Sayram, Kazakhstan

Ancient Sayram – the City of Countless Mausoleums of Saints

Sayram or ancient Ispijab, the only city in Kazakhstan, mentioned in "Avesta", the Zoroastrian holy book, was located in the Aksu and Sayramsu interfluves , at the crossroads of major caravan routes, thus witnessing a fast-paced history of the Great Silk Road.

This city, thanks to its convenient geographical position, served as the main base for the new religion of Islam to spread to other lands. That is why, modern Sayram is rich in a great number of monuments and mausoleums with burial places of significant figures of Islamic and medieval scholars.

Thus, the city is famous as a birthplace of most revered figures of the Islamic world, such as Ahmed Yassawi, Yu Saremi, Ahmet and Kamaliddin Isfidjabi, K. Bayzaui and many others.

After a period of rapid development, Sayram gradually lost its significance as an important trade center due to internecine warriors of the local feudal lords early in the XVII century, and today, in its place, there is only a village with same name.

Though most of the landmarks, erected in the Silk Road heyday, fell into disrepair, Sayram still remains one of the main places of pilgrimage for believers, and its few architectural structures survived to the present day, deserve special attention of historians and theologians.

The people call Sayram “the place of countless saints”. This is true: no matter how distant a Sayram village is, sure enough, there is an ancient mausoleum or mazar of Muslim saint. From year to year, pilgrims from all over the world visit this village to honor their memory.

The Sayram ancient monuments include mausoleums, erected over the graves of the spiritual ruler, of Sheikh Ibrahim, and Karashash-ana - the father and mother of the great scholar and poet Khoja Ahmed Yassavi.

Other sacred monuments are the mausoleums of Bibigiyas-ana and Salyk Khoja, erected in honor of the legendary prophet Hyzr’s parents. According to the popular belief, every Friday at dusk Hazret Hyzr comes to these mausoleums to pay homage to the ashes of their parents.

A visit to Sayram is interesting not only for believers, but also for those who are keen on ancient history of the region, because it is a kind of open-air museum that preserves many ancient legends and interesting architectural artifacts.