Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi in Turkestan city, Kazakhstan
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasavi
In Kazakhstan, whose history goes back to the ancient past, many cultural monuments and even entire cities have been preserved, many centuries old. One of these unique and remarkable artifacts is the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi, located in the ancient city of Turkestan.
The mausoleum of Khoja Ahmet Yasavi began to be erected at the behest of Tamerlan in honor of the famous Sufi poet and preacher in the East in the year of victory over Khan Tokhtamysh, the ruler of the Golden Horde.
The city of Turkestan, previously called Yassi, was one of the nodes of the Great Silk Road, connecting it with the Dashtikypchak steppe. Caravans from China, Persia, Byzantium, loaded with the finest porcelain, beautiful fabrics, jewelry and other goods, passed through these places. It was here that the wonderful Khoja Ahmed Yasavi lived his life, whose poems carried thoughts of good and honor to people, poems that people learned by heart and passed along the chain far beyond Dashtikypchak.
Construction of the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi
The mausoleum of Khoja Ahmet Yasavi was built from 1385 to 1405, and the architectural monument was erected at the behest of the emir Timur (Tamerlane) in honor of the well-known Sufi (ancient Türkic) poet and preacher Ahmet Yasavi in the East, where his humble tombstone The beginning of the construction of a new mausoleum on the site of the old and dilapidated Tamerlane celebrated his victory over Khan Tokhtamysh, the ruler of the Golden Horde.
The erection of a mausoleum on the grave of an authoritative man among Muslims is a literate political step: thus, Tamerlane strengthened his authority among nomadic peoples. It is believed that she himself took direct part in the drafting of the mausoleum and its decoration. When building the mausoleum, innovative architectural solutions were applied for their time, later used in the construction of Samarkand, the capital of the empire.
For two decades, an impressive complex has grown on this territory, combining the functions of a mausoleum, a mosque, a khanaka, and administrative and economic premises. Nearby, construction of a Sufi monastery, a follower of Yasawi, was also begun, but Tamerlane’s death stopped construction.
At the time of the Kazakh Khanate, the building of the Khoja Ahmet Yasavi mausoleum and the surrounding buildings were the residence of the Kazakh khans. The mausoleum is surrounded by a strong wall, a shaft and a barrow, which served to defend the complex, giving it the status of a fortress.
The design of the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi
The Khoja Ahmed Yasavi memorial complex is a giant rectangle-shaped building (46.5 x 65.5 m), decorated with portals and domes, one of which is the largest brick dome in all of Central Asia (its height is 44 m, diameter is 22 m). This is all the more important because the dome since ancient times is considered by Muslims a symbol of unity and hospitality.
Thick stone walls keep a pleasant coolness - the outer walls of the mausoleum are almost 2 m thick, the walls of the central hall are 3 m. In the interweaving of corridors, visitors' steps echo, the lattice windows soften the sunlight, plunging the rooms into the mysterious twilight - it enchants each guest, allows you to plunge in a special magical atmosphere.
Yasavi Mausoleum in Turkestan
Inside the mausoleum there are thirty-six different rooms and halls. First of all, it is a beautiful central hall, the walls of which are covered with blue tiles - there is a huge cauldron from an alloy of seven metals with a diameter of 2.45 m and a weight of about two tons, which once served to feed people after the Friday prayer. The impressive bronze lamp of 1397 — Tamerlan’s gift to the mausoleum — is also striking here.
There is also a tomb of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, whose door is decorated with ivory and wood carvings; Khoja Ahmed Yasavi cell; Grand Palace with the khan's throne and scepter; Small Palace, where the pantheon of Kazakh Khans is located (43 tombstones); The Small Mosque is the main place of prayer; a library, as well as ancillary extensions - a sauna with steam rooms, a well and a dining room, where ancient stoves, a boiler, wooden utensils from which pilgrims ate and other ancient household items were kept.
The area around the mausoleum belongs to the territory of the historical and cultural museum-reserve "Azret-Sultan". This mausoleum is a work of art of medieval architecture, for which it was recently included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
How to get there
The mausoleum is the most significant landmark of Turkestan, which can be easily reached by bus or minibus - you don’t even need to know the stop, it’s enough to name the final destination of the trip.
You can directly get to Turkestan by train (including Moscow - Astana), or fly to the nearest major transport hub - Shymkent. From Almaty or Astana to Shymkent can be reached by plane, and the remaining 180 km can be reached by bus or taxi in about 3 hours.