The morning had been spent meandering through central-Samarkand visiting the Bibi-Xonum Mosque and the Mausoleum across the street with the eventual goal of visiting the Shah-i-Zinda Ensemble, or Avenue of Mausoleums, before lunchtime and the need to escape the mid-day heat. We were making good time, so decided to wander up a hill and through the Muslim Cemetery that is the the easy of the Ensemble off Toshkent yo’li.
We were somewhat surprised to find a back entrance to Shah-i-Zinda and spent the next hour or so wandering in and out of the various Mausoleums and appreciating the gorgeous glazed terracotta tile work covering each Mausoleum both inside and out.
Upon reaching the entrance to Shah-i-Zinda we spotted a ticket office. A quick sideways glance during our exit showed a ticket price of 8,000 som (~$1.50) that we had managed not to pay by entering through the back. A small savings – but when going in most buildings costs between $1.00 and $3.00, expenses can really add up over the course of a day and even more so over the course of a two month trip.
I wasn’t sure whether it was just a fluke that there was no one at the back collecting money for tickets or not, but a few days later I was walking around with another friend and we ended up near Shah-i-Zinda again. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to test the back entrance again, and it was the same experience as a few days previous. No one was there collecting money for tickets and upon exiting at the front of Shah-i-Zinda we had no issues.
Shah-i-Zinda is a must-visit in Samarkand, and the ticket price of 8,000 som (at time of writing about $1.50) is far from high, but entering through the back entrance can save you the cost of the ticket as well as give you the opportunity to wander through the Muslim Cemetery, worth visiting in its own right.