The Palace Complex of Ak-Saray

The Palace Complex of Ak-Saray

The Palace Complex of Ak-Saray
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Popular mentions

4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles163 reviews
Excellent
56
Very good
63
Average
36
Poor
5
Terrible
3

Kathryn C
Dunstable, UK408 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2022
Sadly, the monumental gateway is all that remains of Amir Temur's palace in his first capital city but it serves as a backdrop to the great leader's magnificent monument beyond.
Written 27 August 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brun066
Florence, Italy12,740 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
The capital of the Timurid empire, i.e. of the heirs of Tamerlane – Temir Amur (which at the end of the XIVth century ranged from the Indus Valley to the Aegean Sea) was certainly Samarkand. But Tamerlane and his family were originally from Shakrisabz, this city over 100 kms south of Samarkand, separated from it by a rugged mountain range.
And in Shakrisabz in fact there is a significant monumental heritage (now a UNESCO site); the mausoleums of Tamerlane's ancestors and some of his sons and daughters, and precisely the complex of Aksaray, former Imperial Palace of Tamerlane.
It was characterized by a typically Asian gigantism. A very partial but gorgeous echo of it is the incredible entrance arch (of which the top part has collapsed), which was inspired by the arch (still intact and not collapsed like this one) in Ctesiphon, capital of the Sassanids (Parthians) in Mesopotamia.
Unfortunately the palace is no longer juxtaposed with the historic center to which it belonged. According to a practice typical of Europe in the 19th century, and unfortunately still widespread in Uzbekistan (see various spots in Bukhara, or in Samarkand itself), this has been "restored", i.e. practically demolished, and very few buildings have been spared judged worthy (moreover heavily restored). The remaining part has been leveled and transformed into an anonymous public park.
If the surviving parts of the Aksaray are nonetheless so striking, it is because they render well and perpetuate Tamerlane's "hubris"
Written 30 March 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dirk W
Alexandra Headland, Australia6,464 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2022
The great Timur decided to beautify his home town with the most magnificent palace, after he had already commissioned master works in Samarkand. 50,000 slaves and the best masters of his Empire built this grandiose structure in record time under his personal supervision. You can still sense the grandeur when you walk up to it ; there is a maquette in one of the shops nearby that shows what the original looked like (see photo). Sadly, in their eagerness to preserve this gem, the authorities have razed the whole area around it and turned it into lawn and flower beds . . . complimented with mostly empty shops. This artificial setting does nothing to enhance this monument of great historical importance. Very Sad.
Written 15 November 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

H H
Croydon, UK29 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2022 • Solo
Authentic ruins which have not been rebuilt. Imposing and grand structure. Not much to see, will have seen it all within 10 minutes.
Written 29 September 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marek_ZG
Zielona Gora, Poland1,548 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
Shahrisabz is on the way from Samarkand to Qarshi and certainly worth a visit, even if for half a day. Besides admiring the Palace Complex of Ak-Saray and the statue of Amir Temur, pay a visit to the museum devoted to Amir Temur's life and his achievements. No regrets guaranteed.
Written 4 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ViFi62
Bilthoven, The Netherlands169 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
Certainly worth the trip, even though it may not be THE top must see in the Samarkand region. The shere size of what's left of the nicely decorated gate gives some idea of how truly massive this palace (and Timur's power and ego..) must have been. We were there Oct. 2021 so the restaurants were closed due to covid. Apparently, it was also the main wedding season, as we saw many couples there for photo shoots. The statue is massive as well and gives you a nice photo opp.
Written 29 December 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dzeny
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina604 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
A beautiful gate of the city that testifies to the time of the great Amir Temur and all his expeditions around Asia.
I loved the complex and think is a must see if you are visiting Uzbekistan.
Written 21 October 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Peter S
Hillsborough, UK106 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
The sheer scope and ambition of the entrance gateway to Timur's palace give a fascinating indication of what the entire complex must have looked like. The setting now is restful parkland and in the autumn sunshine it is a place to stroll and indulge in fantasises about the glorious past of this place. That said, there is something a bit incongruous about all the brides wanting to be photographed at the statue of Timur, who by our contemporary standards was not a kindly old gentleman who would have smiled and wished them well.
Written 19 November 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Alex W
Singapore, Singapore1,451 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2019
Many of the key tourist sites in Uzbekistan had been heavily restored, and in ways where you can no longer tell what was original and what was newly put in.

Ak Saray is not one of them. What a refreshing change!

This enormous hulk was once the main palace of Amir Temur -- he was born near here so he considered Kesh (as Shahrisabz was then known) as his hometown. What you see is the real thing left over after 600 years of neglect.

It is still incredibly impressive -- as an example of overweaning grandiosity. I chose, as one of may attached photos, a picture with people in it, and you can see the relative size of what's left of the building compared to people. Above the people in my picture would once have been the huge arch of the portico so the palace would have been taller still.

Quite a fair bit of original tilework remains, giving assurance that the restoration elsewhere (e.g. at Bibi Khanum) is not inaccurate. There is also a glass-covered section that you can look down through to see floor tiles. Those were mostly similar in design to the wall tiles -- which might have made the whole thing quite oppressive design-wise.

The remaining ruin is just of the portico and adjacent towers. What was the rest of the palace like? Alas, no sense of it at all.

While I will give it a thumbs up as an authentic ruin, it is unfortunately not an interesting one. So only three stars out of five.

Now, a bit about Shahrisabz, the town. It is about 2 hours' drive from Samarkand over the crest of a mountain range. I did it as a day trip and the whole-day taxi cost me USD35: Go there, wait for me for about 4 hours, then drive back.

There used to be an old town between Dar-i Tilavelt (also known as Kok Gumbaz) and Ak Saray (a distance of about 1.2 km), but the government razed the whole lot to open up the area, and now it is completely devoid of life. Where once there was an old town, now, it's self-inflicted steppeland.

They built some straight promenades in place of the old houses, but too wide, too long and too grand for the smallish town population, so it'll always be a poor fit and they'll never fill the space with life. The newly-built shops along the promenade are doing poor business (but of course, where's the customer base when they've evicted residents out?), and many look closed.

So another word of advice: bring your own water and lunch. No shops within easy distance for refreshments or food.
Written 27 October 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Raymond W
Townsville, Australia4,565 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2019 • Couples
Ak-Saray is a beautiful palace ruin and one of the few surviving antiquities after Shahrisabz's bizarre and self-immolating decision to bulldoze its old town to create a giant strip of lawn.

Actually, not much remains of this ruin either but even in its broken statue the portal hints at the majesty of the former palace. The turquoise and blue tilework is exceptional. However, this is only a single portal and doesn't take that long to see.

Entrance costs 7,000 som for foreigners.
Written 24 October 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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