The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Vii. The City of Samarkand

Samarkand population

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Now that I have related those things which befell the ambassadors in this city of Samarkand, I will give an account of that city and its territory, and of the things which the lord has done to ennoble it. The city of Samarkand is situated in a plain, and surrounded by an earthen wall. It is a little larger than the city of Seville, but, outside the city, there are a great number of houses, joined together in many parts, so as to form suburbs. The city is surrounded on all sides by many gardens and vineyards, which extend in some directions a league and a half, in others two leagues, the city being in the middle. In these houses and gardens there is a large population, and there are people selling bread, meat, and many other things; so that the suburbs are much more thickly inhabited than the city within the walls. Amongst these gardens, which are outside the city, there are great and noble houses, and here the lord has several palaces {On the south of Samarkand is the garden of paradise, and the plane tree garden. On the east is the heart delighting garden, from which there is a public avenue planted with trees, all the way to the torquoise gate. In the garden of Dervish Khan there are elms, poplars, and cypresses. Another garden is named the miniature of the world.- Babur's Memoirs}. The nobles of the city have their houses amongst these gardens, and they are so extensive that, when a man approaches the city, he sees nothing but a mass of very high trees. Many streams of water flow through the city, and through these gardens, and among these gardens there are many cotton plantations, and melon grounds, and the melons of this land are good and plentiful; and at Christmas time there is a wonderful quantity of melons and grapes. Every day so many camels come in, laden with melons, that it is a wonder how the people can eat them all. They preserve them from year to year in the villages, in the same way as figs, taking off their skins, cutting them in large slices, and then drying them in the sun. Outside the city there are great plains, which are covered with populous villages, peopled by the captives which the lord caused to be taken from the countries which he conquered. The land is very plentiful in all things, as well bread as wine, fruit, meat, and birds; and the sheep are very large, and have long tails, some weighing twenty pounds, and they are as much as a man can hold in his hand. These sheep are so abundant in the market that, even when the lord was there with all his host, a pair was worth only a ducat. Other things are so plentiful, that for a meri, which is half a rial, they sell a fanega {A bushel} and a half of barley, and the quantity of bread and rice is infinite.