Davkesen Fortress

Davkesen Fortress

The ruins of Devkesen Fortress are located 60 km west of Konye-Urgench, along the main road following the border with Uzbekistan and just few kilometers west from Shemakha Kala. These ruins are one of the most striking monuments of Northern Turkmenistan. This place highlights in the advertisement of several Turkmen travel agents and tourists were certainly visiting the site until late 2003, but unfortunately more recent would-be visitors report being turned back by Turkmen border guards at one of the checkpoints along the way. The explanation has been that the track crosses Uzbek territory and is therefore out of bounds for tourists. If you are interested in visiting the site, please contact us and we will confirm the situation with our local collaborators.

Devkesen appears to have first been settled around the 4th century BC. It rises above the 30-meter cliff of Ustyurt, crowned with the magnificent outlines of a mighty mud citadel with corrugated walls, overlooking the area. These are traces of a desolate ancient and early medieval city. The ancient is well-preserved fortifications were used as the basis for a new defensive system created in the 16th and 17th centuries. Within the city, there are three unnamed ruined mausoleums, dating to around the 15th century and the remains of a mosque. One of these mausoleums is popularly believed to be the final resting place of Farhad and Shirin, the doomed young lovers who were the subject of a popular poem by the 15th-century Timurid writer Navoi.

The main mausoleum, square in plan, with cut corners, where octagonal niches are arranged, is covered with a dome, has a high portal on the main facade and vaulted niches on the rest. Two other mausoleums are also built with the same constructive and compositional techniques. All three are built on one line parallel to the fortress wall. The mosque is almost destroyed, the courtyard surrounded by arched galleries on pillars, walls and pillars were built of stone and the domes and arches were made of burnt bricks. There is no decor left on these monuments.

The site is most likely the medieval settlement of Vazir, visited by the Elizabethan merchant Anthony Jenkinson in 1558. Jenkinson was particularly impressed by the melons of Vazir. But Jenkinson also reported that the river waters on which the town depended were failing and Vazir was soon to be abandoned, being another victim of the everchanging course of the Amu Darya. Soltan Ali, the Khorezm Khan whose mausoleum (possibly) lies in Konye-Urgench, was based here, but his successor moved to Urgench around 1573.

Sights & destinations near Devkesen

Page updated 9.3.2021

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