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Destination Details

Turkmenistan
Tags : Boldumsaz

Around 28km from Dashoguz, you pass through a gate into Boldumsaz District, this gate too offering you a cheery English-language 'welcome'. Two kilometres further on, to the north of the road and clearly visible from it, the fortress of Boldumsaz makes a square plateau, standing proud above the surrounding fields. Some historians identify this place with the medieval town of Nyzvar, though this attribution is disputed. Destroyed by the Mongols, the place was later resettled, now known by its present name, which scholars believe to mean 'Fortress in a Marshy Place'.

A local legend offers a more colourful explanation of how the fortress received its name. A khan of Khiva determined to build the tallest and most beautiful minaret in the world (different versions of the legend place this at Khiva or Konye-Urgench). The khan engaged a fine architect to build it. The minaret duly took shape, the architect remaining at the top of this growing structure day and night as he toiled on his masterpiece. The khan, however, was not a nice man, and decided that, on completion of the minaret, he would have the architect killed, so that he would be unable to build so beautiful a structure for anyone else. The architect's assistant overheard the khan's plotting, and etched a message of warning to the architect on a brick. The resourceful architect sent down for the materials he needed to fashion a pair of wings and, on completion of the minaret, flew from the top to evade the khan's men. The architect landed at this fortress, exclaiming as he touched the ground: 'Safe and sound!' The name 'Boldumsaz' is apparently an approximation of the latter expression in Turkmen, and the fortress has been so named ever since. Locals say that an owl seen flying over the ruins of the fortress in the evening is the architect's ghost.

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