Kukeldash Madrasah, Tashkent

Kukeldash Madrasah, Tashkent

The ancient Kukeldash madrasah (Islamic religious school) is the largest of the 23 madrasahs found in Tashkent. It is also one of the oldest in Central Asia, built circa 1570, under the Shaybani Dynasty. Back then, the area was the southern edge of the city, and the madrasah was set upon the remains of the rampart of the southern fortress with a moat (which is now a street).

Historically, the establishment of the school has been attributed to two famous individuals of that period, namely: Qulbobo Kokaldosh, the influential minister of the Sheybanid sultan Barak Khan, and the governor of Tashkent, Darvesh Khan, nicknamed "kukeldash", which means blood brother of the khan. The opinions, as to who exactly founded and built the school, vary.

Over the years, among those who studied here have been the likes of Furqat, an Uzbek author, poet, and political activist, in 1889-1891; and Hamza, another prominent author, composer, playwright, poet, scholar, and political activist, in 1910-1911.

The two-story yellow brick building is of traditional square shape, with a huge gate and inner yard. The actual walls surrounding the inner yard are the living quarters for students – two-story dormitories in the form of cells (“hujras”).

By the 1730s, the structure had fallen into disrepair and was converted to caravanserai, a roadside inn for caravaners. Following that, for a while, it served as a fortress. In 1830-1831, the first floor of the building was demolished, and the bricks were used to build the nearby Beklarbegi madrasah. It was later restored.

Several earthquakes, in 1868 and 1886, destroyed the façade, which was subsequently restored in 1902-1903. The building was reconstructed again, in the 1950s, following yet another devastating earthquake, in 1946, and was one of only few religious sites in Tashkent to survive the most recent, 1966 earthquake.

Throughout the 20th century, the building served as a museum, first of atheism, and later of folk music. In the 1990s it was made a madrasah again. As a result of numerous reconstructions, the appearance of the madrasah has changed. Despite that, it still remains a must-see attraction in Tashkent, known for its landmark gate, 20 meters (66 feet) high, flanked by two towers.

In 2008, on the occasion of the 2200th anniversary of Tashkent, the frontal part of Kukeldash received a fresh “facelift”.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Tashkent. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Kukeldash Madrasah on Map

Sight Name: Kukeldash Madrasah
Sight Location: Tashkent, Uzbekistan (See walking tours in Tashkent)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

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