The city of
Uzgen is an old city and was once a major trading point on the Great
Silk Road – and claims to be one of only two cities in
Kyrgzstan that has an enjoyed an interupted existence from its
foundation (over 2000 years ago) to the present day.
ancient city of Uzgen was located on a high bank of the Kara-Darya
river and consisted of three shakhristans, of which only hills and
ruined walls remain. However, an 11th century minaret survives and
three mausoleums dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, making it one
of the unique architectural sites of medieval Central Asia.
The Uzgen Minaret is vertical and consists of three parts: the lower
part is an octahedron 5 m high; the middle part is in the form of a
tapering cylinder; and the upper part is a lantern built in 1923
to1924, with a cupola and arched windows. The minaret is 27.5 m high.
The diameter of the lower part is 8.5 m, and the upper part 6.2 m. The
minaret was made of brick. One of the faces of the base has a lancet
arched door leading to the spiral staircase, lit by two narrow windows.
The cylindrical part is decorated with 11 ornamented belts, the narrow
ones decorated with embossed patterns. Because the ornamentation is
artistically and technically more diverse than that of the Burana Tower
in the Chui oblast it is thought that the Uzgen minaret was built later
than its northern relative.
Near the minaret are three
mausoleums built in a line. These are known as the Northern, Middle and
The Middle Mausoleum was the first to be built, in the early 11th
century (1012 to 1013). According to some sources, it was built in
honour of Karakhanid Nasr ibn Ali. It takes the form of a square,
measuring 11.3 m by 11.4 m - the interior measures 8.5 m by 8.5 m - and
is 13 m high. The mausoleum is built of fired brick and it is richly
decorated with figured brick work and carved ornaments in alabaster
plaster. It is possible to count about 12 ornamental geometrical and
vegetation motifs. There are columns in the corners and it has four
doorways, three of which are actual doorways. The western facade is in
the form of a portal with a door in a deep niche. The niche is topped
with a lancet arch supported by columns. The niche is 3.8 m wide and
about 7 m high, and is framed with decorative strips.
The Northern Mausoleum was built in 1152 to1153, a date that was
determined in the 1920s from an analysis of the inscriptions found on
the mausoleum. According to some sources, it was intended as the burial
place of Klich-Burhan-Khan, and his father and mother, but according to
other data it is the burial place of Ilchi-Mazi-Sultan. However an
inscription tells that the Mausoleum was built in honour of
Jalal-ad-dinual-Husein. It is square in shape measuring 10.2 m by 12.2
m, (the interior is 7.5 m by 7.5 m) and is built of brick. Inside there
are two columns supporting the cornice on both sides of the portal,
decorated with a rhombic pattern of brickwork. In addition to the
decorative brickwork and alabaster carvings, there are also terracotta
tiles with various forms of ornamentation and carved Arabic
The Southern Mausoleum was built in 1186 to1187, (a date also
determined from analysis of the inscriptions), but it is not known to
whom it is dedicated. It is much smaller than its neighbours although
it is also square in shape with the interior measuring 6.4 m by 6.4 m.
The portal resembles that on the Northern Mausoleum, but the decor is
different. Here different sizes of terracotta tiles were used with
inscriptions implemented in "kufi" and "nash" handwriting with
arabesque "islimi", ornaments of stars and crosses filled with winding
rods of grapes.