Not far from the modern Urgench there is the city Kunya Urgench (“Old Urgench”) on the territory of today’s Turkmenistan. Kunya Urgench was an important city on the Silk Road and lies near the old riverbed of the Amu Darya river. In the 16th century, the river changed its course and robbed the city of its livelihood. The population had to leave Kunya Urgench and founded Noviy Urgench at the new waterway of the Amu Darya in the 17th century.

Today, Urgench is a modern city with 170,000 inhabitants. For a long time, the town was relatively insignificant and only became a trading town due to its connection to the Trans Caspian Railway. Industrialization began during the Soviet era: cotton was the primary material used.

Urgench lies on the Shavat Canal, an irrigation canal that is of immense importance for the water supply of the province of Khorezm. Water is diverted from the Amu Darya and led over a distance of 160 km through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Rice and cotton cultivation, in particular, depends on irrigation through the canal.

Just west of the city centre, the Youth Park was opened on an island in the middle of an artificial lake. Among other things, you can see models of the most famous sights of Uzbekistan.

General information:

  • Population: 190, 000 (2019)
  • Elevation: 103 m

Famous personality:

Jalal ad-Din Manguberdi is the last Khorezm Shah of Turkic origin. He is a famous hero known for the ongoing struggle against the Mongols pushing to the west. In Urgench a statue in honour of Jalal ad-Din was erected. 

Abu RayhanAl-Biruni is a mathematician, astronomer, cartographer, historian and translator known in the East. Among other things, he translated numerous Greek and Arabic works into Sanskrit. Using a method he developed himself, he calculated the earth’s radius with fewer than 40 km error deviation. The Statue of Al-Biruni is placed in Urgench. 

Air connections: Urgench international airport offers flights to Russia and charter flights from Milan and Paris during the peak tourist season. Domestic flights are to Tashkent and sometimes to Bukhara.

Rail connections: The city has a train station with connections to the larger cities of Uzbekistan.

Bus connection: From Urgench there is a trolleybus line to Khiva, 35 km away.

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