The Watch

Abdulazizkhan

Bukhara, Uzbekistan

2000 World Monuments Watch

Unlike other traditional Central Asian mosques, the Medrese Abdulazizkhan in the center of Bukhara featured four iwans (alcoves) positioned around a courtyard. Teachers and students studying theology and law lived together and worshiped in two mosques, one for the summer and another in winter. The mosques incorporate a degree of ornamentation not found elsewhere in Central Asia, including elaborate brick mosaics, marble inlays, reliefs of dragons and birds, and striking blue-on-white paintings of trees and flowers. With the death of Bukhara's king, Abdulazizkhan, work stopped on the complex, which accounts for the absence of detail on one facade. Local master craftsmen first restored the Medrese in 1930, but little has been done since. The complex is now used as a space for selling local crafts. Although Abdulazizkhan figures into UNESCO's World Heritage designation for the city, less-than-adequate repairs and restorations have been made to the structure. Foundations are cracking, many archways, walls, and domes are crumbling, and a rising ground level hinders proper drainage. Highly experienced conservators are needed to oversee a thorough restoration. Bukhara is on the World Heritage List.

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