The ancient city of Shakhrisabs, which means “Green City”, is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Memorials due to its abundance of great ancient architecture dating back to the 14th century. Although numerous magnificent buildings scatter around the area, the city is laden with orchards and vineyards. Architectural landmarks of Shakhrisabs are at least 500 years old with the famous Ak-Saray Palace and the Jahongir mausoleum built in the late 14th-early 15thcenturies.
Shakhrisabz, called "Kesh" in the Middle Ages - also known as ancient "Nautaca" - carried the nicknames "Dilkesh" ("Kesh" means heart-pleasing) and "Qubbat al-eleem va al-adab" (the dome of science and education) is one of the most ancient cities in Central Asia. In certain periods through its long history, it has appeared as the centre of some of the most important events in world history - sometimes glorious, sometimes tragic. During Bactrian times, the tsar-impostor, Bess (Artarkserks), was captured in one of the settlements of Nautaca and finally executed by Ptolemey, one of the commanders of Alexander the Great. This meant the end of the great Ahemenid Empire.
Shakhrisabz is also famed by being the birthplace of the great Turkic conqueror, Tamerlane. Wherever destiny took him, Shakhrisabz remained his native city, the place where he spent his childhood and youth, where his personality was formed, the dwelling-place where his father, Taraguy, mentor Shams ad-Din Qulal, and his older children Jahangir and Omar Sheikh were buried. Shakhrisabz became the second capital of the great country he ruled. He put much effort into turning the city into “the throne’s pedestal” (government residence).
The most obvious evidence of this is the vast palace, Ak-Saray, which was incomparable with its contemporaries. Much was written about this palace, especially by Rue Gonzales de Klavikho, the Spanish Ambassador to Amir Temur, who was an important figure in the history of Shakhrisabz. Unfortunately, time had no mercy on this marvellous building and by the end of the 16thcentury this grandiose monument had been destroyed. Parts of the portal that remained are evidence of the scale of its construction; Ak-Saray is still unsurpassed in its intricate mosaic and other decorations that showed off the arts of traditional craftsmen. Above the portal of the Ak-Saray are huge letters saying: "If you challenge our power - look at our buildings!"
When we talk about Shakhrisabz we always imagine an evergreen city, with clear skies surrounded by the high Gyssar mountain range. Since time immemorial this city has been famous for its skilled crafts-people whose traditions are still being practiced in the wide-scale restoration and construction work that is being carried out even today. Today, Shakhrisabz is still maintaining its traditional, historical appearance, and has moved on to the next phase of its evolution.
Shakhrisabz has left a significant mark on world civilization. With its history and origin, it is a city worth visiting to bask in all its glory.