After crossing Pushkin street to reach the old neighbourhood of eastern Bukhara, we walked the maze of alleys that were mostly empty. A bunch of kids was playing football somewhere, but otherwise, nothing here looked like other, much busier, parts of Bukhara. It was a relaxed and pleasant walk. Then, on our right, we stumbled upon a small square with the goal of our stroll: the unmistakeable sight of modest Char Minar with its typical four towers. No, this is not a mosque, and the towers are not minarets. Cubic Char Minar was built in the early 19th century as the gateway to a madrassa which has disappeared. It was recognized that this building has remarkable architectural merits; when one of the towers collapsed, it was restored by Unesco.
The sun was getting lower already - and the heat that had been pressing on Bukhara and its people just a few hours before, was gradually getting less oppressive. We crossed the square to reach the entrance of Char Minar, a door was opened, and we entered the small hall. Here, things looked more like elsewhere in Bukhara: souvenirs were stacked inside covering all the walls. But we were not here to shop, and walked the bare stairs to reach the first floor, from where it seemed we could choose four entrances. As it turned out, three were blocked, and the fourth one did not lead up one of the towers, but merely gave access to the platform on which a small cupola is built.
The four towers turned out to be closed, so we stayed at the platform. I discovered a stone sticking out of the roof of the cupola, braved the boiling hot stone and pushed myself up to the top of it. It offered a great view of the four towers with their beautiful green domes, pointing towards a perfectly blue sky. While initially slightly disappointed that the towers were not open to visitors, I now realized that seeing them from the outside was probably even better than being inside. After spending a good time on the roof, we continued our walk through the old neighbourhood of Bukhara, towards the west, through more deserted alleys, squares, and courtyards.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Char Minar (Uzbekistan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Char Minar. Read more about this site.