Bibi-Khanym Mosque

sights / Religious

Bibi-Khanym Mosque information

Samarkand (Samarqand) , Uzbekistan
Toshkent yo'li
admission 9000S
Opening hours
8am-7pm Apr-Oct, 9am-5pm Nov-Mar
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The enormous congregational Bibi-Khanym Mosque, northeast of the Registan, was finished shortly before Timur’s death and must have been the jewel of his empire. Once one of the Islamic world’s biggest mosques (the cupola of the main mosque is 41m high and the pishtak 38m), it pushed contemporary construction techniques to the limit. Slowly crumbling over the years, the mosque partially collapsed in an earthquake in 1897 before being rebuilt in the 1970s. Today it's badly in need of further restoration work, especially on its façade, while the mosque itself looks as though it may fall in on itself at any moment, although the souvenir sellers inside continue to ply their trade without an apparent worry in the world.

Legend says that Bibi-Khanym, Timur’s Chinese wife, ordered the mosque built as a surprise while he was away. The architect fell madly in love with her and refused to finish the job unless he could give her a kiss. The smooch left a mark and Timur, on seeing it, executed the architect and decreed that women should henceforth wear veils so as not to tempt other men.

The interior courtyard contains an enormous marble Quran stand that lends some scale to the place. Local lore has it that any woman who crawls under the stand will have lots of children. The courtyard also contains two smaller mosques. The one on the left as you enter through the enormous main gate has an impressive unrestored interior festooned with Arabic calligraphy.