Turkestan city in Republic of Kazakhstan
The city of Turkestan, located in the middle of the arid steppes of the extreme south of Kazakhstan, is a true gift to the history of the tourism industry. With a 1500-year history, this city is today one of the most important centers of Muslim pilgrimage in Central Asia, and the mausoleum of poet Sufi Khoja Ahmed Yassavi,built by Tamerlane is a major tourist attraction. About the history of this amazing city, how to get to it and what interesting things can be seen there - read in the material Today.kz.
The history of this city begins in the 6th century BC, when two cities arise in the Turkestan oasis - Shavgar and Yasy. Subsequently, on the place of the latter, Turkestan develops, while Shavgar gradually disappears. The city reached its heyday by the 12th century, when the fame of a populous rich settlement located on the Great Silk Road spread throughout the entire Islamic world. The Tatar-Mongol invasion caused a serious blow to the city, but soon the oasis again became a major political and economic center.
The most famous resident of Turkestan was Khodja Ahmed Yassavi, a learned theologian who gained enormous popularity and reverence among believers. After his death, the city also becomes one of the religious centers.
Now, the triple pilgrimage to Turkestan is recognized among Muslims of Central Asia as Hajj to Mecca
How to get to Turkestan
The largest transport hub closest to Turkestan - Shymkent - is located 180 kilometers away. You can get to Shymkent by plane, after which you can take a bus or a taxi, which will take you to Turkestan for about three hours.
Also, the major cities of Kazakhstan and Turkestan are connected by railway communication - with Astana directly, and when departing from Almaty, a transfer in Shymkent will be required.
In the city itself, you can travel on municipal buses and minibuses, which are briskly moving around the streets of Turkestan, stopping at the wave of the hand.
Entertainment and attractions of Turkestan
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassavi
The magnificent complex of the Khoja Ahmed Yassavi Mausoleum is the main attraction of Turkestan. Built by Timur to the glory of this medieval Sufi poet, he occupies in terms of a huge rectangle measuring 46 by 65 meters. In total, there are 36 rooms, including the central hall, covered by the largest brick dome in Central Asia of 18 meters diameter, and the height of the mausoleum in the central part is 44 meters. Inside, you should definitely see a huge ritual water bowl with a diameter of almost three meters and a weight of two tons, which is made of an alloy of seven metals, and an impressive bronze lamp, cast in 1397, is a gift from Tamerlane to the mausoleum.
Other interesting premises of the mausoleum are the Grand Palace with the khan's throne and scepter, the Small Palace, where the pantheon of the Kazakh khans is located (43 tombstones), the actual tomb of Khoja Ahmed Yassavi, the Small Mosque - the main place of prayer, as well as ancillary extensions - the well room and the dining room, where there are antique stoves, a cauldron and wooden dishes from which pilgrims ate.
Mausoleum Arystan Baba
Another important Islamic mausoleum in Turkestan is the resting place of Saint Arystan-Baba, in some way the “predecessor” Yassavi. Legend has it that the Prophet Mohammed himself gave his rosary to Arystan Baba, who, in turn, presented them to young Yassavi. In addition to the tomb of this saint, you can see here an amazing sample of the Quran - it is exposed under glass.
According to legend, when Tamerlane began to build the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, the structure was destroyed several times in a mystical way. After that, Tamerlane had a dream in which he was instructed to first build a mausoleum for Arystan Baba, and only then take care of Yasavi's memory. So he did - and for the same reason pilgrims visit the mausoleums in that order.
In the historical center of Turkestan there are also many other Islamic monuments. Here you should see the underground mosque Hilvet (12th century), the museum "Zhuma Mosque" of the 18th century, the Museum of the Eastern Bath and the Museum of History of the City of Turkestan (here it is interesting to tell about the capture of the city by the Mongols), the Museum of Archeology and Rabi Sultan Begim (15 century) and the Museum "Street of Turkestan."
Surroundings of Turkestan
In the vicinity of Turkestan there are also many natural and historical sights, which definitely deserve attention. Nature lovers are invited to visit the Otrar oasis (60 kilometers from Turkestan), on the territory of which in the 9th-12th centuries one of the most important cities of the Great Silk Road was located - Otrar. Today, you can see the remains of the settlement - the ruins are preserved, it does not matter, but the scale of the settlement is really amazing.
You can also visit the Karatau Nature Reserve, located in the central part of the mountain range of the same name, where 15 species of animals are listed in the Red Book. The reserve has a variety of trekking routes.
Recall, June 19, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree on the formation of the Turkestan region. The head of state stressed that the region has all the possibilities for the qualitative implementation of new administrative functions, and noted the importance of the historic decision.