Sayram city is one of the most ancient treasuries of cultural heritage of Kazakhstan. It’s 3000 years old and you won’t be able to find it on a map.
As you may know, Central Asian history revolves around oasis. Each oasis included a number of cities; there was always the ruling one. Sayram was a major city of oasis Shymkent is located in today. The firsy mentions of the ancient city appeared in 629 in travel notes of Chinese monk. The first name of Sayram was Isfijab. When the city was ruled by the Arabs it was known as “Nest of Saints”; the reason to such strange name is that the majority of famous spiritual Muslim mentors and missioners come from Sayram. Famous Ahmed Yasawi – the most influential Islamic figure in Central Asia, whose tremendous mausoleum is the most famous monument in Turkestan, was born in there.
Isfijab or Sayram was considered a starting point to all trade paths of the Great Silk Road in Kazakhstan. The majority of populations consisted of craftsmen. Everything what was produced in Isfijab was of the highest quality and was valued in every corner of the world. The city was known for its textile and colorful bazaars. Here and there you’ll find historical monuments, but the most significant ones are minaret Bazalak-Ata, mausoleums that are connected to Ahmed Yasawi, and places of worship that were built after the Dzhungar invasion. This fabulous city was razed to the ground by Genghis-khan in 1221, but managed to revive. The city kept on existing as a part of different khanates and lost its significance under the rule of the Russian Empire; it’s when Shymkent stepped into light. You might think that Sayram became abandoned, but you’ll be wrong. The treasury of cultural heritage of Kazakhstan was given chance to develop slowly but surely. It didn’t have to go through rebellions of Kazakh against the Russians. Today it’s a strange and colorful place; all its roads lead to bazaars and there’re dozens of sacred Muslim monuments all over the city.