Courtesy of Ludovic Maisant/Corbis

Framed by an archway covered with blue and turquoise mosaics, Samarkand’s blue-domed Gur-e Amir houses the remains of the famous conqueror Tamerlane (also known as Timur). In the late 14th century, Tamerlane rebuilt the fabled city, which had been one of the principal stops on the Silk Road between about 200 B.C. and 1220 A.D., when it was destroyed by Genghis Khan’s Mongol army.