Izmukshir Fortress​

Izmukshir Fortress

Izmukshir Fortress (Zamakshar) is located 25 km southwest from Dashoguz city, in an area that is nowadays a sandy part of Kara Kum desert. The fortress ruins are placed in the territory of the historical and cultural reserve museum Kunya-Urgench, the ancient capital of a Khorezm State. What you can see here are only a small fragment of the former magnificent walls and some buildings from the fortress that was once huge. Nevertheless, it has still managed to keep a part of its monumentality and beauty within the high wall towers and other remaining structures. The length of the wall that survived up to our days still reaches the length of about 1500 m. Right in front of the fortress’s entry, there is a deep crescent shaped ditch, called “Gala Kendegi”. 

The first buildings in Izmukshir area are supposed to date from the III century BC to III century AD. The fortress reached its peak of development in the IX-XII centuries during the so-called Oriental Renaissance epoch. Zamakshar was growing and expanding under the Gaznevids, Seljukids, Karakhanids, and reached the peak of its power during regiment of the Khorezmshakh dynasty. During the Mongolian invasion, Izmukshir like other Khorezm cities and fortresses, was captured and almost completely destroyed. The Izmukshir Fortress is famous not only for its wealthy history but also for an outstanding figure born there.

Abu al-Kasim Mahmud ibn Umar az-Zamakhshari was born in the Zamakshar Fortress city on 8 March 1075. When he was young, he served as an apprentice in the madrasahs of Bukhara and Samarkand, followed by a time when he lived for a long period in Mecca where he received the nickname “Jaralla”, literally translated as “Servitor to God”. He was a scholar, theologian, philosopher and a poet, who was esteemed in the east. Actually, he spent all his life away from home, where he only came back when he was already an old man and he died in 1144 in his motherland in the Zamakshar Fortress (Izmukshir) city.

The desert has not treated Izmukshir Fortress lightly as major parts of it have been destroyed beyond retrieve and covered up with sand, but still, several buildings managed to survive, giving an idea about the grandiosity of the city. The characteristic feature of all the existing buildings are the arched niches located in the walls. These niches were used as a place to keep dishware and household utensils and one can imagine how people lived here already more than 2000 years ago. This is one of the Khorezm’s most monumental fortresses, which during its long existence was a part of the great states of Central Asia and outlived more than one dynasty of eastern rulers already long before the silk road era and the chain of hundreds of walled cities in the Khorezm oasis.

Other sights near Zamakshar

Page updated 22.6.2022

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