Turkestan - the most important site of piligrimage in Kazakhstan
The jewel of the Silk Road is the city of Turkestan – one of the most ancient cities not only Kazakhstan but also in Central Asia. Founded in 490 it reached its prosperity period in the 12th century. Surrounded by powerful fortifications, Turkestan was the administrative center of Central Asian rulers such as Khwarezm shahs, Mongols, Timurids and Shaybanids. In the 16th – 18th centuries it was the capital of Kazakh khanate standing on the joint between nomadic and settled cultures, the crossroads of trade routes. The city witnessed majestic ceremonies of enthronement of khans which were attended by the representatives of other states.
The city’s popularity in the world was among other things promoted by the name of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi, the dervish, Sufi preacher and poet who lived n the city. Over the modest tomb of the Saint, which turned into the pilgrimage place equal to Mecca, (233 years later) the majestic mausoleum was erected by the order of Amir Timur making Turkestan a Muslim relic.
Khoja Ahmed Yassawi mausoleum is an unsurpassed masterpiece of medieval architecture. It is an amazing complex of palaces and temples consisting of 30 various rooms and halls. The external diameter of the main dome is more than 40 m, its circumference - 130 m, the height of minarets - 12 m. The elegance of the decor, the patterns of ceilings and colored mosaic are strikingly beautiful. The monument has been restored to its original condition and is protected by the state. Everyone has a chance to admire the jewel of Medieval Orient in the city of Turkestan.
People believe that the road to Turkestan should necessarily include the mausoleum of Arystan-Baba erected over the tomb of Akhmad Yassawi. According to the legend the elder was the associate of the Prophet Mohammed and lived for 500 years to pass his knowledge and wisdom of the Prophet to Khoja Ahmed Yassawi. In the 16th century Yassy received its modern name of Turkestan. Dozens of ancient towns, settlements and religious structures decorate the vicinities of Turkestan; each monument is unique in its own way.