Trans Eurasia travel

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Other sights

Malik Azhdar Mosque

Malik Azhdar Mosque is quite old and modest, it is off the tourist track a bit- one have to wander around a residential neighborhood to find it. Its still in use but has not been restored and so it shows its age more than some of the others
The new and vaguely interesting Amir Timur Museum, 100 metres east of Hotel Orient Star occupies the former Chubin Madrassah. It was restored in the 1990s, the theological students and their teachers long gone; Museum's exhibits include local archaeological finds including rather fine relics from a Zoroastrian ossuary, a tiny Koran amulet, tiles from the Ak Serai, an 18kg set of chain mail and cannon balls used by Bukharan Emir Abdullah during an attack on the city. It's highlight is a model depicting Timur’s entire kingdom, from Egypt to Kashgar. Beyond the boundaries of the kingdom, a yellow line illustrates his ‘protectorates’, including Kiev and Moscow. If that doesn’t interest you, the museum is probably not worth the price of admission, although there are some old Buddhist and Zoroastrian artefacts here that predate Timur by many centuries.

West of the Orient Star is the 14th century Malik Azhdar Khanagha, former home to wandering Sufic dervishes. The working mosque beneath its large brick dome (1904) served briefly as the city's Jummi Mosque for Friday prayers, until Soviet atheism made it a museum. A more popular secular role as a chaikhana was the fate of the Abdushukur Ogolliq Mosque and Madrassah (1914), previously called the Khodja Mirkhamid and now reopened as a neighbourhood mosque, south along Shakhrisabz's main street. Nearby a 15th century bathhouse is once again open for business, to prolong over 500 years of public service. The Koba madrassah opposite is of equal age, though later use as a caravanserai determined its new life as series of workshops rather than seminary.

A five-minute walk east of the madrassah brings you to Shakhrisabz's current Jami Mosque (1915). Back on main street, approach the Chorsu (four ways) domed bazaar, a classic Silk Road structure first built on the trade crossroads of the 15th century. Chorsu still serves its original purpose. The external dome covers an octagonal hall, which is surrounded by four smaller domes, each with its own portal. The bustling stalls inside spill out onto the square outside and there are some curious objects on sale: the handmade wooden cribs, for example, are constructed with a hole in the base to facilitate the easy cleaning of baby in the absence of a nappy!

Just across the road is the charming Kullolik Chaikhana, where white-bearded men play backgammon and chess under swinging birdcages, while their wives sell jewellery outside in an impromptu bazaar.