Ulugbeg Madrasa in Bukhara

Ulugbeg Madrasah in BUkhara

During the reign of Ulugbek (Timur’s grandson) education was actively developing throughout the Timurid empire. Engaged in educational activities, Ulugbek erected many splendid madrasahs in various cities. The current Ulugbeg’s Madrassa in Bukhara was erected in 1417. It is the earliest of three such madrassas and the other two later ones are established in Samarkand and Gijduvan. This madrassa sits east of the Poi Kalyon next to the Abdul Aziz Khan madrassah and not far from two of the trading domes of Bukhara.

The construction of Ulugbeg’s madrasa was carried out by the best architects of that era. The structure looks very harmonious and balanced even today. However, it got its present look with majolica decorating in 1585 during restoration work. With the strict and modest decoration, the grand building is considered one of the main works of architecture of that time. The madrasah is an impressive rectangular structure and the front entrance is designed with a large portal. The configuration of the structure differs from many of its kind. By tradition, in most madrasahs, the widest central corridor leads to the courtyard. In Ulugbek madrasah, this tradition is broken. The corridor leading from the doors is divided into two parts, the first of which leads to the mosque and the second leads to the study hall. The entrance hall of the educational institution was decorated with a carved extract from the Koran saying that every true muslim must strive for knowledge. This saying was a kind of motto of Ulugbek himself. Nearby there is another inscription, which tells that those who have comprehended the wisdom of books are awaiting the God’s blessing.  

Since Ulugbeg was famous to the world for his numerous scientific studies in the astronomical field, astral decoration that reflects Ulugbek’s desire to comprehend the secrets of the universe, was applied in the madrassah. If you observe closely the patterns and ornaments on the walls of the building, you can notice that they were applied in various techniques. This is due to the numerous restorations of the building. 

Initially, the educational institution, built by Ulugbek’s order, was designed to fit 80 students. The madrassah was focused on the subject of mathematical and astronomical sciences, the Arabic language and religion. According to historical data, up to 150 students studied here at the same time. They had not only housing but also a decent scholarship. 

Ulugbek madrassa in Bukhara

Other sights in Bukhara

Page updated 16.1.2021

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