Primarily an industrial city, Taraz (formerly called Zhambyl), 300 mi/485 km west of Almaty, has several interesting sites. The Kara Khan Mausoleum and the Shamansur Mausoleum are both nearly 1,000 years old and have interesting terra-cotta exteriors, carved to make the buildings look as if they were woven from straw.

The city's central Dostyk (Friendship) Square is encircled by a collection of bright pink-colored government buildings, the Drama Theatre and the Historical Museum, which are the primary points of interest.

The mausoleums of Aisha Bibi and Babadzha Khatun are located 11 mi/18 km from Taraz and are both included in the UNESCO list of architectural treasures. One of the few remaining examples of pre-Mongol architecture, the sacred stone monuments were built in the 11th and 12th centuries in honor of Aisha, the beautiful bride of the Karakhanid Dynasty ruler.

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