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.
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.
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.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mir-i-Arab Medressa (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 Mir-i-Arab Medressa.
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