Exploring Tourism in Uzbekistan
icon Worldwideicon
Places to Visit Details

St. Daniel's Tomb

Samarkand, Uzbekistan

It is believed that the spirit of the buried saint patronizes Samarkand and protects it, brings wealth and prosperity. People of Samarkand and beyond – many people who come here believe that a prayer service at the mausoleum helps them cope with the disease, difficulties and brings luck.

A special homage is paid to the spring, which beats at the foot of the mausoleum. A flock of mottled sheep nibble grass along its banks. Locals say water flowing past the tomb has healing powers.

The building itself is twelve meters long and six meters wide and is devoid of any external or internal decorations. In its present form it has existed since the nineteenth century and was last restored in the twentieth century.

The shrine’s exterior is grey with streaks of muted red. Five small domes run the length of the roof. Before entering Daniel’s mausoleum, you are kindly asked to take off our shoes as this is a holy place.

The interior is very simple and the few arches and cupolas on the ceiling provide the Oriental beauty. The sarcophagus is made of white marble. It stands about five feet high, five feet wide and twenty-four feet long. The tomb itself is ten meters long and occupies nearly the whole of the interior. It’s covered in green prayer rugs embroidered with gold thread. At the head of the tomb there are several fragments of an imbedded tomb stone and these fragments have incomplete Arabic and Persian inscriptions.

Uzbekistan became an independent state in 1991. Since that time some additional effort has been made to renovate this historical site including the new road leading to the brick building, as pregnant women from Samarkand and women wishing to conceive make a pilgrimage to the tomb and to the spring.

Legend of a Growing Tomb

Meanwhile, historians, researchers and tourists know that, there are several Mausoleum of St. Daniel’s in the world, which claim to be official (in Israel, Iran, Iraq, Turkey), they ask the question – so who is buried in the mausoleum in Samarkand?

The legends say that relics of Saint Daniel brought to Samarkand by Amir Timur. At the turn of XIV and XV centuries, the Great Timur undertook a military campaign in Asia Minor, in which was besieged one of the smallest cities in Iran – Susa. The city, however, did not give up. It was incredible – the professional army of the great commander tried, but could not break the resistance of a small town. Analyzing the situation, Timur turned to local residents and the spiritual masters and was told that the city is guarded by the spirit of Daniel himself, the Old Testament Prophet.

Timur announced the end of the siege, continues the legend, and appealed to citizens to take him to the burial of the Saint. He prayed there and next morning sent to Samarkand caravan with the ashes from the grave of the Saint.

According to legend, the Prophet, after his burial, continued growing inside the tomb, and the tomb, therefore, continued to grow with him, hence the unusual length of the tomb. In 1912 the Russian administration of occupied Turkestan ordered the local Muslim authorities ‘to stop’ the growth of the deceased. Since that time the ‘growth’ has stopped.

These and other versions are revised by historians and archaeologists, and perhaps soon, the world knows the real story of the mysterious mausoleum. But while the Samarkand keeps its secrets, at the Mausoleum sounds Muslim, Jewish and Christian prayers of the pilgrims, who came to Samarkand to fill their hearts and souls with the light of holiness.

Check out more Places to Visit