The Registan, Samarkand
The Registan is undoubtedly one of the world's wonders - "the noblest square in the world" according to Lord Curzon in the 19th century. Its unique combination of massive but elegant mosaic facades, turquoise domes and patterned minarets creates a perfect harmony and balance. The three great buildings on the square - the madrassahs (Islamic colleges) of Ulug Beg, Sher Dor and Tilla-Kari - are amongst the oldest preserved madrassahs in the world. The mosque inside the Tilla-Kari is a particular highlight with its intricately decorated gold-leaf ceiling (below left), whilst the Sher Dor Madrassa is famed for its painted lions (below right), unusual in an Islamic religious building as the depiction of people and live animals was prohibited.