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View of Registan square in Samarkand - the main square with Ulugbek madrasah, Sherdor madrasah and Tillya-Kari madrasah at sunset
Photo by Kadagan /

Sher Dor Madrassah

Completed second of the three madrassahs, this building displays controversial artwork on its façade and was used to further develop the “enlightened mind.”

Located opposite the Ulugh Bek Madrassah, this building was completed in 1636 after taking 17 years to build. With its name meaning ‘lion’ in the Persian language, the entrance is embellished with two lions chasing deer, and with Mongolian-faced, Zoroastrian-inspired suns rising from their backs to symbolise the enlightened mind. This was controversial to the Islamic traditions of the time since the depiction of living animals or humans was not typically accepted.

The Sher Dor Madrassah was built by the Shaybanid ruler Emir Yalangtush and resembled in structure and layout to the Ulugh Bek Madrassah that was built 200 years earlier. The site was originally a smaller building used as a Sufi lodge, but was torn down for the construction of the present madrassah. Differing from the Ulugh Bek Madrassah this building lacks a mosque, and holds two fluted domes over the corner classrooms.