It was built around 1807 by the order of the wealthy Turkmen merchant Khalif Niyazkul. It is relatively small, with a capacity of 15-20 people. Today, apart from the imposing gate, only a few student rooms (‘hujras’) have been preserved.
Architecturally, the building is unique in Central Asia and worth a visit. The design of the building is reminiscent of the Charminar Gate in Hyderabad, India. Khalif Niyazkul was a merchant who travelled to different regions with his goods and is supposed to have been in touch with Indian architecture, which impressed him so much that he decided to build something similar in Bukhara. However, the design of the building has a local character.
The main part of the building is a rectangular, two-storey structure with a dome. At each corner of the building is a 17-metre high tower, which gives the building its name: Chor Minor means “four minarets”. However, this is a bit misleading, as the minarets have only a decorative function and were not used for the call to prayer. Some authors believe that the building itself (if we exclude the towers) resembles a Samanid mausoleum. However, the mausoleum could not serve as a model, as it was excavated only decades after the construction of the Chor Minor.
At the tops of the minarets are domes decorated with light blue glazed tiles. A distinctive design was chosen for each dome. Legend says that the rich merchant had four daughters and he dedicated each of them a tower. For this reason, the domes are decorated differently.
The two front towers are no longer in their original status but have been destroyed by time. One was rebuilt during the Soviet era, while the other collapsed in 1995 and was restored in 1997, with financial assistance from UNESCO. For a long time storks nested on the four minarets, so today there is a mock-up of a stork’s nest on one of the towers as memory.
For an extra fee, you can climb to the roof of the building via an internal staircase, which allows you to take interesting photos of the towers and their domes. But the view from the roof overlooks only the houses surrounding the madrasah.
Next to the madrasah is a water reservoir (khauz), which originally served to provide water for the population.