Shakhrisabz (Uzbek: Шаҳрисабз Shahrisabz; Tajik: Шаҳрисабз; Persian: شهر سبز, romanized: shahr-e sabz: "city of green" / "verdant city"; Russian: Шахрисабз) is a district-level city in Qashqadaryo Region in southern Uzbekistan. The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) has selected Shakhrisabz as its tourism capital for 2024.
It is located approximately 80 km south of Samarkand, at an altitude of 622 m. Its population is 140,500 (2021). Historically known as Kesh or Kish, Shahrisabz was once a major city of Central Asia and was an important urban center of Sogdiana, a province of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. It is primarily known today as the birthplace of 14th-century Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur.
Formerly known as Kesh or Kish ("heart-pleasing") and tentatively identified with the ancient Nautaca, Shahrisabz is one of Central Asia’s most ancient cities. It was founded more than 2,700 years ago and formed a part of the Achaemenid Empire or Persia from the 6th to 4th centuries BC. Throughout this period Kesh remained an important urban center of Sogdiana, a major province within the Empire. Documents from the late Achaemenid period speak of the renovation of the city's walls. It has been known as Shahrisabz since the Timurid era.
Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy captured the satrap of Bactria and pretender to the Persian throne, Bessus, at Nautaca thus ending the once great Achaemenid Empire. Alexander the Great chose to spend his winters and met his wife Roxanna in the area in 328-327 BC. Between 567 and 658 AD rulers of Kesh paid taxes to khagans of Turkic and Western Turkic khaganates. In 710 the city was conquered by the Arabs and following the Mongol conquest of Khwarezmia in the 13th century, the region came under the control of the Barlas tribe, all of whose lineages seem to have been associated with this region.
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