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Khoja Ahmed Yassawi Mausoleum in Turkestan as a part of The Great Silkway Road

The Great Silk Way has long been a topic of discussion and subject of research for scientists from around the world. This historical event left an immense trace in the development and formation of the civilization in Central Asia. Undoubtedly, the history of this medieval artery is a global cultural and economic phenomenon.

This is an important part of history that helped to establish trade relations between the East and the West. One of its caravan ways passed through the territory of Kazakhstan. By the mid-II century BC, the Silk Way had become regular to serve as a diplomatic and cultural route linking Asia and Europe. Its 1.5 thousand-year existence caused the emerge, development and perish of many cities.

Khoja Ahmed Yassawi Mausoleum

Khoja Ahmed Yassawi Mausoleum

Later, in the VI-VII centuries, the most popular route passed through the southern Kazakhstan and Zhetysu. That moment marks a new stage in the development of those regions. There were three reasons for that. First, the Turkic Hagans, who controlled the Central Asian route, were based in Zhetysu. Secondly, as they and their numerous entourage were significant consumers of goods supplied from the West. The third reason was feuds in the Ferghana valley.

By the end of the VII century the Great Silk Way had become increasingly active on the territory of South Kazakhstan and Zhetysu, which played a significant role in the cultural development of the cities lying along the caravan routes. However, as history points out, in later years, civil wars, and the development of marine routes led over-land traffic to its extinction.

Traces of Silk way

There traces left in the cities of Turkestan, Sayram and Taraz are historically remarkable. The cities were focal points of the caravan routes. All of their cultural heritage proves it. Another important city of the past was Otrar. It is believed to be the center of the development of art, science and flourishing trade. However, during civil wars the city was razed to the ground. There are only ancient ruins left, which can momentarily send you back in times.

inside mauloleum

Speaking about the historical city of Sayram, it is worth noting its significance  during the Great Silk Way times as a trading settlement with its own culture and way of life. It is believed to be a location of the ancient city of Isfijab or the White city.

Another major trading centre on the Silk Way was the city of Taraz. One of Buddhist pilgrims and monks called it the city of merchants. From the centre of present-day Taraz merchants used to begin their journeys to the East.

Turkestan and Khoja Ahmed Yassawi Mausoleum

The city of Turkestan, formerly known as Iassi, is not just famous with its historical past and its location on the Great Silk Way. In the XII century, a grand architectural monument was built in its premises —  Khoja Ahmed Yassawi Mausoleum. The monument was erected in honor of the great thinker, poet, head of the Turkic Sufi branch, the author of philosophical works.

The monument is a complex consisting of a mausoleum, a khanqah and a mosque. It is an outstanding monument of the middle ages. Built as a dome, the mausoleum is 46,5 m wide, 62, 5 m long and 40 m high. The vaults and the domes of the monument represent Central Asian architecture of the times.

walls of mausoleum

The founder of the construction of a new mausoleum over the grave of Khoja Ahmed was warlord Timur (Tamerlane), who arrived in the city of Iassi in 1739 and performed the rite of worshipping the Sheikh. The scale of construction is staggering, the tomb of the Sheikh was erected by Shem Abdal-Wahab, its door is decorated with carvings in ivory and wood. The bronze hinges on the massive doors and many more details that were made then have survived to the present day.

By the order of Timur, in the village of Karnak, a striking with its size bronze water bowl was cast. However, Timur failed to complete the construction of the Mausoleum due to his sudden and unexpected death in 1405. But even unfinished it became and outstanding structure of the East with innovative architectural solutions and sizes of those times. The complex consists of 36 different rooms and halls. The thick walls keep it cool in hot weather. There are also baths in the complex. And of course there are rooms for prayers.

Nowadays, the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi is called the second Mecca. Many pilgrims from all over the world come here on religious holidays. However, this complex attracts visitors not only on special days. There are many tourists from different parts of the world. There are hotels, cafes and restaurants near the Mausoleum.

Best ways to see Turkestan and it’s sightseeings

As a rule, a trip to Turkestan starts with the city of Shymkent , which had an airport and a major train station. This is another ancient city in the South of Kazakhstan, which lies on the route of the Great Silk Way. It is now fully urbanized, there are squares and parks, and eyes gaze at the beautiful White Mosque. To feel the contrast between the modern world and the history, you can book a tour around Shymkent and Turkestan with skilled guides, who will tell a lot of interesting things about the region.

In general, a lot can be told about the history and traditions of Southern Kazakhstan. The cities here are surrounded by sand and keep a lot of secrets of the past, many of which are yet to be solved.

Another trip that shows the cutlure of Silk road — is Sairam and Shymkent city tour

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