Fast Facts

  • Location: Samarkand, Uzbekistan
  • Attraction Type: Necropolis
  • Significance: The world-famous necropolis of Central Asia
  • Best Time To Visit: From the end of August to October and end of February to the beginning of April
  • How To Reach: Many international flights from around the world come to the capital city of Uzbekistan in Tashkent. You can take a bus or flight from Tashkent to Samarkand in the north. The bus will take five hours to reach.
  • Nearest Airport: Samarkand Airport

Pilgrims from the world over still come to worship and pray at Qusam ibn Abbas’s tomb. It was considered auspicious to be buried at the side of such a holy man. Therefore, the whole area became a big graveyard with many beautiful mausoleums and also smaller tombs around. Even today, the public try to get buried in this graveyard even though it is very expensive.

The burial vault Shah-i-Zinda is situated on the southeast slope of Afrosiab hill. Being one of the ancient architectural ensembles of Samarkand, it has become the world-famous necropolis of Central Asia. The complex of Shahi-Zinda comprises of sixteen structures including one of Qusam ibn Abbas, supposedly the cousin of Prophet Muhammad. The name, Shah-i-Zinda means “Tomb of the Living King”, referring to its original, innermost and holiest shrine which a complex of cool, quiet rooms around what is the grave of Qusam ibn-Abbas.

The complex of Shah-i-Zinda in Samarkand was formed over nine centuries and includes more than twenty buildings. The whole complex has undergone an extensive restoration. Some of these buildings with glazed bricks, blue cupolas, majolica on high portals, ornamented stone arches, ornaments of piles have been restored by the architects and folk foremen. The ensemble comprises three groups of structures: lower, middle and upper connected by four-arched domed passages locally called chart. The earliest buildings date back to the 11-12th century. Mainly their bases and headstones remain now.

There are many legends surrounding the place, the important one is that Quasam ibn Abbas, who was beheaded, will rise again. There are many other mausoleums in the complex built around the 13th century. Shah-i-Zinda began to take on its current form in the 14th century as Timur and afterward Ulugbek buried their family and friends near the Living King.

The most beautiful tomb in Shah-i-Zinda is undoubtedly the Shadi Mulk Aka Mausoleum built in1372. It was the resting place of one of Timur’s wives, second on the left after the entry stairs. The elegant tile work here was of such exceptional quality that it needed only little restoration.

This complex of monuments of ancient architecture has its own uniqueness, attracting tourists as well as locals. From the entrance arc, steep and long staircase leads to the mountain of Afrosiab. While entering the Shah-i-Zinda you must show respect and dress conservatively as it is an important place of pilgrimage. Until the beginning of the 20th century, non-Muslims and strangers were not allowed to enter the necropolis.

Accommodation near Shah-i-Zinda
While visiting Shah-i-Zinda, you can stay in any of the following accommodations in Registan and the area near Navoi: Zarina, Malika, Konstantin Hotel, Hotel Registan, Hotel President, Grand Samarkand, Dilshoda, Afrosiab Hotel and many more.

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