At the beginning of our era on the fertile lands, irrigated by the river, there sprang up the large trade-and-handicraft town Taraz. Up to the XIIth century it was the economic, cultural and political centre of medieval state of Karakhanidz. In 1220 Taraz was conquered by the hordes of Chingiz-Khan and was razed to the ground. At the end of XVIIIth century near the ruins of Taraz the Kokands built the fortress. At the beginning of XIXth century, not far from it, on the spot of ancient Taraz there took place the rapid development of the city named as Aulie-Ata (“ holy aged man”). Its first settlers were Uzbeks, those who came from Namangan.
The population of the town was occupied with handicraft and trade. Here at the spring fair there took place the exchange of hand-made goods and production of agriculture, with which there were occupied the settled inhabitants of oasis, to the products of animal-husbandry of Kazakhs-normads.
In 1864 Aulie-Ata entered the structure of Russia and was occupied with Russian forces. Through its territory there lay the route from Tashkent to Vernyi and Pishpek. The town was settled with Russian officials and service men. In the Russian part of the town there were about 2 dozens of small industrial enterprises on primary processing of raw materials produced by agriculture, mainly, wool-washing and tanning industries. At the beginning of XIXth century there existed one municipal and two parish schools and one Russian-Kazakh school. In the town there were more than 20 mosques and 3 churches.
In 1938 the town was renamed to Dzhambul after the name of the Kazakh poet Dzhambul Dzhabayev. On January 8, 1997 by the Decree of the President of Kazakhstan N.A.Nazarbayev the immemorial name – Taraz was given back to the town.
In the town itself there were located caravan-sarais, workshops of craftsmen, stores of merchants. Taraz achieved its violent growth in X-XIIth centuries, the testimony of which is the forked network of water pipes made of clay pipes, remains of architectural structures, pavements and paved streets, numerous hand-mades of skilful masters, which were found during excavations. The presence in the town of bath-house is referred to that time. The bath-house had inside fresco murals.
In the town there have been preserved two mausoleums reminding about ancient Taraz. One of them is Aulie-Ata of Karakhan which was built in XIth century above the grave of one of the rulers of Karakhanids’ dynasty. It presents portal-and-dome structure. Inside the mausoleum the walls are made of brick of Katakhanids’ period. There have been preserved the stepped gravestone.
The second small mausoleum of XIIIth century – Sha-Mansur was built above the grave of one of the viceroys of Mongol Khans who had been killed in 1262. It may be judged by the inscriptions preserved on the stone plate inside the mausoleum.
According to the reports of Arab historian-geographer Makdisi, at the end of Xth century Taraz represented the large fortified town with numerous gardens and densely populated.
Invasion of Tatars-Mongols at the beginning of XIIIth century was one of the reasons of Taraz’s downfall.
After the great geographical discoveries of XIVth century the ancient caravan route lost its importance and this fact brought the commercial towns standing on this way (including Taraz) to final downfall. There are two memorials located 18 km from Taraz which present particular interest for the scientists-researchers and tourists. They are situated not far from each other.
The first is mausoleum of Babadzha-hatun, which was built in XIth century, and it has the marquee dome of unique construction.
The second is mausoleum of Aisha-Bibi which dates from the XIIth century. It is the only in Kazakhstan unique memorial, entirely faced with carved terracotta with the richest ornamentation in the form of tiles with 60 kinds of patterns, cornices and styled inscriptions. Capitals and columns from terracotta blocks are covered as the entire wall with the thinest paintings, which present the richest composition of motives of folk ornament. On one of the corner towers of mausoleum there preserved the lines from the old distich: “Autumn… Clouds… The Earth is beautiful”.