Turkestan is a small but ancient city in the Kazakh Desert. Kazakhstan largely lacks the kinds of Central Asian historical towns that make Uzbekistan a popular travel destination, but the exception is this one, relatively well preserved, 1600-year-old city. In the 11th century AD, the great Sufi Sheikh Khoja Ahmad Yasavi turned the city into the region's principal centre of learning, drawing scholars from across the steppe. In the late 14th century, Timur commissioned the creation of a massive mausoleum in his honour, which is to this day Kazakhstan's most prominent historical attraction, a major Muslim pilgrimage site, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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