Ark-Citadel is a residence of Bukhara khans. According to the last excavations, it was determined the citadel was on this place from 4 century BC. For many years of building and destruction, 20 meters height artificial hill was formed; its upper layers were built over in the time of last bokharan emirs. The wooden part of Ark building was burnt down during the fire of 1920. The general planning is being reestablished by historical documents. Ark included the whole city, consisting of closely accreted houses; courts and yards with state institutions, emir, his wives, and relatives and officials lodgings. Inside the trapeziform outlines of citadel walls the planning was right-angled with traditional cruciform crossing of main streets.
Ark included: emir lodging, throe-room, police department, stables, stores of clothes, carpets, utensils, treasures, armoury, jail, jeweler’s and other workshops, mint place, mosques, mazars and other buildings. The first, you can see it is massive fortress gates of Ark - portal with two-storey towers by sides from arch aperture and latticed architecture gallery on top. Behind it there is a musical pavilion, built in 17 century, two-coloured audience chamber, surrounded by gallery. Here during a day there was performed a series of makoms – it is a musical work; through it people could know the time (it is tradition left from zoroastrizm time). From ayvan, tsarevitches was looking at solemnities and executions at Registan Square before Ark. To citadel inside leads from Ark gates the gloomy, arched and raising up passage-dalon. By its side there can be seen 12 niches, leading to damp dungeons, where prisoners were lauguishing. There were awful casemates and in dungeons under bridge of planks and Ark gates towers.
To the south of entrance from the dalon, there is the most interesting of reserved monuments – throne-room of Bukharan emir, drawing room for ceremonies and festivals. It was vast, brick-paved yard surrounded by ayvans on well-proportioned wooden pillars from 3 sides. On the long axis yard in deep ayvan there is emir throne. This marble “takht” dated to 1669, under painted, wooden canopy on fretted marble pillars, was made by Nuratian masters.
Of all the medieval buildings in Bukhara, the Samanids Mausoleum is of special interest. This world-famous architectural masterpiece was built at the close of the ninth century. The mausoleum was erected as a family crypt immediately after the death of Ismail Samani's father. Later, Ismail himself and his grandson Hasr were also buried in it. It is interesting to note that erecting crypts was against Islamic law at that time, for Islam forbade erecting any post-mortem monuments upon the tombs of Muslim believers. However, the prohibition was broken in the middle of the ninth century by one of the caliphs himself, for whom a special as-Suli-biya Mausoleum was built. Ismail merely followed his example.
The Samanids Mausoleum reveals the genius of a plain design. This is seen in its composition and the balanced design of its facades and interiors. It is composed of a semi-spherical dome resting on a cube. All of the facades are identical and marked with three-quarter domed columns on the corners. There is an upper armature and a central entrance with a visible horizontal dividing line. The core is characterized by regular kiln-dried bricks, forming horizontal, vertical, and diagonal patterns on the walls. There are also separate details in the shape of disks or rosettes. Analysis shows that all elements in the Mausoleum are based on squares and diagonals: the elements form geometrically digressive lines. The same unification is seen in the architectural forms and kiln-dried brickwork in the interiors. The architectural design of the Samoniy mausoleum is entirely unique. It owes much to pre-lslamic Soghdian architecture, which used four-arch domed compositions and diminished forms on the top of buildings, including disks and rosettes on decoration columns (as can also be seen in the section between the dome and the drum of the interior). Although this building is connected with pre-Islamic architecture, it also anticipates the emergence of a new architectural style with comparatively small dimensions; the Samoniy Mausoleum is full of magnificence and feeling of moving from this world to the world that lasts forever.
On the way to park exit; you can see one more interesting monument – Chashma-Aiyub. It is difficult, repeatedly rebuilt during 14 – 19 centuries, multicells mausoleum; it has a shape of oblong prism, covered with cupolas over apartments of different size and shape. Double cupola with cone calotte, raised on cylindrical drum, marked itself the main apartment with wellspring source. Hence the name Chashma-Aiyub (Iov spring).
It is the main ensemble in Bukhara center, situated on the way to trade crossing of "four bazars" and Poi-Kalyan means “the pedestal of the Great” (it means “the pedestal of Kalyan minaret”). Ensemble consists of 4 monuments: Kalyan mosque and Mini-Arab Madrassah – faced to each other with main fronts; between them is Kalyan minaret; to the south of Mini-Arab there is small Amir-Allimkhan Madrassah.
