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Derived from Persian and meaning ‘ensemble near the pool’, Bukhara’s characterful Lyabi-Hauz is a plaza constructed in 1620 around a large pool with fabulous buildings on three sides, including two madrasahs (Islamic schools) and a khanaka (a Sufi lodging house).
The Madrasah of Nadir Divan-begi, which forms part of the complex, is a 17th century building decorated with exquisite mosaics of living creatures (unusual in Islamic art) including birds and deer. Bukhara was originally full of pools like this, but during the Soviet occupation many were filled in to reduce the spread of disease.
Even today the custom continues for local people to gather here at Lyabi-Hauz to chat, play dominoes and drink pots of tea at the poolside chaikhana.
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