Registan Square in Samarkand is one of the most iconic locations in Uzbekistan – three huge madrassas, with exquisite ornamentation and tile work, form a large public square. The oldest one madrassa is from the 1400s, the two others from the 1600s, and were built at the time that Samarkand was the heart of the Timurid Empire, and the site of Islamic revival and learning in Central Asia – artisans and scholars came (or were brought) from all over the Empire.
Registan had fallen into disrepair by the start of the 20th century, but went under major restoration during the Soviet era. It’s now a huge tourist draw, and for good reason. Apart from being historically and culturally important, it is absolutely stunning – it’s considered a gems of medieval Islamic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
There are many incredible pictures of Registan – I cam across a collection by photographer Jan Willem van Hofwegen that shows the incredible details inside. Here’s a sample of what the interiors look like – take a look at his full collection here.
There’s also great videos out there that give you a sense of the scale and detail of Registan:
Interestingly, the front of the Sher-Dor (“Lion-Bearing”) Madrasah is notable for showing living things, normally prohibited in Islamic art. Most notable are the lions (also called tigers) with a glowing sun-face inside them. The faces have been claimed to be the emir at the time of construction, but it’s likely that these were influenced by older Persian and Zoroastrian traditions.
There are also cool light shows held at Registan!