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Home » Bukhara architectural ensembles and complexes. The basic places of interest of sacred Bukhara.

Architectural ensemble Lyabi Hauz.

Excursion tours over monuments of Bukhara.

In the heart of Bukhara's old town lies a square where young and old, natives and visitors come together. The perfect spot to take a break, to meet old friends, to make new ones, to ponder the past and to draw the future. That's Lyabi Hauz.
In olden days the city's administrative, cultural and trade center, Lyabi Hauz nowadays provides tranquility and the atmosphere you expect to find in such a historic town. Never state that you have been to Bukhara if you have not visited Lyabi Hauz, have not sipped green tea in the chaikhana, have not conversed with the old wise men who seem to have made the square their perpetual home, have not watched them play their traditional game of backgammon or dominoes.
Lyabi Hauz is where you most feel the spirit that has made Bukhara legendary, the hospitality of its people and the peculiarities of their multiethnical characters. Lyabi Hauz is translated as "round the pond".
People say: "when the water ends, life ends". This is why traditionally, one settled close to a source of water. Bukhara was built in such a way that in the center of each residential area, the Mahalla, there was a pond, the hauz, onto which all homes faced.
Lyabi Hauz (36 x 42m, up to 5m deep) is surrounded not by private residences but by some of the most splendid monumental buildings of the XVI and XVII century, shaping a unique architectural ensemble over time. 
Kukeldash Madrasah was constructed in 1578. She is still among the biggest buildings in Bukhara and one of the largest in Central Asia. Formerly this institut of higher learning accommodated students and scolars in its 160 cells complete with mosque, darskhana lecture rooms and other facilities.
Architects faced tricky conditions; space was limited and the wishes of the Emir required ingenious solutions for the vaults in the mosque's central hall and the darskhana, which consist of molt ganch.
A carved wooden door, the wings of which are decorated with complex stellar patterns, is equally stunning. On the internal portal fragments of glazed tiles covered with vegetative design remain to this day.
In 1620 Nodir Devon Begi, the prime minister, ordered the construction of a hauz on the southern side of the Kukeldash Medresse and a Khanaka (monastery) in his name on the west side of the pond.
The small cells were accessible both from the adjacent mosque and the narrow city lanes and the mosque reflected the sumptuous taste of Nodir Devon Begi, with the mekhrab adorned by complex ganch stalactites, a ceiling covered with vegetative patterns and walls decorated with girikh, intricate geometric patterns as well as suras from the Koran drawn on majolica mainly in blue and white on the high portal. The facade is reflected in the water of the hauz and today faces the Nodir Devon Begi Medresse, comissioned two years later on the eastern side of the hauz. 
The latter was originally planned as a caravansarai and only half way into construction turned into a medresse (1622); consequently the absence of a mosque and a darskhana, two vital elements of a medresse are notable and the cells were cramped quarters for studying and living.
However, only on the portal of Nodir Devon Begi Medresse will you find the images of Semurg, the phantastic bird of many legends, and the swift-footed fallow-deers, very much not in compliance with Islamic architectural elements.
Lyabi Hauz complex is under governmental protection, carefully restored and maintained. The monuments are full of life, vendors sell wares from all over Central Asia and the skillful Bukhara craftsmen (metal chasers, wood-carver, and gold-embroidery masters) create their unique masterpieces, equally for sales.
The subtle works of miniature-painters will charm you and every evening in season, graceful dancers in beautiful costumes will delight you with local folk dance to a live orchestra while you enjoy a meal under the stars and remember 1001 fairy tales of your childhood.
Come to Bukhara, settle on a tapchan in the shadow of 500-year-old trees at the world famous Lyabi Hauz chai khana, indulge in people watching, cast a glance at the statue of Khodja Nasriddin and it will dawn upon you: they look like each other, this bronze hero from eastern tales and the people around you!
The same wise faces, the same friendly cunning in the eyes. and magically you will have found the key to understanding this unique country and the culture you have travelled so far to come see.