Another city of Southern Kazakhstan, Taraz, which used to be the centre of the steppe part of the Silk Road, is over 2000 years old.
The other Taraz’ name was “the city of merchants”; it was the capital of Turgesh and later of Karluks and Karakhanids. This land has preserved the traces of citadels, caravanserais, pise-walled mud huts of commoners, clay fences and court yards, and craftsmen’s workshops.
It was there that Turkic khagan Dizabul received the embassy of Justinian II of Byzantium led by strategos Zemarkh which arrived there for the purpose of conclusion military alliance to fight off potential enemies and discussion of the silk trade issues. The skilful craftsmen, whose silks were equal to gold-embroidered Chinese and Indian brocade or Byzantine purpure lived and worked on the banks of the Talas. The art jewelry-making reached the point of its highest development in the period of caravan trade.
Taraz is one of the most ancient cities of Kazakhstan first mentioned in the 6th century. The city remained the major center of nonferrous metallurgy for centuries. Local craftsmen wee famous for their highly-developed art of forging and molding. The vivid example of it is the ritual cauldron of Ahmed Jasavi's mausoleum in Turkestan.
Taraz’s growth reached its peak in the 10th – 12th centuries when it became known as the capital of Karakhanid sate. The remains of clay water pipelines, architectural structures, sidewalks and paved streets, numerous products of skilful craftsmen found during the excavations testify to its former greatness. In 1220 Taraz was besieged and destroyed by the armies of Genghis Khan. In the end of the 18th century next to the ruins the new fortress was erected which was followed by rapid development of the city.
If you travel in Taraz vicinities, you will discover dozens of historical monuments of the former prosperity: Karakhan and Davudbek mausoleums, the palaces of governors and a number of others.
Near modern Taraz are located the masterpieces of ancient architecture: Babadzhi-khatun (the 10th – 11th centuries) and Aisha-bibi (the 11th – 12th centuries) mausoleums. They are both designated by UNESCO as the World Heritage Sites.
And there is the city of Akyrtas located 40 kilometers from Taraz. It might be interesting for due to its palace occupying 3-square-kilometer territory. The palace is unusual in its lay-out and is built from stones, the fact not characteristic for those places. In the only building in Southern Kazakhstan made from big stone blocks.
Since the 19th the famous scientists of our time have tried to shed some light on the history of this unique monument of architecture. They doubted everything: the construction time, the purpose of its erection and even the name. The architects of those far away centuries skillfully carried out precise mathematical calculations, were able to perfectly process stones and erect complex architectural structures. The grandeur of a plan and the skill of Akyrtas erection might put this mysterious edifice in line with Egyptian pyramids and other known structures of antiquity.