Kunya-Urgench

The UNESCO World Heritage Site and ancient capital of Kunya Urgench, located in the north-east, is one of Turkmenistan's most treasured destinations. Once an important stronghold of the Achaemenid Empire, it once contained the city of Khoresm (sometimes known as Khwarezm) whose stunning ruins and amazing architecture draw visitors today. With its natural spring and advantageous position on the Silk Road, Kunya-Urgench boasts well-preserved monuments and buildings dating back to the 11th century.

Visitors will base themselves in the modern regional capital city of Dashoguz just 60 miles from Kunya Urgench. It's a popular crossing point for Uzbekistan and home to the best hotels from which to explore the rich heritage of the surrounding area. Nearby, Izmukshir is not only a fortress of historic significance but the birth- and resting-place of a famous Muslim scholar. Kunya Urgench is populated with countless minarets, madrassas and mausoleums housing some of the most important figures of the area's history.

Experiences

A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.

Al-Mamun’s Academy of Sciences

At its peak as the capital of the mighty Khoresm state, Kunya Urgench was the center of learning for Islam as well as a great many other disciplines and arts. To cater to the large cultural, economic and religious community, the first academy of sciences of the east was established.

Mausoleum of Abu Qasim al-Zamakhshari, Izmukshir

Just over 15 miles southwest of Dashoguz lies the town of Izmukshir, the birthplace of noted medieval Muslim scholar, Al-Zamakhshari. Dating back as far as the third century BC, the fortress city of Izmukshir, though ruined, contains madrasahs and mausoleums that have outlived countless dynasties and empires.

Mausoleum of Il-Arslan

Built more than 700 years ago using ancient, medieval techniques, this unique cubic construction is one of the oldest in the region and has survived numerous invasions. Its brick patterned dome serves as a template for many similar buildings in Samarkand. Here lies Il Arslan, father of Sultan Tekesh.

Mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh

Built for the ruthless sultan, Khoresmshakh Tekesh, this mausoleum combined with the mausoleum of Il-Arslan comprise the necropolis of the fearsome Khoresm leaders. It’s one of the last examples of pre-Mongol architecture and, at nearly 100 feet tall, once acted as a beacon in the desert.

Mausoleum of Turabek Khanum

In the midst of Kunya Urgench, once the most important city in the Islamic world, stands the astounding mausoleum, built for the princess Turabek Khanum and now the resting place of the Sufi kings. Built in the 14th century, the building is richly-decorated and steeped in myths and legends.

Minaret of Kutlug Timur

Built over three centuries, the Kutlug Timur minaret towers above Kunya Urgench’s main mosque. Richly decorated with belts of inscription, the minaret stands at nearly 200 feet high, making it the tallest in central Asia.

Najamuddin Kubra Mausoleum

Built in the 14th century for the famous religious teacher Najamuddin Kubra who founded a significant Sufi order, the mausoleum is one of the most sacred buildings in Kunya Urgench. The walled compound creates a peaceful courtyard shaded by trees, and also contains the tomb of Sultan Ali.

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