Antiquities of Samarkand. Madrasah of Ulugh Beg. View of a One-Storied Gallery Surrounding the Interior of the Courtyard


This photograph of a portion of the interior courtyard 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 medrese, which was considered a leading center of Islamic education. This view shows the ground floor of a courtyard arcade built with rooms for scholars. Such cells (khujras) were originally part of a two-story arcade that enclosed the madrasah courtyard. Despite extensive damage, the arcade facade still displays fragments of polychrome faience decoration with intricate geometric and floral patterns. To the right is the corner of a large iwan (vaulted hall, walled on three sides, with one end open) arch.

Subject Date

Publication Information

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Title in Original Language

Самаркандския древности. Медрессэ Улуг-Бек. Вид одноэтажных келии окружающих внутренность двора

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : albumen


  • Illustration in: Turkestan Album, Archaeological Part, 1871-1872, part 1, volume 2, plate 113.

Last updated: September 30, 2016