Tamerlane the Great was even more famed for the construction of the Yassawi Mausoleum and he was called "Protector of Saints' Graves ". People still call the Hodja Akhmed Yassawi Mausoleum "The Mausoleum built by Emir Timur".
The Yassawi Mausoleum could be compared to unique ancient architectural constructions of Central Asia such as the Mosque of Bibikhanum in Samarkand, the Ak-Saray Palace and the Dorusaddat burial tomb in Shakhrisabz in Uzbekistan, and is protected by the UNESCO as a historical monument of world significance. The Mausoleum withstood numerous earthquakes, gunfire, for centuries its construction has been undergoing severe desert climate. The Mausoleum, divided into eight independent sections, is a rectangular building of 46,5 by 65,5 meters and 37,5 meters in height, with walls of two to three meters in thickness and a foundation of three meter in depth. The walls hold a dome of 18,2 meters in diameter. The main hall of the Mausoleum is called "kazandyk" (the room with a bronze cauldron, "kazan", the ritual vessel, in the center). The kazan has always been a symbol of unity, prosperity and hospitality for Turkic peoples, and that is why special importance was attached to its size and outer look.
In 1570-1580, Yasy known as a prosperous stronghold in the Syr Darya River regionbecame a political and religious center of the Southern Kazakhstan. At that time the Turkestan government started coining its own currency.
Since 19th century, Turkestan has underwent significant re-constructions and re-planning, and today this modern city with unique ancient history is cherished as a historical monument and is being visited by thousands of pilgrims and tourists.
The reconstructed and renovated Hodja Akhmed Yassawi Mausoleum towers as a symbol of today's Turkestan which is successfully gaining back the past glory of one of the most educational and cultural centers of Kazakhstan and Central Asia on its 1500th Anniversary.
THE CULTURAL RENAISSANCE OF CENTRAL ASIA
The celebration of the foundation of Turkestan, now fifteen centuries old, is a remarkable event not just for the city itself, but also for the Republic of Kazakhstan and all Turkic peoples.
Our goal today is to continue the development of Turkestan as an important cultural, spiritual, scientific, and trade center in Central Asia.
President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
On October 20, 2000, Kazakhstan and the entire Turkic world celebrated the 1500th Anniversary of Turkestan, an ancient city located on the Great Silk Road in the southern part of Kazakhstan.
Turkestan is one of the oldest towns in Central Asia,
once known as Yasy, the founding of which dates back to the 5th century. In the 6th century, as a result of subjugation and unification of some Turkic tribes of Altai, a new state, the Turkic Kaganate , was formed stretching from the Baikal Lake to the Volga river, with Yasy as a capital.
According to the Budhist pilgrim, Suan Tsang, who traveled by the Great Silk Road in the year of 630, the Turks living in what now is known as the Syr-Darya ("The Pearl") River area , were highly skilled in cattle raising, farming and trade. They had a written language with an alphabet of 32 letters and wrote from top to bottom.
Yasy's flourishing was much attributed to the development of education and culture and by the 12th century it reached its peak. Yasy is closely associated with the name of Khodja Akhmed Yassawi, a famous Sufi poet, philosopher and preacher, who spent a greater part of his life there. He gained fame as an active advocate of humanistic ideas professed by the Sufi Order and was highly respected for his
interpretation of Sheikh Khodja Usuf Khamadani's doctrine "Ways of Knowing the Truth". His outstanding philosophical and poetic work "Verses of Wisdom" is still being widely read and appreciated outside the Turkic speaking world. Circa 1166, Khodja Yassawi was buried with highest honors in a small burial vault. According to "Zafar Namay" ("Chronicles of Victories" considered to be an official historical record of Tamerlane the Great's reign and victories), in the fall of 1397, by a special decree of Amir Timur (Turkic name of Tamerlane the Great), the foundation of a would-be Hodja Yassawi Mausoleum was laid down above his burial tomb.
"The Chronicles" say that Tamerlane personally drafted a general layout of the mausoleum, sketches of the outside and inside architectural decorations and provided some mathematical calculations of the construction. From that time on, the Hodja Akhmed Yassawi Mausoleum became a place of worship for Muslim pilgrimages. Three visits to the Mausoleum were equaled to one pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca.