Location: Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Architect: Construction ordered by Ulugh Beg
Date Built: 1417-1421
What Society Built it: Timurid Empire
An elite Islamic school (madrasah), the Ulugh Beg Madrasah was the first madrasah built in the Registan complex, and the only 15th century building to survive. It was commissioned by the then-governor of Samarkand, Ulugh Beg, heir to the Timurid throne and a great patron of the arts, sciences, and education. Ulugh Beg himself was a prominent scholar and scientist, often teaching at the school while possessing accurate star maps of his own creation. The Madrasah itself reflects the piety of Ulugh Beg as a Muslim: it fully respects the Islamic ban on living beings unlike the future Sher-Dor Madrasah, instead being decorated with ornate tessellations and calligraphy. Together, the tessellations form a constellation pattern, indicative of its use as an observatory. In addition to the madrasah in Samarkand, Ulugh Beg is the namesake of two more, one in Bukhara and another in G'ijduvon.
Registan is an icon of Samarkand; the heart of the ancient city adorned by three striking madrasahs. These three , Sher-Dor, Ulugh Beg, and Tilya-Kori, date from as far back as the early 15th century when Timurid conquerors were masters of the city. The name Registan literally means "sandy place"; a site initially reserved for public executions where bloodied sand could be changed easily. It also served as a public square, where royal proclamations would be read to the public. During the Timurid Renaissance, a revival of arts and sciences in the Muslim world, the first madrasah was built by the Timurid Mirza Ulugh Beg. Centuries later, the Khanate of Bukhara built the other two, one in the form of Ulugh Beg's and the other in a completely different form. These madrasahs were the most prestigious schools in the city, educating leading scholars of the time.
The Ulugh Beg Madrasah predates the other two madrasahs by almost two centuries; it is the only surviving building of the original Registan
Its namesake, Ulugh Beg, was a brilliant mathematician, scientist, and scholar; however he was not a skilled administrator. He would be killed two years into his reign as Mirza of the Timurid Empire, and much of his work, including the famous Ulugh Beg Observatory, would be destroyed.
The architect is unknown, though all of Ulugh Beg's namesake madrasahs are thought to have been built by the same person. The architect of the Bukhara madrasah is known, Ismail b. Tahir b. Mahmad Isfahani.
Length: 588 blocks
Width: 439 blocks
Height: 231 blocks
Scale (height): 7:1
Total blocks: 3663624
Build time: 31.2 hours