Have you ever heard of the Silk Road? I bet you have. But do you know that Kyrgyzstan was part of the Silk Road and that Tash Rabat, located at an altitude of 3,200 meters, 520 km away from Bishkek, used to serve travellers as a caravanserai. Among all the monuments of medieval architecture in Central Asia, there is nothing like the stone fortress Tash-Rabat, hidden in the remote valley Kara-Cajun, surrounded by snow-capped peaks of the mountain ranges of Central Tien Shan near the border between Kyrgyzstan and China.
It’s true that Tash-Rabat is one of the most well-preserved places on the Silk Road, and nowhere else can you feel the atmosphere of those adventurous times. Tash-Rabat, a unique and great place made of stone, is believed to be a key point on the way through Tien Shan, from and back to China, as it not only provided shelter for merchants but also protected them from robbers and harsh weather.
The date it appeared is unknown, but some resources provide reasons to believe that it was built in the 15th century. There is a beautiful valley 15km above by the Tian-Shan and it used to be a place for rest and worship.
According to legend, the caravanserai was built by a father and son. When they had almost finished the job, there was only one thing left to do, only a few stones to place, to move the dome to the top of Tash-Rabat. In that moment, they saw a caravan coming down the mountain. The son ran to welcome the travellers, but his father said: “Let’s finish the job first!”. However, the young man didn’t listen to his father and went to greet the merchants. Among the travellers he saw a beautiful young girl with whom he fell in love. When the caravan departed the son went away with them and never returned. That’s the reason why the dome was never finished.
Historians and archaeologists have not yet agreed who, when and for what purpose Tash-Rabat was built, the largest and most complex stone structure from the Gobi Desert to the Caspian Sea.
Come see how the first rays of sunlight falling onto the valley immediately light up and warm its majestic facade at the same time creating a circulation of warm air jets under the stone arches of the building, and during the winter all thirty side chambers and the central hall are warmed from a fire in the middle. Another interesting fact to know is that under the fortress you can find a labyrinth (maze) of underground passages and a dungeon – underground prison.
Tash-Rabat is another must see place, where you can not only visit the fortress but also enjoy horse riding and stay the night at nearby yurtas.