Registan, samarkand, Uzbekistan

The centerpiece of historic Samarkand (see p122) is the Registan, a beautifully proportioned group of madrasahs (schools) adorned with majolica and mosaics. In the archway above the door of the 17th-century Sher Dor Madrasah are mosaics of lions attacking deer – rare in Islamic art, which does not usually portray animals or human figures. Opposite stands the the sublime Ulughbek Madrasah, with its soaring columns and astronomical motifs. A third madrasah is named Tilla-Kari – “coated with gold” – for the gilding covering its dome and walls.

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