Shakhrisabz (Shahrisabz in Uzbek), is a city approximately 85 kilometres south of Samarkand, at an altitude of 622 metres. Historically known as Kesh or Kish (meaning “heart-pleasing”), it is one of Central Asia’s most ancient cities, founded more than 2,700 years ago when it was part of the Achaemenid (First Persian) Empire or Persia from the 6th to 4th centuries BCE. It was the birthplace of Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamerlane): he was born here in 1336.
The gate towers of Aq Saray, Timur's Summer Palace, the “White Palace”, started in 1380 and planned as the most grandiose of all Timur's constructions, were 65 metres high; today only parts of it survive, with blue, white and gold mosaics. Floor mosaics of his palace are being restored. The Kok Gumbaz Mosque, built in 1434-1435 with its blue dome was built in 1437 by Timur’s grandson Ulugh Beg in honour of his father Shah Rukh. There are various mausoleums and the crypt of Timur, in the Khazrati-Imam complex; it was built 1380-1404 and intended for Timur, but, when Timur died in 1405 on campaign to China, the passes to Shakhrisabz were snowed in, so he was buried in the Gur-e-Amir mausoleum in Samarkand instead.
Timur, during his reign, shifted his activities from his home town to Samarkand; Shakhrisabz today is a quiet city of a little over 100,000 people, but Timur’s memory is kept alive: there is a large statue of “Amir Temur” near the remains of the gate towers of his palace.