Welcome to Taraz
Situated on the route from Tashkent and Shymkent to Bishkek and Almaty, Taraz (Тараз) is one of Kazakhstan’s oldest cities, going back 2000 years to a fortress built in the valley. In the 11th and 12th centuries it was a wealthy Silk Road stop and capital of the Turkic Karakhanid state, but it was comprehensively levelled by Chinggis (Genghis) Khan and effectively disappeared until the existing town was founded in the 19th century, as a northern frontier town of the Kokand khanate. Today it’s a pleasant, mostly Soviet-built place with leafy boulevards, a large ceremonial square surrounded by off-pink governmental buildings, one of Kazakhstan's best regional museums and a couple of medieval mausoleums.
The town has changed its name eight times; in Soviet times it was called Dzhambul, after the locally born Kazakh bard Zhambyl Zhabaev, and still appears as such on train timetables.