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Toprak kala

Toprak kala (Uzbekistan)

Practical information on Toprak kala

  • Desert
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Archaeological Site
  • Museums
  • Place or Historical Monument
3 / 5 - 2 reviews
How to get there
90 minutes by plane to Urgench
When to go
Avoid the summer.
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Toprak kala

Timothée D. Seasoned Traveller
285 written opinions

This historic, ruined city dates from the first to sixth centuries, and Toprak Kala bears witness to the glory of the Khwārezm culture.

My suggestion:
The Ayaz Kala camp is located just outside the historic site, an represents a good option for traditional accommodation in a yurt.
My review

The site of Toprak Kala was once the magnificent capital of the Khwārezm kingdom in the first few centuries AD, and traces of its glory days can still be discovered by visitors, from the walls of the fortress, the ruins of the palace, and a number of different mausoleums. Located in the hard-to-reach province of Karakalpakstan, Toprak Kala is surrounded by dry, arid plains that make the site itself even harder to reach, meaning that summertime visits can become almost unbearable due to the heat.

Personally, I wasn't particularly impressed by the site itself, as it is not very well preserved. I find that Uzbekistan is bursting with stunning historic sites that are much more worthy of a visit than Toprak Kala. For this reason, I wouldn't necessarily recommend Toprak Kala for your journey to Uzbekistan.

Seasoned Traveller
32 written opinions

If you visit Khuvaduring your stay in Uzbekistan, make sure that you plan a visit to the Toprak Kala Citadel. The site, and the views, are well worth the effort.

My suggestion:
Allow at least a full hour for your visit to Toprak Kala, and don't forget to spend time exploring the surrounding area as well, not least so that you can see the fortress from different perspectives.
My review

I started my trip to Uzbekistan by visiting Khiva. The car journey to the Kalas was therefore my first sight of the surrounding landscape: the Amu Darya River, the cotton fields that extend as far as the eye can see, and the gradual progression of the Kyzyl Kum Desert (its name means 'red sand').

The Toprak Kala fortress finally began to come into view, and it was much more impressive than I had ever imagined it might be. The terracotta fortress takes the form of a rectangle that measures 350 meters by 500 meters. Constructed in the first century BC, it would go on to become the capital of the region around the third century, before being abandoned by its inhabitants in the sixth century. I was quite shocked by how well preserved it was, given that it is two thousand years old and tourists wander freely throughout the premises. The structure of the city's houses and courtyards, and some decorative details, are still clearly visible.

Nonetheless, it is still worth hiring a guide when visiting the site, as that is the only way to get an explanation of everything that you see. The visit was absolutely fascinating, and if it piques your interest you can go on to explore two other citadels, at Ayaz Kala and Kyzil Kala.