In the very heart of Samarkand, forming a single architectural complex with the Ulugbek madrasah and Sherdor madrasah, there stands the Tillya-Kori Madrasah, the latest structure on the Registan Square. Construction of the golden madrasah, this is the exact translation of Tillya-Kori from the Uzbek language, was started by order of Samarkand ruler Yalangtushbiy Bakhadur: according to his intention madrasah was to complement and complete the architectural look of Registan. The place for construction they chose a northern part of the square, where in the XV century, there located the Mirzoi caravanserai, which survived by 1646 only in wall and foundation fragments. The construction of the Tillya-Kori Madrasah lasted 15 years and was completed by 1660. Yalangtushbiy Bakhadur, who already died by that time, never got to see the embodiment of his cherished dream.
The Tillya-Kori Madrasah was a remarkable building with a number of special features. One of them is a façade richly decorated with gilding, which gave the madrasah its euharmonic name. Furthermore, the madrasah territory includes a Cathedral Juma Mosque. The surfaces of its walls and vault as well as the madrasah façade were decorated with gold, applied by “kundale” technique (polychromatic colourwash painting with gilt ornamental ectypes). The mosque at the Tillya-Kori Madrasah was built specially for the students who were undergoing training there: they could pray every day, in the comfort of the institution.
The Tillya-Kori look was inspired by Bukhara architectural tradition, and that is why it does not follow the proportions of the Ulugbek and Sherdor madrasahs. The madrasah building is one-storey, alike from its two famous two-storey “neighbors”. In spite of this, the Tillya-Kori Madrasah does not look low on their background, due to the good solution of the compositional task. The wings of the madrasah main façade are elongated and rounded, thanks to which it ideally fulfills the role of the ensemble central element, and also shades the beauty of the two more monumental structures on the Registan square. It is an interesting fact, that the Tillya-Kori Madrasah became the last major architectural monument of Samarkand, featuring such various and rich color facing.
The major earthquake which took place early in the XIX century destroyed the Madrasah’s entrance portal which had already leaned by that time. Unfortunately refurbishment work carried out by the instruction of Emir Khaydar did not help to save the tilework: the portal was built anew without it, no gilding was preserved either. Soon almost the whole façade cladding was lost and in the 20-s of the XX century a number of efforts was made to preserve the extant fragments of the décor. After several years of restoration work the Tillya-Kori Madrasah was finally renovated and in year 2001 this remarkable architectural monument was enrolled to the UNESCO world heritage list.