Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. Entrance to the Congregational Mosque


This photograph of the mosque at the Ulugh Beg Madrasah in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is from the archeological part of Turkestan Album. The six-volume photographic survey was produced in 1871-72 under the patronage of General Konstantin P. von Kaufman, the first governor-general (1867-82) of Turkestan, as the Russian Empire’s Central Asian territories were called. The album devotes special attention to Samarkand’s Islamic architecture, such as 14th- and 15th-century monuments from the reign of Timur (Tamerlane) and his successors. In the center of Samarkand is the Registan ensemble, composed of three major examples of a madrasah (religious school). The oldest madrasah on Registan Square is named after the astronomer-king and grandson of Timur, Ulugh Beg (1393?-1449), who built it in 1417-20. During Ulugh Beg’s reign, some 100 students attended the madrasah, which was considered a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch of the mosque, located at the west wall of the madrasah courtyard. Although severe structural damage (most likely from earthquakes) led to the loss of the ceramic surface in the upper part of the iwan, the facades still show large areas of polychrome decoration, with a mixture of geometric and botanical motifs. The arch is framed by ceramic columns, while the outer edges of the iwan display richly ornamented vertical bands. On either side of the iwan are remnants of a two-story arcade that contained rooms for scholars.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia


Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Улуг-Бек. Вход в соборную мечеть

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 111.

Last updated: September 30, 2016