Bibi-Khanym Mosque

The Amir Temur Mosque also named Bibi-Khanym was constructed as the cathedral mosque of Samarkand – i.e. the main mosque of Temurid Power – in the early 15th century. The best architects, artists and craftsmen from conquered countries were involved in the construction of this grandiose complex and continued working for five years. Indian elephants were used for heavy lifting and transporting. When Temur returned after his western campaign he was disappointed with the scale of construction and ordered the reconstruction of the portal. They made it 45 m. high with big pylons and minarets flanking the arch up to 60 m. The bronze gates installed at the front entrance produced a long musical sound. Those unique gates were taken as trophies by the Iranian Nodir-shah who invaded Samarkand in 1740. Then they were returned and later melted down for coins. The large yard of the mosque (129×99 m) was laid with marble stones. It was for the thousands of believers coming for prayer.

In the center of the yard there was a pavilion for ritual ablutions. Now a marble lectern for the huge Koran stands there. It was made in the time of Ulugbek and decorated the interior of the main building. The yard was fringed by an arch and dome gallery placed on four hundred marble columns. There are three constructions with domes on its axis – the main mosque with a rostrum (minbar) for the imam in front of the entrance portal and two small mosques on both sides. The mosque was so gigantic that the brick design could not bear its own weight and during the first decades the mosque was collapsing little by little. The mosque of the 15th century came down to us in the ruins of a powerful entrance portal, three dome buildings and a minaret in the corner. Conservation and partial restoration of the mosque was completed in the late 19th-early to early 21st centuries.

 


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e-mail: info@marakanda.net,
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© Marakanda Expedition, 2017 .