Turkistan Hosts Tenth International Conference of Eurasian World Heritage Cities

NUR-SULTAN — The tenth International Conference of Eurasia World Heritage Cities named “Heritage, Tourism and Urban Planning” took place in Turkistan on April 2 virtually. City Mayor Rashid Ayupov noted the significance of the event on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Independence of Kazakhstan, according to the Turkistan region press-service. 

Photo credits: ovpm.org.

In February 2021, Turkistan was entered into the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC). Member cities proposed to organize a tenth anniversary conference in Turkistan, because it was admitted to the organization this year and was declared the spiritual capital of Turkic world at the informal summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states on March 31. 

“A sensational discovery has taken place concerning the chronology of Turkistan. In 2020, we launched the Stratigraphy of the Turkistan Settlement project and we examined the archaeological complexes of the ancient city. During the excavations, it was found that the initial appearance of a settlement in the area took place in the 16th-14th centuries. The Bronze Age complex found in the Sherbay necropolis located on the southern outskirts of the city determined the age of Turkistan to be three thousand years,” said Rashid Ayupov, akim (mayor) of the city of Turkistan. 

Ayupov noted the importance of the event, which is taking place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Independence of Kazakhstan.

Representatives from more than 55 cities and from 23 countries with extensive experience in preserving the historical and cultural remains of Iran, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Poland, Greece, Indonesia, Morocco, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, China and Germany took part in the conference.

The conference also included a virtual exhibition of World Heritage Cities moderated by the Development Director of the OWHC Secretariat for Euro-Asia Saida Zagidullina. During the exhibition, cities presented colorful photos of heritage sites and brief information on them. 

This exhibition was attended by Turkistan (Kazakhstan), Shakhrisabz (Uzbekistan), Sviyazhsk (Russia), Osh (the Kyrgyz Republic), Kazan (Russia), Novi Pazar (Serbia), Denpasar (Indonesia), Sheki (Azerbaijan), Nesvizh (Belarus) and Sezhou (China).

The conference addressed the issue of preserving ancient heritage and culture, the development of tourism, correct planning and improvement for the city, the preservation of its historical attractiveness while constructing new structures. 

Ayupov proposed expanding the areas of cooperation between member countries of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in tourism development (creation of joint tourist tours, increase direct flights), virtual tourism (joint virtual 3D tours, information support), educational exchange (sharing of experience with students studying in the field of tourism and culture) and humanitarian aid. 

All OWHC member countries and the regional coordinator of OWHC for Eurasia Rasikh Sagitov supported the initiative. 

As the outcome document of the Conference, the declaration calling for cooperation and unity of Eurasia World Heritage cities was announced.

The OWHC was established in 1993 in Fez, following the First International Symposium of World Heritage Cities which took place in 1991 in Québec. Currently more than 300 cities are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Turkistan has a 1500-year history. Turkistan is a pearl of the Great Silk Road, the land of mosques and madrasas, one of the most important centers of the Islamic pilgrimage in Central Asia. In 2003, the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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