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Otrar Ancient City


Silk Road Ruins

Taking a lonely road west from Shymkent towards Turkistan, there lies an expansive ghost town - a glimpse of its former splendor and now nothing but crumbling ruins. This is Otrar, the infamous Silk Road city in nowadays southern Kazakhstan, once one of the most important outposts in this whole region until it’s sudden destruction. Located near the Syr Darya River, Otrar was an oasis town that benefited heavily from the trade networks from China to the west.

In the 13th century, a Mongolia caravan of over 400 people were seized by the leaders of Otrar, and its merchants executed. Infuriated, Genghis Khan sent three more ambassodors to punish those responsible to the tragedy, but they themselves were also killed. At this point, Genghis Khan felt no mercy for this wealthy city, and turned the full force of his dreaded cavalry army on the kingdom. Therefore in 1219, thousands of Mongol forces surrounded and laid siege to Otrar's towering walls. Wave after wave of attack met stiff resistance until food and water became scarce. After withstanding five months of bombardment from attacks, the city finally fell to the relentless Mongol assault. And since that day, Otrar never recovered. Walking around today, the legacy of the city still echoes in the fragmented ruins.


Use the interactive map to also discover nearby treasures.



In remote southern Kazakhstan, between the large cities of Turkistan and Shymkent.


The City was established over 2,000 years ago, when it was known as Kangj, followed by Farab, until it's demise in the 13th century.


A city built to profit from the lucrative trade routes that passed throughout Eurasia, blossoming to one of the largest cities in the region.


Though the site lies in complete ruins, some parts have been rebuilt, such as the front entrance. An small entrance fee is collected, and visitors are free to explore as wanted.


Otrar Ancient City

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Silk Road Ruins


Nearby Treasures:

     ➨  Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi - 50 km away

Read the Story:

     ➨  Step by Steppe - Kazakhstan and the Silk Road

Step Onto the Silk Roads:

     ➨  Turkistan

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