Samarkand is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, located on the Asian Silk Road between China and the west. In 1370, Samarkand became the capital of the empire of Timur the Lame, or Tamerlane. His empire extended from India to Turkey. The city came under Russian rule in 1868.
The Shah-i-Zinda area includes mausoleums and other ritual buildings of 9-14th and 19th centuries. The name Shah-i-Zinda - "The living king" is connected with the legend that Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of the prophet Muhammad was buried there.
The Registan was the center of medieval Samarkand, consisting of three madrassas surrounding a large square. A madrasah is a medieval Moslem clergy academy.
Gur-e Amir is the mausoleum of the Asian conqueror Tamerlane (also known as Timur the Lame). The complex contains the tombs of Tamerlane, his sons Shah Rukh and Miran Shah and grandson Ulugh Beg and Muhammad Sultan. Also honoured with a place in the tomb is Timur's teacher Mir Said Baraka. However, when Timur died in 1405 on campaign on his way to conquer China, the passes to Shahrisabz were snowed in, so he was buried here instead.
We often observed in the Soviet Union very large, very empty, public spaces. To us, it gives a feeling of lonliness and emptiness when their parades and events weren't taking place. I guess it's to give a sense of awe...
Another ubiquitous element in the Soviet environment was huge depictions of mostly Lenin but also Breznev (the current General Secretary of the Communist Party), sometimes Marx and Engels, and occasionally local dignitaries. Statues were similarly used.