Marvel at the Madrasahs of Registan Square | Samarkand

by Vanessa Wanders Miles

Madrasahs of Registan Square-Samarkand-UZBEKISTAN

The Madrasahs of Registan Square have been hailed as the most important attraction in the ancient city of Samarkand. This UNESCO World Heritage site is known as the ‘the pearl of Central Asia’ and quite rightly so, Registan Square took my breath away.

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Each of the buildings, Ulugh Beg Madrasah,  Sher-Dor Madrasah, and Tilya-Kori Madrasah, are individually stunning but the three of them together in such close proximity are just awe-inspiring. Huge, with geometric central buildings and towers to the side they tower above the square below. It’s the intricate decoration that I find just a little bit mind-bending. The frontages are covered with ceramic tiles and majolica in shades of blue, pale yellow, and orange. There are tigers, suns, stars, and wonderful patterns all beautifully reflecting the sunshine.

Ulugh Beg Madrasah

The Ulugh Beg Madrasah is the oldest of the three monoliths on the square. It was completed in 1420 by Ulugh Beg the grandson of Timur. He was a great astronomer and mathematician and for many, many years his madrasah was the finest university in Central Asia. Once you step inside the beautifully ornate interior will hit you straight away, the blue and glittering gold was floor to ceiling.

Ulugh-Beg Madrasah of Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Sher-Dor Madrasah

200 years later in 1636, the second Madrassah was completed. Yalangtush Bahadur, the ruler of Samarkand, requested that this madrasah be built on the east side of the Registan completely mirroring that of Ulugh Beg. Architects have not taken into account that this building had sunk into the ground over the past 200 years so Sher-Dor stands taller. The name Sher-Dor derives from the mosaic images on the portal: two big golden tigers carrying a sun on their backs, they are very unusual both in design and purpose. Our guide explained that creating images of sentient beings is frowned upon in Islam and to do so in front of such a prominent seat of religious instruction in a place as important as The Registan is very controversial.Sher Dor Madrasah in Registan Square, Samrkand

Tilya-Kori Madrasah

The third of the Madrasahs was finished in 1660 by Yalangtush Bahadur who wanted to complete the Registan ensemble. The building emulates Bukhara’s traditional style of architecture hence why the proportions vary but it does not detract from the fact that this is one of the most opulent examples of student accommodation that I have ever seen and probably will ever see. The split-level building encloses a courtyard and intricate gold leaf designs with a celestial theme cover the entire building. The name of the Madrasah is derived from the rich golden decoration on the faсade. “Tilya-Kori” is translated as “gilded” or “decorated with gold”.

Registan Square at night in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

FAQs for Registan Square

Where is Registan Square?

No directions are needed, everyone in the city can direct you but it is on Registan Street (what a coincidence). Here the Google link to Registan Square, just in case!

How to book a tour of Registan Square?

There are some information boards for visitors there but I love to hear the history of places such as Registan Square from locals. Check out some of the  REGISTAN SQUARE TOURS available.

What are the entrance fees to Registan Square?

You will pay 30,000 Som to enter. There are lots of stunning architecture to explore, I could’ve quite happily spent a good half day there.

Is there a light show at Registan Square?

Head to Registan Square after sunset to see the light show at Regsitan Square. We’d heard the light show at Registan Square was not to be missed. However, there was no laser and sound when we went but it was stunning to see the Madrasahs with floodlights in different colours against the Madrasahs at night.

Are there any scams at Registan Square?

Be careful if you are offered to be escorted to the top of the minarets by an ‘official guide’, it’s quite possible you’re asked to empty your pockets when you get there.

What is the best travel Insurance for Uzbekistan?

Remember travel insurance to cover unknown eventualities. Here are some tried-and-tested travel insurance options to check out;

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Samarkand: Booking Resources

Book a tour of Samarkand

Useful links for your Samarkand trip



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dansontheroad 23rd October 2018 - 8:11 am

Each and every madrasah is so gorgeous, I’d get myself a magnifying glass just to admire the intricate mosaics on the walls!

Vanessa 27th October 2018 - 7:26 pm

You could spend so long looking at them, they’re incredible.

Mayuri Patel 28th October 2018 - 10:28 am

such stunning photos of Uzbekistan.Lovely article with detailed information.

Vanessa 9th November 2018 - 1:56 pm

Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. Uzbekistan is wonderful country.


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