The Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi in the city of Turkestan.

© Adil Abdrakhmanov/Getty Images/iStock

Yasaui Mausoleum

Top choice in Turkestan

This astoundingly beautiful, tiled mausoleum with a turquoise dome is home to Kozha Akhmed Yasaui. The main chamber is capped with an 18m-wide dome, above a vast, 2000kg, metal kazan (cauldron) for holy water, given by Timur, who had the tomb built in the 14th century. Yasaui’s tomb lies behind an ornate wooden door at the end of the main chamber: you can view it through grilles from corridors on either side.

The right-hand corridor contains the tomb of Abylay Khan, leader of Kazakh resistance to the Zhungars in the 18th century. Off the main chamber's far left corner is the mausoleum’s carpeted mosque, with a beautifully tiled mihrab (Mecca-facing niche). Except in the mosque, visitors to the mausoleum don’t usually remove shoes though women normally wear headscarves (available at the entrance).

The glorious blue, turquoise and white tiling on the outside of the building is the highlight for most and merits close inspection. Note the particularly lovely fluted rear dome, above Yasaui’s tomb chamber.

Yasaui’s original small tomb was already a place of pilgrimage before Timur ordered a far grander mausoleum built here in the 1390s. Timur died before it was completed and the main facade was left unfinished – today it remains bare of the beautiful tilework that adorns the rest of the building, with scaffolding poles still protruding.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Turkestan attractions

1. Mausoleum of Rabigha-Sultan Begum

0.07 MILES

This small building with a tiled turquoise dome is actually a replica of the 15th-century original (which was torn down in 1898). Rabigha-Sultan Begum was…

2. Hilvet Semi-Underground Mosque

0.12 MILES

On a small hill within the Yasaui Mausoleum grounds stands the low-slung 12th- to 15th-century Hilvet semi-underground mosque, with the cell to which…

3. Friday Mosque

0.12 MILES

This 19th-century mosque displays a wooden minbar and some religious items dating back to the time of its construction. The wall outside the mosque and…

4. History Museum

0.17 MILES

The History Museum, in the Yasaui Mausoleum grounds, focuses mostly on Kozha Akhmed Yasaui, Sufism and Islamic learning. There are models of the Yasaui…