Kunya Urgench

Almost 100 kilometers from the city of Dashoguz ( 480 km from Ashgabat ) is located the ancient city of Kunya-Urgench (Old Urgench). Today this ancient settlement is the state historical and cultural reserve with the area of about 640 hectares (created in 1985).

At the beginning of the 1st century AD the Chinese sources mentioned the city of Yue-gan which is identified with city of Gurgench or Urgench. It relates to Khorezm according to the ancient and medieval geographic conceptions. In the later period this city is mentioned in connection with the most important political events.  

The name of the city of Urgench is entered in the history of Central Asia with gold letters. In the end of the 10th century Urgench (formely Gurgandzh) was the capital of the huge and prospering Khorezmshakh state which occupied the entire area of the Amu Darya delta in northern Turkmenistan and western Uzbekistan.

Kunya - Urgench stood on the extremely favorable geographical location - the crossing of two major caravan routes: to the east, to China, and from the south - to the northwest, to the Volga. Such position inevitably influence the city's growth rate and it did grew, quickly expanding turning in to a true center of civilization. In the beginning of the 11th century Gurgandzh became so well-known that eclipsed the glory of Bukhara. Scientists and poets, who glorified the city as «the capital of thousand wise men«, flocked there. The ingenious scientist, doctor and philosopher Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna) and the great encyclopaedist Abu reikhan Berunyi used to live and work there.

During entire 13th century Gurgandzh had been a heart of «the Islamic World " until its governor rebelled against Genghis Khan. Mongols completely destroyed the famous city, razed it to the ground. That is why contemporary Kunya - Urgench is considerably wrecked. Many historical buildings of Kunya-Urgench have remained from the times of Khoresmshakh dynasty. They can serve as examples of the variety of Islamic architecture of Central Asia. Various types of contruction designs, rare dome shapes , tremendous purity of colors - they all cause admiration.  

Kunya Urgench had been destroyed and rebuilt several times. And at last, the city was miraculously revived by trade that had been united into the lands of the Golden Horde and by 1366 had become” the largest, greatest, most beautiful and most important city of Turks”, a city that “shakes under the weight of its population. Ibn Battuta continues to describe a city so busy that a man could not move in the throng.  The Arab, Persian historians, geographers and travellers left enormous information about Kunya Urgench.

Urgench reached its particular bloom during the rule of Kutlug Timur and his wife Tyurabek-khanym. During this period the most magnificent architectural monuments of Urgench were erected.

The first of them is a jewel of ancient Khoresm - the mausoleum of Tyurabek-khanym a nd the minaret of Kutlug-Timur. There are also majestic ancient fortified cities like Devkesen, Shasenem, Zmukshir, Kenevas and many others.

There are preserved numerous archeological and architectural monuments presenting considerable scientific and cultural value on the territory of Kunya Urgench. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided to include Kunya Urgench in its list of world heritage at the 29th session held in Durban, South Africa.

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