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Uzbekistan: Mir-i-Arab Medressa

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Mir-i-Arab Medressa | Uzbekistan | Asia

[Visited: June 2010]

When we arrived in the early morning at the Po-i-Kalon complex, the buildings around the majestic Kalon minaret, the sun was starting to shine on the Kalon mosque. We settled in the shadow of the Mir-i-Arab medressa, where lots of young students were going in. Every student seemed to be rushing in faster than the previous one, and we became increasingly interested in entering ourselves. The entrance hall was nice and cool. After the enormous and beautiful portal of the medressa, the decorations in the entrance hall were much simpler. A grated window offered us a glimpse of the courtyard behind - where we knew we were not allowed to thread.

Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Arches, domes and a big portal: facade of the Mir-i-Arab medressa

Instead, we stayed in the entrance hall itself, and enjoyed the sound of quick steps coming down the high-step stairs - probably interns on their way to class. Mir-i-Arab medressa was founded by a 16-century Yemeni sheikh who, instead of acceding to the throne in Yemen, decided to get education, and ended up in Samarkand. Soon becoming a teacher and a specialist in Sufism, he became acquainted with the emir of Bukhara. After various other projects in the neighbourhood, like the digging of wells, creating of gardens, and constructing canals, he started building the present medressa in 1530 with help of the emir. Even though he died before its completion, the medressa has grown into a lively school, and still now attracts many students from the region.

Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Running big steps at the entrance of Mir-i-Arab medressa

The Mir-i-Arab medressa was closed in 1920, but reopened near the end of the Second World War, in an effort of Stalin to gain the sympathy of the Muslims. It now provides education and living to over a hundred students - not only religious education, but also languages and IT skills. The emir and sheikh are both buried under one of the domes. We came back to see the medressa at the end of the afternoon - and what a different sight it was! The orange light gave the facade of the Mir-i-Arab medressa a warm glow, the oval-shaped green and blue domes and the rectangular portal, both richly decorated, became more brilliant by the minute. We decided to have dinner right across the street to enjoy the spectacle of the setting sun on the complex. Later, when we walked back to the city centre, the silhouette of the dome and the complex were black with an orange glimmer at the horizon.

Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Dusk falling over Mir-i-Arab medressa
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Green-and-blue tiled dome of the Mir-i-Arab medressa
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Star-shaped ceiling in the entrance hall of Mir-i-Arab medressa
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Having a break in the courtyard of Mir-i-Arab medressa
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Bronze with Arabic calligraphy at the entrance of Mir-i-Arab medressa
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Part of one side of the Mir-i-Arab medressa
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Huge portal of the Mir-i-Arab medressa just before sunset
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Warm late afternoon light on the Mir-i-Arab medressa
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Arches and dome: frontal view of part of the Mir-i-Arab medressa
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): Entrance hall with traditionally dressed Uzbeks
Picture of Mir-i-Arab Medressa (Uzbekistan): One of the stairs leading to the student rooms in the entrance hall

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