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Mausoleum of Sultan SanjarDue to its size and historical value, the Ancient Merv is the one of the most important sites. It is situated in the lower reaches of the Murgab river. The historians of the past rewarded the Ancient Merv with magnificent epithets like "The Stronghold of the World", "The Dome of Islam", "The Spirits of Kings". Its upsurge took place in XI-XII centuries, at the time of the Great Seldjuks. The Seldjuk's Empire stretched from the Lower Amu-Darya to the Mediterranean sea. Under Seldjuks Merv occupied 640 hectares and was one of the most developed cities of its time. It attracted scientists and merchants from the Moslem world. In 1221 all settlements of Middle Asia were devastated by Mongolian hordes, and Merv was not an exception.

Ancient Mary is a series of towns that succeeded one another throughout the course of history: Erk Kala fortress citadel, Gyaur Kala, Sultan Kala, Abdullakhan Kala and Bayramalykhan Kala.

The oldest levels of civilization in Merv belong to Erk Kala fortress 6th c. BC, the time when this oasis was included into the Persian Akhamenid state. The town occupied an area of about 20 square hectares and it was surrounded by strong walls made of brick. The height of the fortress was 25 m.

Sultan Sanjar GalleryIn the fourth century BC Merv was conquered by Alexander the Great. At the end of the 4th c.BC Merv was included into the kingdom of Selevkids and the city of Antiochia was founded. The remains of Antiochia's walls were discovered about 30 km to the north of Ancient Merv. It also known under the name of Gyaur Kala. The fortress has a regular plan and perfectly aligned walls. Between the end of the IV and the beginning of the V c.c. the so-called "oval house" was erected in the north- eastern corner of Gyaur -Kala. It was a cloister of the local Christian community. In the second half of the 3d c. at the vast portion of the south - eastern corner of Gyaur Kala appeared a Buddhist worship complex, with a stupa (reliquary). After multiple reconstruction's the stupa had almost square platform (13X13X3), upon which the cylindrical stupa's body lowered with a large clay statue of Buddha standing before it. The mosque of Yusuf Khamadani /16 c./ is situated near Sultan Kala. Sheikh Abu Yakup Usuf lbn Hamadani lived in Merv (1048-1140) He belonged to a very popular Nakshbendi's school of suphism.

Large Gyz GalaLarge and Small Kiz-Kala (VI-VIIc.c. AD) is located to the west from Gaur-Kala. Large Kiz-Kala presents 42X37,2 m rectangular in plan. In the basis of architectural plan composition of this keshk there is a square inner yard (or possibly hall) surrounded by rooms situated in two levels. All its facades are shaped with semi-circle tower gofferings. This style was widely spread in architecture of Pre-Arabian times. That is the way of forming facades of near by Small Kiz-Kala. There is the same central (may be domed) room and the same rectan-gular but more regular rooms around it.

Abdullah-khan Kala: The walls of post-medieval Merv, known today as Abdullah-Khan Kala. Abdullah-Khan Kala is the smallest of the three cities, occupying only some 44 hectares. It was founded in 1409 by the Timurid rules Shakhruh and is located 3 km to the south of Sultan Kala. Like all the cities it was founded on a virgin site. The walls are rectangular in shape with large circular towers and some 44 additional towers. There was a large mosque and madrasa in the north part of the city. Like most of the cities of Merv and elsewhere, Abdullah Khan Kala had a citadel. The ruler's palace was sited in the citadel, together with a caravanserai and storerooms.

Peek through Sanjar's Hole The Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar: a magnificent architectural structure about which contemporaries wrote that its blue dome could be seen "a day ride away", was built in the middle of 12 century. It is an enormous 27X27 m cube which is crowned by a dome of 17,28 m in diameter.

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