from the Turkic hordes to Amir Timur to the Khiva khans, who created breathtaking monuments to their own immortality in an attempt to leave an enduring mark on restless nomadic lands. The heavy swell of a melon dome, the graceful arch of a madrasah portal and the bold silhouette of a towering minaret from some of the most evocative images a traveller will carry away with him and sound the clearest echoes of past splendor.


Rich archaeological remains in the area preserve an intriguing mix of Hellenistic, Buddhist and Scythian influences in the laconic desert castles of Khorezm and Bactria Buddhist and trace a development to the rich Sogdian palaces and wall paintings of Varakhsha and Afrosiab. But it was the arrival of Islam in the eight century and its alien synthesis of styles that transformed the face of Central Asia as much as its soul.


Several innovations have also steered the course of local architectural development. The introduction of fired brick in the 9th and 10th centuries gave buildings not only for a greater solidity then before, but also rich medium decoration that was ideally suited to the harsh desert light. The series of corner arches that appeared for the first time at Tim, near Samarkand, eased the move from a square base, through an eight- and sixteen-sides layer of transition, to a round dome and pave the way for the great turquoise domes of Samarkand and Bukhara. The technology of monochrome tile work, first brought to the Kalon Minaret in Bukhara in the 12th century to emphasize external monumental inscriptions, soon expanded into the revelry of Timurid multi-color tile work. The full resources of Timur's empire brought a cosmopolitanism and monumentality to Timurid architecture.