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Winter Palace, inside a splendid room with white and gold decoration

Inside the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg (1700s AD)

After 1500, architects in Central Asia divided into those who looked west, to Western Europe, for inspiration, those who looked south, to the Safavids and the Mughals, and those who looked east, to the Qing Dynasty in China.

In the west, Russian czars and czarinas built palaces and cathedrals that competed with the palaces and cathedrals of Germany and Austria, and often were designed by German or Italian architects. The Winter Palace of St. Petersburg is a good example.

monastery with two stories, deep porches held up by white columns, and a red tile roof

Amarbayasgalant Monastery, Mongolia (1700s AD)

Further east, the decline of the Silk Road meant that Central Asia became poorer. People continued to live in round yurts, as many still do today. They also built big stone lamasseries. Lamasseries were monasteries where lamas, or Buddhist monks, lived. The earliest lamasseries, in the 1500s and 1600s, were in the style of Chinese temples and palaces, but later ones were also influenced by local architecture – sometimes they looked like stone yurts – and by Indian and Tibetan styles.

Bibliography and further reading about Central Asian architecture:

Main Central Asia page