Shakhrisabz is a city in Qashqadaryo Province in southern Uzbekistan located approximately 80 km south of Samarkand with the population of 53,000 (1991). It is located at the altitude of 622 m. Once a major city of Central Asia, it is primarily known today as the birthplace of 14th century Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur.
Formerly known as Kesh (i.e., "heart-pleasing") and tentatively identified with the ancient Nautaca, Shahrisabz is one of Central Asia’s most ancient cities. It was founded more than 2700 years ago. its name was officially changed to Shahrisabz in the modern era.
From the 6th to 4th centuries BC it was a part of Akhemenid empire.
Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy captured the satrap of Bactria and pretender to the Persian throne, Bessus, at Nautaca thus ending the once great Achaemenid Empire. Alexander the Great chose to spend his winters and met his wife Roxanna in the area in 328-327 BC.
From 4th to 8th century Kesh was one of urban centers of Sogdiana.
In 710 city was conqured by Arabs.Between 567 and 658 rulers of Kesh paid taxes to caghans of Turkic and Western Turkic caghanates.
Shahrisabz was the birthplace of Timur on April 9, 1336, to the family of a minor local chief, and during the early years of the Timurid Dynasty, enjoyed its considerable patronage. Timur regarded Shahrisabz as his “home town” and planned it eventually to be the location of his tomb. However, during the Timurid period, the center of activity shifted to Samarkand instead.
According to legend, The Khan of Bukhara, Abdullah Khan II had the city destroyed in a fit of rage over the death of his favorite horse from exhaustion on a steep approach the city, but was later overcome with remorse for the damage he had done.
The city struggled for autonomy under Bukharan rule. The Russians helped Bukharan emir to conquere the city in 1870.
Looking at the well-groomed modern appearance it is difficult to believe that this city is 2700 years old and that it has played a significant role in the history of Central Asian region. Formerly Shakhrisabz was the capital of the ancient state of Sogd and had the name of Kesh. It was the famous center of culture, trade and handicrafts. In 329 BC Alexander the Great conquered the city and soon Hellenistic culture and cult of the Greek gods appeared there. Over millennium Shakhrisabz was under the reign of various dynasties and in the 8th century it was the center of anti-Arab and anti-Islam rebellion.
Today this wonderful city is more famous thanks to Amir Temur (Tamerlane), who was born in the neighboring village of Hodja-Ilgar. Becoming the ruler, he turned Shakhrisabz into his residence and ordered to build the palace, known as Ak-Saray (White palace). By the way, at that time Kesh was renamed to Shakhrisabz, which means in Persian “Green city”.
Today the city has a lot of architectural sights; historical center of the city is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Here you will find ruins of the palace Ak-Saray, the memorial complex Dorut Tilovat, the mosque Kok-Gumbaz, mausoleums Dorus Siodat, Shamsad-Dina Kulyala, Gumbazi-Seyidan. For years, the city government has been planning the city building so that to preserve ancient Shakhrisabz monuments for next generations.
Economy of the city is concentrated on the cotton processing, preservation, agricultural machinery manufacture and handicrafts. Shakhrisabz is renowned for peculiar carpet weaving, fine embroidery, tubeteikas (Uzbek caps). Handicraft industry has the long-years history and has taken in cultures of neighboring nations. Articles of local masters win many international exhibitions and festivals. Moreover, Shakhrisabz is famous for its brand wine, which took first places on international wine competitions.
Also Shakhrisabz has transport importance: it is located on the Great Uzbek Highway, which repeats the route of the Italian traveler and trader Marco Polo.
Historical and architectural monuments of Shakhrisabz