The Samarkand Church of St. John the Baptist can be considered one of the most unexpected landmarks of the ancient city. The vast majority of tourists come here to admire the amazing Eastern monuments, but I primarily set out to see the Catholic building from the early 20th century. This is because, in every city I visit, I always want to glimpse pseudo-Gothic architectural monuments
How to Get There
Exploring the church can be conveniently combined with a visit to the famous Gur-e Amir mausoleum; these sites are located 20 minutes' walk from each other. The church's address is 86 Makhmud Koshgari Street. Online maps indicate that you can visit in the evenings from Tuesday to Saturday and throughout the day on Sundays.
During the stroll from the church to Gur-e Amir, I managed to see the Cathedral of St. Alexis of Moscow, a small square with a sculpture of Confucius, and a monument to Amir Timur.
A Bit of History
I found very little information about this landmark. It is known that the Roman Catholic Church building was constructed in 1916. Online sources mention that the construction of the church began when war prisoners from European countries started arriving in Samarkand.
The architect E. Nelle was the project's author. In Soviet times, the fate of many similar places in Samarkand was similar: the cult building was turned into a sports hall. The church was returned to believers at the end of the 20th century.
During my visit, there were no tourists or parishioners, so I peacefully walked around the church complex. The church building can be described as quite small. An information board is located at the entrance, and sculptures are installed in the niches on the facade. An unexpected sight that I did not anticipate finding here was a set of soccer goals.
Interestingly, this is not the first Catholic church I have encountered in Uzbekistan. Another similar structure I came across while traveling through the country was the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Tashkent.
My next article will be dedicated to the Gur-e Amir mausoleum. It is known worldwide as the burial place of Amir Timur (Tamerlane).
Have a nice trip!