If I'm honest, this place is a bit out of the way. Shymkent is 6+ hours by train from Almaty and Turkestan is 2 1/2 hours further north-west in a very warm minibus. The only sensible reason to make the trip is if one is on the way to the Kazakh-Uzbek land border. Which I suppose I am.
This mausoleum in Turkestan was built in honour of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, a poet and Islamic philosopher, by Timur the Conqueror who was thought to have greatly admired Yasawi's work. The present structure is actually built over a smaller, existing tomb of Yasawi, which Timur obviously thought didn't justify the man's many achievements. Outside of Samarkand (Timur's capital), this structure is widely regarded as one of the best preserved buildings of the Timurid Dynasty. What makes it interesting to me is its half-completed state. The construction of the building was halted after Timur's death in 1405 and some of the scaffolding and bare brick-work was left exposed and is preserved today in its original state.
If the structure had been completed, it would be covered in the gorgeous mosaic which adorn the rest of the exterior. But somehow, I think that the half-and-half nature makes it even more appealing. The mausoleum's dome, measuring 18 metres in diameter, is the largest of its kind in Central Asia. Pretty outstanding for something constructed 700 years ago. The building also houses the tombs of several hundred Islamic scholars and disciples of Yasawi. It was recognised as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2003 and receives about a million visitors a year.
Some photos of the structure:
Bottom photo: The unfinished front gateway with 14th century scaffolding still exposed.