The Palace Complex of Ak-Saray

The Palace Complex of Ak-Saray

The Palace Complex of Ak-Saray
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Historic SitesPoints of Interest & LandmarksArchitectural Buildings
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Duration: 1-2 hours
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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles165 reviews
Excellent
57
Very good
64
Average
36
Poor
5
Terrible
3

ViFi62
Bilthoven, The Netherlands160 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
Certainly worth the trip, even though it may not be THE top must see in the Samarkand region. The shere size of what's left of the nicely decorated gate gives some idea of how truly massive this palace (and Timur's power and ego..) must have been. We were there Oct. 2021 so the restaurants were closed due to covid. Apparently, it was also the main wedding season, as we saw many couples there for photo shoots. The statue is massive as well and gives you a nice photo opp.
Written December 29, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mamed Askerov
Tashkent, Uzbekistan584 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2015 • Friends
This is what used to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Shkahrisabz, the real hometown of Amir Temur, aka Tamerlane. Couple years back, this square had more trees, which offered shade. Also, before you could climb to the top of the palace and get to observe the view of this what it used to be an ancient city. Currently. with trees cut down (and the new ones being either young or not-ready-for-the-heat type) this palace and its surroundings look like an abandoned place under the sizzling heat. What an unfortunate 'renovation.'
Written October 19, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

GoranWembley
United Kingdom4,058 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2015 • Solo
The monuments in Shakhrisabz are ruins, but it's nice to walk around. I guess this is what Samarkand looked like before the restauration.

Shakhrisabz on a day trip from Samarkand on public transport:
The details on where to catch the shared taxi for Shakhrisabz from Samarkand in the guidebook are correct, but the price stated in the book at USD9 (black market rate) for the ride is too high. It's more like USD4-5 and the taxi takes you all the way to Kok-Gumbaz Mosque; I insisted on this.

Coming back is slightly trickier as I had to walk 10 mins towards the main road by turning right after the main ruins. Here I took marshrutka to Kitab for USD0.20 then I had my lunch at the market and only after this I went to catch the taxi for Samarkand. The taxi stand is 300m from the junction where the bazaar is, people were helpful by pointing out to the right direction. The shared taxi fare from Kitab to Samarkand was USD3.40, and of course, negotiations needed.
Written July 3, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Alex W
Singapore, Singapore1,426 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2019
Many of the key tourist sites in Uzbekistan had been heavily restored, and in ways where you can no longer tell what was original and what was newly put in.

Ak Saray is not one of them. What a refreshing change!

This enormous hulk was once the main palace of Amir Temur -- he was born near here so he considered Kesh (as Shahrisabz was then known) as his hometown. What you see is the real thing left over after 600 years of neglect.

It is still incredibly impressive -- as an example of overweaning grandiosity. I chose, as one of may attached photos, a picture with people in it, and you can see the relative size of what's left of the building compared to people. Above the people in my picture would once have been the huge arch of the portico so the palace would have been taller still.

Quite a fair bit of original tilework remains, giving assurance that the restoration elsewhere (e.g. at Bibi Khanum) is not inaccurate. There is also a glass-covered section that you can look down through to see floor tiles. Those were mostly similar in design to the wall tiles -- which might have made the whole thing quite oppressive design-wise.

The remaining ruin is just of the portico and adjacent towers. What was the rest of the palace like? Alas, no sense of it at all.

While I will give it a thumbs up as an authentic ruin, it is unfortunately not an interesting one. So only three stars out of five.

Now, a bit about Shahrisabz, the town. It is about 2 hours' drive from Samarkand over the crest of a mountain range. I did it as a day trip and the whole-day taxi cost me USD35: Go there, wait for me for about 4 hours, then drive back.

There used to be an old town between Dar-i Tilavelt (also known as Kok Gumbaz) and Ak Saray (a distance of about 1.2 km), but the government razed the whole lot to open up the area, and now it is completely devoid of life. Where once there was an old town, now, it's self-inflicted steppeland.

They built some straight promenades in place of the old houses, but too wide, too long and too grand for the smallish town population, so it'll always be a poor fit and they'll never fill the space with life. The newly-built shops along the promenade are doing poor business (but of course, where's the customer base when they've evicted residents out?), and many look closed.

So another word of advice: bring your own water and lunch. No shops within easy distance for refreshments or food.
Written October 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Peter S
Hillsborough, UK105 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
The sheer scope and ambition of the entrance gateway to Timur's palace give a fascinating indication of what the entire complex must have looked like. The setting now is restful parkland and in the autumn sunshine it is a place to stroll and indulge in fantasises about the glorious past of this place. That said, there is something a bit incongruous about all the brides wanting to be photographed at the statue of Timur, who by our contemporary standards was not a kindly old gentleman who would have smiled and wished them well.
Written November 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

midway42
Georgia3,375 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2015 • Solo
Located just a 45-minute drive from Samarkand, Shakhrisabz and its associated historical sites are usually visited as a day-trip. The ride winds through an impressive mountain road dotted with rural homes, restaurants, and small farms; almost everyone traveling from Samarkand will come here to see the home of Tamerlane and environs.

