The complex of historical monuments of Koneurgench, attracting the attention of numerous scientists-historians with its original architecture, is located on the left bank of the Amy-Darya River in Dashoguz province, 480 km to the north of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. Ancient Urgench is known in the history as the capital of the state of Khorezm and went down in history as one of the centers of the early civilization. During different historical periods, it had different names. Monuments of this ancient land in a variety of written sources dating back to the first millennium referred to as Gurgench, Urgench and Koneurgench. The peculiar beauty and unique structure of architectural constructions of Koneurgench is a result of a school of skilled masters that continued for a long period and managed to implement unique architectural techniques. The traditions of this school were spread throughout the Islamic world. There are many architectural constructions in the ancient land of Koneurgench: Turabek Khanum Mausoleum, IL- Arslan Mausoleum, Tekesh Mausoleum, Najm ad Din al-Kubra Mausoleum, Fakhraddin Razi Mausoleum, Mamun Minaret, Dashmechet Madrasah, Kyrkmolla, Gutluk Timur Minaret and many other monuments, which differ by their architectural structure and unique design.
Monuments of Koneurgench have seen a lot in their lifetime. There were the periods of dawn and decadence. They store in themselves not a few significant events, and today, the sacred land of Koneurgench and its ancient architectural monuments is a path of endless learning. Today, the mausoleum of Il-Arslan stands out with its unusual structure and beauty among several monuments. It has always attracted attention of historians. It was built in the form of a square and is distinguished by high strength of construction. The period of Il Arslan’s rule was marked by the heyday of economy, culture and art of Koneurgench. Il Arslan managed to expand the borders of his kingdom and was considered the most powerful ruler of the Eastern Islam. His fame as a great military leader thundered throughout the world. This mausoleum was built in the second half of the 12th century. The mausoleum is not big, is executed in the form of a square, and is very decorative. The length of the inner walls is equal to 3.5 meters and there are deep niches on each side. The upper part of the walls is covered with a belt of 12 facets, which are then connected to create a dome of 12 parts. The dome is covered with blue enamel and carved brickwork patterns and diamond-shaped patterns. On the dome, you can also distinguish traces of inscriptions and patterns.
Kutlug Timur Minaret
The Kutlug Timur Minaret is located 200 meters to the northwest of Sultan Atakesh Mausoleum and Sultan Seydahmed Mausoleum. It is one of the tallest structures of the middle Ages. Based on many features, scientists date this minaret to the 11th-12th centuries. It is one of few minarets of Urgench that survived the Mongol invasion in 1221. The three belts with inscriptions on the column of the minaret evidence this. The inscription, located below others near the entrance has a direct relation to the period of its construction. It contains information on the time of construction and the names of historical figures who lived at that time. It unquestionably implies that the minaret dates back to the time of Kutlug Timur. According to the information provided in some scientific publications of the 20 century, as preserved in Koneurgench Kutlug Timur minaret, the height of which is more than 60 meters in the 11-13 centuries, the mosque was closely adjoined. For ascent to the top of the minaret, there is a spiral internal staircase, consisting of 145 steps, the entrance to which is located at a height of 7 meters. The minaret is divided into 17 belts and is built of ceramic bricks and the upper part is decorated with ornaments. According to the scientists, the former height of the minaret was about 65 meters, i.e. the minaret had a roof. Cubic inscriptions have been preserved at the height of 7 meters. The external shape of the minaret and the method of brickwork speak of its construction in early times. The tallest minaret in Central Asia has endured not only destructive wars, but also natural disasters associated with earthquakes. It is a brilliant testimony to the extraordinary skill of the Urgench School of builders and architects.
Turabek Khanum Mausoleum
The ancient land, founded by the Oguz descendants, known under the name Koneurgench, whose history goes back many centuries, keeps many secrets that reveal the mysterious pages of the history of the Turkmen people. The traces of four gates erected from four sides of the city, which was densely populated, noisy, cheerful, full of unique and rare goods, as well as traces of the old walls of the ancient fortress, which absorbed from 10 to 14 centuries have retained their appearance until today. Inside the walls of the ancient fortress is a complex of monuments Turabek Khanum and in the north-west of the fortress a complex of monuments Najm ad Din al-Kubra. Turabek Khanum was a Mongolian princess, the favorite daughter of the ruler of the Golden Horde – Uzbek Khan and wife of his governor in Khorezm Kutlug-Timur. In time, she was canonized and declared a saint. There are many beautiful legends about this interesting and mysterious figure. One of them tells that Tyurabek-hanym promised to marry master Gulgardan, who fell in love with her, on one condition only: he must build for her the most beautiful building in the world. In addition, Gulgardan honestly fulfilled this condition. He built a remarkable mausoleum, which later became the tomb of kings of the Sufi dynasty and Turabek-hanym herself. It still amazes people with the precision of lines, richness of the interior decoration and beauty of multicolored ornaments. However, the proud beauty betrayed the naive young man and did not keep her word. Instead of a simple builder, she chose to marry Kutlug-Timur, the ruler of Khorezm. The deceived master could not endure the grief and threw himself down from the top of the mausoleum.
The Turabek Khanum’s mausoleum has a very unusual for Central Asian architecture composition, namely the three-part plan along the main axis. Behind a high and deep portal – a small domed room with three entrances. On the left is a small hijra, on the right – a spiral staircase and straight ahead – a vast hexagonal hall with an area of about 100 square meters. Along the same axis behind the hall is a small domed annex, now badly destroyed. A jeweled heart reveals the center of the dome in the form of a twelve-petal lush flower inscribed in a twenty-four-beam star. Blue, white, turquoise, black, green, yellow, red, and brown with gold create an unparalleled mosaic pattern of the dome. The variety of colors, thanks to the subtlety of the pattern and the overall blue background, creates a polychrome harmony and gives integrity to both the surface of the dome and the dome drum cut through by twelve lancet windows.
Najm ad Din al-Kubra Mausoleum
The mausoleum of Najm ad Din al-Kubra was erected approximately in 12-13 centuries, and has reached us almost intact. Najm ad Din al-in Kubra was the Muslim saint who has perished at hands of Mongolian – conquerors. After his death, a mausoleum was built on the cemetery, which is still a shrine, where pilgrims flock to today. The mausoleum of Najm ad Din al-Kubra consists of three parts: the actual tomb of the preacher and two small halls on the sides of the entrance. The door in a deep portal leads to a small square room, covered with a dome, which is the anteroom of the shrine or a kind of vestibule. The doors from it lead in three directions: straight ahead to the large square tomb of Najm ad-Din al-Kubra, to the left to a smaller square room with burials of unknown persons, and to the right to another similarly sized square room. All four rooms of the mausoleum, including the vestibule, are covered by domes of different sizes and together form a picturesque volumetric composition. The mausoleum is a three-domed portal structure whose tombstones were covered with polychrome glazed tiles with a rich floral and vegetal ornament and calligraphic script.
After many years of conquests and destruction, Koneurgench densely ceased to exist in the XVII century. Historical and cultural monuments of Turkmenistan, which are of historical and cultural value and constitute a huge contribution to world culture, are now the most visited places by tourists. The inscription of historical monuments of Koneurgench into the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2005 testifies to their great importance not only for the Turkmen people but also for all humanity.