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Architecture of Uzbekistan

There is little architecture of note in Uzbekistan prior to the introduction of Islam in the 700s. After this point the country has built a number of incredible structures with no equals. These are primarily found in only three cities: Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, although there are exceptions.

In the 900s mausoleums in the country developed, a movement that arrived earlier than in much of the Middle East, after which later monuments copied. Perhaps the finest of these funerary monuments is the mausoleum of the Samanids (early 900s) in Bukhara. This mausoleum was made from brick and is one of, if not the earliest example of brick architecture in Persian regions from this time period. Among the finest buildings in the city is the Mir-i-Arab Madrassa.

In the 1300s these cities gained greater structures as the Timurid Dynasty was based here and extensively built the city of Samarkand, their capital. This city's historic heart is in the Timurid style, most notably the Shah-e-Zendah, a street of mausoleums and monuments. Perhaps the finest examples of Timurid architecture in Samarkand though, are the Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum and the Ishrat-Khaneh Mausoleum.

The famous architecture in Bukhara and Samarkand continued through the 1500s and 1600s. The Registan was built in Samarkand at this time, including the Ulugbek Madrassa.

In the 1700s Khiva rose in power and a number of buildings were built during this time. The Tashkhauli Palace (1830s) and the Kakaminar Minaret (1855) are impressive, although the shape and the design of the city walls might be more mesmerizing.

During this same time, in the 1800s other forms of more permanent architecture were created, including simple home and mosques. These buildings maintained similar styles and techniques as the earlier monuments as most buildings were made with brick.

At this same time though the Russians had entered the region and in the 1900s the Soviets took power. With Soviet rule they shifted the borders and Uzbekistan gained the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, which were previously under Tajik rule.

Most of the large cities in Uzbekistan, most particularly the capital of Tashkent, were built under Soviet rule in the 1900s and the Soviet's simple construction focused on use over esthetics and can be seen everywhere. During this time period many buildings were constructed for housing and industrial plants as a mass urbanization occurred.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 a number of modern and post-modern buildings have been built, again these new buildings have been focused in the capital.

This page was last updated: March, 2013