The Registan and its three madrasahs. From left to right: Ulugh Beg Madrasah, Tilya-Kori Madrasah and Sher-Dor Madrasah.
Th Ulug Beg Madrasah is the biggest of the three that Ulug Beg built during his reign-the other two were in Bukhara (1417) and Ghijduvan (1433). It likewise differed in that its curriculum, in addition to
mandatory theological disciplines, offered secular subjects, such as mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, and literature. Among the eminent
teachers invited to lecture there were the astronomer
Kazy-zadeh-Rumi, called "The Plato of His Age" and the mathematician Ali-Kushchi. Ulug Beg himself lectured there. The madrasah's designation was reflected in its layout. The tall doomed corner rooms
served as the darskhanas or classrooms, while the court was enclosed by two stories of hudjira living cells-deeply-recessed lancet-arched niches. The designation of the vast oblong room on the western side is still open to question. The inner quadrangle seems comfortably scaled down to human proportions, despite its large dimensions. Its
four axially disposed, deeply recessed, colonnaded aivan porches served as cool "lounges" The side walls had additional entrances framed by portals. The refined decorative scheme consisted, for the
most part, of contrasting combinations of soothingly-toned baked brick or marble and vibrant, glittered glazed tiles, embellished with
which were not only the outside walls and minarets, but also, surprisingly enough, such a crucial structural element as the portal. The tympani above the entrance arch are filled with the sky-blue tracery of the ghirikh (knot -motif) design with mosaic insets. The ornamental painted designs of the interior decoration, fragments of
which have survived to this day.