Kalyan Minaret – it is a great vertical pillar, rising above the city. To proclaim the appeal to the pray – azal, it was enough to rise mosque roof, as it was in first centuries after Islam establishment. The word “minaret” descends from “minor” – it is a place, where something is on fire, the fire was set in leading light like this, between them in ancient world there were vast many-storey towers, like Phaross light-house of 143 meters height, dating to 283 BC.
Minarets played an exceptional role in architectual ensembles creating the city peculiarity.
In the beginning of 12 century – Arslan-khan ordered to transfer the minaret of old cathedral mosque far from fortress. When this work had been finished “someone overlooked the building”, minaret fell on the cathedral mosque and destroyed its 2/3. For the second time Arslan-khan ordered to built minaret. By inscription in turquoise majolica, under light cornice of Kalyan minaret, it was determined that it was finished in 1127. You can read “the name of Arslan-khan” on the half weight of stem. And it was found the name of master – Bano, whose burial place, local inhabitants pointed out between the next blockhouses. Kalyan minaret represents characteristic Maveranahr style of roundtrunk brick tower, decorated by the arch light. Its lower diameter – 9 meters, up diameter – 6 meters, total height is 45,6 meters. There is a brink-winding staircase inside trunk. Sixteen-arch light rotunda hangs over minaret trunk leaning on running out laying rows, decorated as stalactite cornice.
Kalyan Madrassah is dated to architecture masterpiece; it is a monument of 5 century, raised from the ruins during the years of Soviet power. In the beginning of 16 century, the mosque was partly reconstructed. The shapes of amazing arches and portal décor have already carried the features of new style, developed in Bukharan oasis in 16-17 centuries.
The inscription under arch portal dates time of reconstruction. This is a poem from Koran, at the end of which we can see the date 1514-1515. In 1541 at the entrance of main portal was fixed a marble board with cut text of Abdullaziz I, this order runs that Bukharan inhabitants were free of some taxes payment.
From the beginnings of Islam, there have been three types of mosques: Djuma mosques, which are intended for the large crowds that come to Friday services, Namazga country mosques (musalla idgoh), which are used by the male population of both the city and the surrounding countryside to celebrate the two Muslim holidays Qurban and Ramazan, and Quzar mosques, which are designed to be used as daily mosques in residential neighbourhoods.
We know very little about the thirteenth century Djuma Mosque in Bukhara, for it has been rebuilt completely since the time of its original construction. In any case, it had a vast courtyard surrounded by galleries. However, the minaret which was built in 1127 A.D. and called the Kalyan (Great) Minaret, has survived. It still dominates the skyline of Bukhara, astonishing all who see it with its magnificent and flawless shape. The minaret was designated to summon Muslims to prayer five times a day. Normally, each mosque had its own minaret, but the main minaret was situated near the Djuma Mosque. It was from the gallery, at the top of the minaret, that the muedzin summoned the believers to prayer at the top of his voice.
The Kalyan Minaret was built twice. The fact is it collapsed just before it was completed the first time, probably because of the builders did not take into account the soft ground underneath, due to the many cultural layers beneath the city. A new, more durable foundation was laid for the minaret and, by 1127, construction of this second minaret was completed. According to someone writing at the time, «there was nothing like this minaret, for it was built very beautifully». Indeed, the forty-eight m tall Kalyan Minaret is a flawless example of both civil engineering and superior architectural creation. The baked bricks it is made from form a monolithic circular tower that narrows from its thick base to its top.
The body of the minaret is topped by a rotunda with 16 arched fenestrations, from which the muedzins gave the call to prayer. In times of siege or war, warriors used the minaret as a watchtower. Earlier, the minaret apparently had another round section above the rotunda, but now only the cone-shaped top is left. The baked bricks, from which the minaret is made, are the main feature of its architectural design. The body of minaret is belted with narrow ornamental strings made of bricks. They are arranged in a chessboard order, either straight or diagonally. A frieze with inscriptions goes around the minaret upon a muqarnas (stalactite) cornice. The frieze is covered with blue glaze, which was used widely in the architectural decor of Bukhara at that time.
It is one of the best Bukhara architectual school monuments of 16 century. Architecture and décor of Miri-Arab distinguish by highest culture and taste. At present in this monument, which underwent catastrophical detruction, portal and whole northern wing of main fasadewere restored up, cupola and yard-arcades construction were strengthen.
Near Miri-Arab Madrassah is Amir-Alimkhan Madrassah. It was built in the end of 19 – beginning of 20 centuries, with using of unusual shape – in look of common living and economic yards in one together. From 1924, the monument served as urban library, what is quite in order: «Noble Bukhara», as it was called in the East, always was one of the scientific and the knowledge center and had large book-depository.