Shymkent

Shymkent, the third largest city of Kazakhstan, is not without reason called the heart of Silk Way. It is the crossing of important roads between West and East, North and South. The highway East Europe-East China passes through the city. Currently the reconstruction of ancient cities, which affected Shymkent is underway. Specifically, the ancient citadel is being restored. The ethnical museum Kyluyet in the suburb of Shymkent opens secrets of the art of ceramics and takes into the world of clay cities of the Silk Way times. One of the important historical monuments of the South Kazakhstan region is the Otrar settlement. First references to Otrar date back to the 1st century BC. This important city in Silk Way served the center of trade with nomads and was known as the largest center of science and arts in Central Asia. One of the great ancient thinkers Al-Farabi, the Aristotelian, was born and worked here. Farab, the former name of Otrar, was one of the centers of Reconnaissance which began in Central Asia earlier than in Europe. In early XIIIth century this city challenged Genghis Khan and sustained a six-month siege. Unlike Genghis Khan Tamerlane left in the history of Central Asia not only the memory of great military campaigns, but also great architectural opuses. After defeat of Golden Horde, Tamerlane built in Turkestan a magnificent mausoleum to honor Khodzha Akhmed Yassavi, a well-known Turkic Sufism prophet. The city of Turkestan is also known as the headquarters of Kazakh khans, including Abylai-Khan who managed to join Kazakh lands and defend the country in the smack down with Dzhungar Khanate. In many ways Abylai-Khan determined the further history of the country. Meeting Russia halfway he was able to prevent the advancement of China westward and laid the foundation of the Eurasian development of Kazakhstan. The natural park Aksu-Dzhabagly opens its spaces for those who love high mountains, deep canyons and flowers. Tourists are welcome to guest homes, the developed system of routes and experienced guides, including those whom speak English. Here you can climb mountain summits, where snow does not melt, and descend to the deepest canyon in Central Asia – Aksu. Many tourists come here to see Greig and Kaufman tulips – ancestors of all species of tulips, including Dutch tulips. The national natural park Sayram-Ugam is located only 70 kilometers from Shymkent. It covers the Kazakhstani part of the Ugam ridge and allows enjoining unique landscapes of West Tien Shan. The unforgettable impression is produced by Aksu Canyon, the depth of which riches 500 meters. In spite of the big depth of Aksu Canyon, you have a chance to step over it. You can do it at the amazing place called Devil’s Bridge (Shaitan Kopyr) where the edges of the canyon converge so closely that the distance between them comprises only a half meter. A kilometer down the river it completely disappears in the ground. This place is called Black Mouth. The city of Sayram is located forty kilometers from the park Sayram Ugam, it was first mentioned in the first century. Its former name was Ispijab and it was a large city in Silk Way. One can see the mausoleums of Khodzha Akhmed Yassavi’s parents and the ingenious minaret Khyzr. Shymkent has five-star hotels, the state-of the art airport and even its own airline. In South Kazakhstan one can both enjoy the nature of West Tien Shan and see how ancient cities of Kazakhstan looked, and feel how the heart of Silk Way beats.

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