The Watch

Madrasa Rachid

Bukhara, Uzbekistan

2008 World Monuments Watch

The ancient Silk Road center of Bukhara is the best-preserved medieval city in Central Asia. In the heart of this is the Rashid madrasa, an Islamic school built sometime between the fifteenth and the eighteenth centuries. The madrasa was abandoned in 2001, after having been used for various purposes by Soviet and Uzbek administrations. Within the complex is a small square mosque with a dome. The mud and fired-brick structure has been severely compromised due to lack of maintenance, as well as more recent conservation work, as many repairs were made with cement. Water running under the floor since at least the 1930s has caused soil under the main façade to compress, resulting in buckling of structural elements. Terraces and upper walls are covered by vegetation, which pushes through brick joints. Domes and some walls are cracked, and the mihrab of the small mosque was destroyed to create a passageway. The madrasa has also lost windows and doors, accelerating its decay. It is hoped that listing will help draw attention to this iconic symbol of everyday life in medieval Central Asia, one of the few examples that survived the twentieth century. Last update: 2008

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