Turkestan is a Silk Road town located in the South region of Kazakhstan and it is one of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan that dates back to more than 1500 years ago. The city is between the cities of Kyzylorda in the Northwest and Shymkent in the southeast and Tashkent the capital of Uzbekistan lies not far in the South. The city contains the most impressive monuments and most important pilgrimage sites of Kazakhstan like Timurid Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Aassaui.
The first settlement citylike settlement of Turkestan arose at the beginning of the 6th century AD. In the 12th century, the famous Sufi poet and teacher of Turkic peoples, Khoja Ahmed Yassavi mystic preached here. In the 14th century, the troops of the conqueror Tamerlane arrived to Turkestan. In order to gain the confidence of the steppe nomads, Tamerlane renamed this city to Iasi in honor of Khoja Ahmed Yassavi. Later, Iasi received a new name of Turkestan. In the 16th century Turkestan was chosen as the capital of the Kazakh Khanate and stayed with it until the 19th century. For many centuries, Turkestan has been a place of pilgrimage among Muslims who are interested in the mausoleums of Arystan-Bab, the Ukash, who according to legend, was one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, and the mysterious cave with the oasis Ak Mechet.
Turkestan is split into the is the old city and the new city. Obviously, all the tourists spend time in the ancient part of the town, however the new side is worth to see as well. Turkestan is an industrial, educational and cultural center.
How to get to Turkestan
Turkestan is located in the South Kazakhstan region, nearest major transport hub to Turkestan is Shymkent that lie 170 km away.
Recently, in September 2020 in Turkestan was opened a new International Airport located 20 km from the city center. At the first stage, Kazakh airlines will open flights to Nur-Sultan and Almaty. From international airlines, Turkish Airlines is planning to open flights to Istanbul. Furthermore,
Turkestan can be reached through Shymkent airport, there are regular flights from Almaty, Nur-Sultan and Aktau, as well as some international flights.
Turkestan is located along the Orenburg Tashkent railway and served also by the trains passing by between Shymkent and Kyzylorda. However, the train station is located outside of the town.
Bus / Taxi
You can get from Shymkent to Turkestan by bus, it departs from the Samal international bus station.
The bus journey usually takes a little over two hours from Shymkent to Turkestan. It will cost about 500 tenge for adult and around 250 tenge for kid.
what to see in Turkestan
Turkestan History Museum
The Historical Museum of Turkestan is located in the historical and architectural monument of Kazarma along Tauke Khan Avenue. The museum is placed in the area of Ancient Turkestan. Originally the building was built to house the lower ranks of the first group of the Turkestan rifle battalion.
The exposition of the museum consists of 8 sections: monuments of the stone, bronze and early iron eras, the Turkestan oasis of the Turkic period, the city of Shavgar, the city of Yasy, Khoja Ahmed Yassavi, the Ancient city of Turkestan, Turkestan the capital of the Kazakh Khanate, Turkestan the spiritual center of the Turkic world.
Khoja Ahmed Yassaui
The huge mausoleum complex honor the 10th-century Muslim mystic Khoja Akhmet Yassawi, who died in the city and is buried on the site.
The large Mazar built over the mausoleum was commissioned by Tamerlane, and its unique turquoise roof attracts flocks of pilgrims every year
what to see nearby Turkestan
Otrartobe is a significant destination where today lies the ruins of the formerly prosperous Silk Road town of Otrar. The ancient town of Otrar also know as Farab is situated next to the Otrar town on 60 km southeast of Turkestan. Situated in the Silk Road of Kazakhstan, Otrar was a center of a great oasis and key spot linking China with Europe and Siberia with the Middle East. The Otrar oasis is placed at the junction of the Arys river into the Syrdarya, a territory of ancient agriculture.
Abn Nasr Farabi born in this place in 870 and Timur died in this place in 1405. It has all the typical features of a medieval Central Asian town: citadel, shahristan (a town in itself), rabat (suburbs) and fields, everything surrounded by walls.
In the same area as Ortat Tobe is a located a state historical and cultural reserve Ancient Otrar Museum, where you can find a numerous of archaeological findings from pottery to weaponry and adornments. Another room is devoted to the scientist and philosopher, Al-Farabi, born here around AD 872.
Arystan Bab was the mentor of Ahmed Yassawi and the pilgrimage to the great mausoleum in Turkistan is often followed by a visit to the mausoleum of his teacher.