The White Palace was the most ambitious building project of Timur’s reign, and what’s left of it can be visited after paying a reasonable admission fee of 5,000 som. The crumbling gateway still stands and is impressive just based on sheer size; sellers next to the entrance have artistic representations for sale that complete the imaginative restoration. There is an old city wall visible from the pishtak (tower) that is in the process of being restored but otherwise pickings are sparse here. Evidently you can ascend to the upper floors of the gate but that option was closed at the time of my visit. After maybe 30 minutes touring the grounds we visited the associated necropoilis (not reviewed) and left.

This was a bit of a disappointing visit as a large part of the area is under renovation and there just isn’t much to see; the remaining gateway is impressive enough but not enough to validate the time and effort to get here. Even with the Timur museum opening and the landscaping being finished my guess is it still would be a bit of a mediocre visit. Oddly enough the journey here was more interesting than the actual destination as the heightened security at the checkpoints (after the Paris attacks) and unique mountain environment both exposed me to a side of the country I hadn’t seen before. Any readers who are passionate about their history may find a visit here obligatory; most others would find it underwhelming.
Written January 2, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Gad N
Tel Aviv, Israel171 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2018 • Couples
The gate, which is the only outstanding remnant, is part of a large complex that includes two other ensembles: the tomb intended for Amir Timur and the mausoleum for his sons, and the Kok Gumbaz mosque. The complex consists of a large park and a 1.5 kilometer walkway that connects the sites. Overall, the site is a little disappointing - too touristy and suitable mainly for wedding-bride/groom photos that are held there in dozens.
As noted, the only outstanding remains of the palace is the gate that now rises to a height of 40 meters and contains the survived side pylons. One can imagine how impressive and monumental the gate was when it rose to its full size (estimated at about 70 meters - the height of a 25-story building). A change for the better is that the enterance portal has not been over-restored like the sites in Samarkand.
Right behind the gate to the south, stands a new statue of Timur, which is one of the three monumental Timur statues (the other two are in Samarkand and in Tashkent) stands
Written October 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael M
Germany35 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2017 • Friends
The casle-palace was build by order of Timur between 1380 and 1405 as a tibute to his glory. It was a marvel at its time but now there are only two main Towers left which still holds us in awe. The Spanish ambassador Ruz Gonzalez de Clavijo visited Timor on Behalf of the Spanish Emperor Henry III and gives a vivid testimony in his travel report, this is how we still have knowledge of parts of the 'white palace' that have vanished by the aeons.
Written October 3, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JP1946
London, UK156 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2016 • Solo
Anyone who has visited the Alhambra Palace in Granada will recognise the setting immediately - some 90-odd km from Samarkand lies Shakhrisabz - the location of the "forgotten", but once vast, palace built by Tamerlane the Great as his new capital. The Ak-Saray (or White Palace) was huge, but all that remains of this vast complex today - which has not weathered the changing times well - is the monumental gateway. Of that, only some 50m remain of the towers on either side, but when whole, the gateway rose to over 73m tall. The fiercely independent young Uzbek nation of today is carefully restoring the gateway to give the public again a sense of how it would have looked in all its former glory. The nation's most famous son - Amir Timur - stands tall overlooking the new park behind the gateway, and although not ostensibly a "theme-park" in the true meaning of the word, that is in effect what is being constructed here, with shops, restaurants, rides and cafes. If the shops retain the quality of their goods and artisan appeal, all will be well, and it will have been worth the hour-long drive through the countryside to get here (although it was interesting to see the constantly changing scenery and mountains too), but the historical authenticity of the place could so easily be lost to crass commercialism. It is a fine line - and I do so hope the Uzbek people do not cross it, but choose wisely and well..
Written May 16, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Anthony P
New York City, NY5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2015 • Couples
Even though it wasn't recommended to visit Shakrisabz because of ongoing construction in the city, we're glad we went anyway! The Ak Saray looked like it could use some work itself, but after some thought I realized this gave it a more authentic look, if that's possible. Perhaps there's some validity when an ancient wonder like this shows its age a little! Our guide from Five Stans Adventure, spoke fluent Uzbek and Russian which was a huge benefit for us as we wandered around. You can still get great photos while you're here until the construction is completed.
Written April 17, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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The Palace Complex of Ak-Saray - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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