Looking up in Uzbekistan.

Remember shoegazing, that 1980s genre? Well, had any of those musicians been in Ulug Beg Madrasa, in Samarkand, they’d have missed this.

Sometimes it’s useful to be walking with one eye to the heavens and one to the floor. Especially in places such as Bibi Khanum mosque, where toddlers chase each other at ground level and masonry has a habit to fall from above. Tamerlane wanted it great and done quickly: he might’ve been the destroyer of Delhi and Baghdad, but even him ended up ripped off by the contractors.

Move over to the opposite side of town. A leafy boulevard, with not much but for a decent restaurant and a club pumping hardbass music behind blackened-out windows at 2PM. Enter the Orthodox church on the corner, stand in front of the altar and look up. You can almost hear the valzer. Da-da-da-da-daaa-daa…

Not far from there – it’s just a couple of wide alleys, odd statues and suicidal pedestrian crossings – it’s another place of worship, at least judging by the elderly ladies praying. But this is no church or mosque. It’s Tamerlane’s mausoleum. The tomb of the destroyer of so many Muslim cities is now a place of pilgrimage by devout Muslims. Sod orthodoxy. 

Again, outskirts. Bukhara, this time. Centuries before Islam, the prophet Job happened to pass by and found Bukhara in the midst of a terrible drought. He saw the suffering and decided to do something about it. He struck his walking stick in the ground and – right there! – a sweet water spring appeared, as if by magic. Today the spring – Chasma Ayub – is still there.
The Ark, despite its architectonic quirks, gave me a distinct impression of oppression, stale air, meaningless gestures, threat. Still, looking up at the ceiling of its in-built mosque one wouldn’t feel anything but this.

There’s yet another mosque next to the Ark, past the rather stinky (I guess that makes it authentic) Bolo reservoir, or hauz. Bolo Hauz mosque. Warm tones on the outside – wood, ochre, orange, red velvets – and on the inside… this. Picture me surprised, but in a nice way.

There’s a road, in Naples, called strada dell’anticaglia. It could be translated as “road of old tat” and its name is due to the amount of Roman architecture that sprouts out of everywhere in that street, evidently in the way of the exasperated locals who just wanted to build their homes without digging up yet another amphora. If these ceilings have given you the same feeling – old cupolas, old domes, Tamerlane, old old old – then I’ve got a partying gift. Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent. Say hello to God knows how many meters of tangible Socialism.

Until next time… ta-dah.

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15 Responses to Looking up in Uzbekistan.

  1. richandalice says:

    I really like the “looking up : theme of this post… creative and original.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Thanks Rich! Glad you liked it… I borrowed a GoPro with the idea of doing something like this, following a lucky photo I did in Iran, and it seemed to be working!

      Like

  2. This is one mighty compilation, thanks for all the stargazing, Fabrizio! Just today I fell in love again in one of your wondertowns that not many know about, Massa Marittima. It’s similar to Siena, without people attached. If you gaze up there, you meet the gargoyles’ gaze. I should write a post, and instead I litter under your totally different skies. Ah well.

    This post is a joy to behold.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lexklein says:

    I’m a neck craner from way back, so I appreciate all these up-shots! The marvel of ceilings never fails to amaze me; in fact, I spent more time gazing up in the Vatican, the Uffizi, and other museums in Italy than I did looking at the actual collections of stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • awtytravels says:

      Well, the Vatican museums are the undisputed masters of fancy stuff over the ceilings. I must admit I don’t really remember the Uffizi’s, if not for some vague images of ornate woodwork, but that was it… Did I miss something?

      Liked by 1 person

      • lexklein says:

        I think so, but I’m a ceiling buff, so I was always looking up and seeing birds painted into blue skies and trellises, or tiny amber mosaics, or yes, those wood beams. Religious and Renaissance art in general are not terribly interesting to me, so in places where the art is not a draw for me, I just marvel at the architecture and design of the repositories themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

      • awtytravels says:

        Yeah, those Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus do get tiring after you’ve seen six of them in a row!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. J.D. Riso says:

    They seem to all be different interpretations of heaven. So sublime and unique.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bama says:

    My head seems to be always attracted by what’s up there whenever I enter any building with lofty ceiling, and unsurprisingly those intricately-decorated ceilings of the ancient mosques in Uzbekistan are among the things I want to see the most when I (eventually) go one day. This post has been a very nice visual treat, Fabrizio!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave Ply says:

    “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ― Oscar Wilde

    Liked by 1 person

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