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7.- Samarkand, Bibi Khanum Mosque

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One can sense the old grandeur of the city, catching the sudden view of the Bibi Khanum Mosque (15th century), the largest structure of its time in the world, standing beside a noisy and crowded oriental market full of colorful fruits, vegetables and fragrant spices grown on Uzbek land.

The mosque was Tamerlane's idea and was to be grander than anything he had seen on his campaigns. It was built between 1399 and 1404 by 600 slaves and 100 elephants brought from India, and 200 architects, artists, master craftsmen and masons from the rest of the empire. An observer wrote of the finished mosque: "Its dome would have been unique had it not been for the heavens, and unique would have been its portal had it not been for the Milky Way".

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