Turkistan, an ancient city of the old glory

Heewon Jang | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The city of Turkistan in Kazakhstan is known by everyone in the country but also in the surrounding area. Pilgrims go for spiritual cleansing there - they believe that there is a miracle that heals any disease. Others visit it to discover ancient history. In fact, the history of this city is truly rich and old. Everyone knows it for the unique mausoleums (the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi and the Arystan Bab Mausoleum), but not many know it as Turkistan, an ancient city of the old glory. 

The old glory

Turkistan is located in the south of Kazakhstan, between Kyzylorda and Tashkent. This city is unbelievably old. The first mention of it as the city dates back to the 15th century. Thousands of years ago, it was the capital of Kazakh Khanate and also was considered the pearl of the Great Silk Road. It had a very important role in the economy of Kazakh Khanate. The glory of the city spread throughout the world. Once one of the richest cities nowadays turned into a small place, but it didn’t lose its majesty, thanks to the beautiful medieval architecture and many relics. Turkistan, the ancient city of the old glory, is not and will never be forgotten, as long as the city keeps its unique constructions. In the time of Kazakh Khanate, it was an honor to be buried in this city. Therefore, the great Kazakh khans also rest in this city, such as Asim-Khan, Ablai-Khan, Abulkhair Khan, just to mention some of them.  

Picture © Credits to iStock/ozbalci

The city of legends and water wells

Turkistan is full of water wells as legends. One of them says that there is a sacred well somewhere, famous from Khoja Ahmed Yassawi's times. To reach it, you must pass the steppes and mountains. It’s impossible to get there by car. It looks very ordinary at first sight, there is absolutely nothing special about it, but only a sinless person can get water out of it. Before, it was a trustable way for the inhabitants of the city to check the foreigners, whether they were good people or charlatans.

Picture © Credits to iStock/Vasca

The new city

Unofficially, the city of Turkistan is divided in the ancient city and the new one. Tourists almost aways visit only the ancient part. The new part is considered to be a large industrial, educational and cultural hub and a center of domestic and foreign tourism. Although in reality, it is not that big and has only 164 000 habitats. The city still preserves the ancient atmosphere, and its walls still keep a lot of secrets. You will feel it yourself when in the ancient city of the old glory.

Picture © Credits to iStock/Ozbalci

Hints for tourists

Tourists usually go to Turkistan for a one-day trip without staying overnight. The easiest way is to go to Shymkent city and take a tourist bus, train, taxi or marshrutka (a mini-bus taxi which follows a set route). There is no problem with transport here. Buses usually take you directly to the ancient part of the city, where the mausoleums are. If you want to make your trip easier, take a guided tour of several hours, which will also take you back. The best way to book everything is to do it online. Turkistan, an ancient city of the old glory, won't leave you disappointed.

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