The Mongol invasion in the early 13th century led to utter destruction of the few settlements and a near complete massacre of the civilian population. As a result of Genghis Khan’s foray and its nomadic history most of Central Asia is lacking sites of historical interest.
After the historical overload of Turkey, Georgia and Armenia this lack of sites left us wandering what there was to see in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. With one exception in Kazakhstan it wasn’t until we reached southern Uzbekistan that we encountered any buildings of historical significance.
The Kalân Minaret, also known as ‘The Tower of Death’ due to criminals being executed by being thrown to their death from the top is probably one of the most impressive. With 10 metre foundations, including stacked reeds as primitive earthquake proofing, the tower reaches skyward for an impressive 45½ metres, an impressive feat of engineering for 1127. Genghis Khan was so thunderstruck by it’s enormity that he spared it from destruction.
Kalân Mosque at the base of the tower is able to accommodate 12 thousand people, reinforcing the importance and size of the city. During Soviet times the building was used as a warehouse, it reopened as a place of worship in 1991.