Home to peoples of many ethnic backgrounds, Almaliq earned its name from its many crab apple trees, called “almaliq” by the native inhabitants. Almalik was a medieval city in northwest China’s Ili river basin, near the Kazakhstan-Chinese border.  Though Almaliq was a thriving city during the Mongol era, not much remains of the town today.

One of the Karluk states, it was part of the Kara-Khanid Khanate, which occupied northern Persia and Central Asia, from the ninth century until it was subdued by the Mongols in the early 1200’s. In the 10th century, a Mongolic tribe displaced the Tukic inhabitants, replacing them with Mongols. This led to the eventual conquest of the city two centuries later.

Upon the first Mongol invasions, the region voluntarily submitted to become a Mongol vassal state, though they retained their autonomy. Soon this changed as well. In 1211, in the face of oncoming Mongol armies, Prince Ozar of Almaliq surrendered to Genghis Khan, but was soon assassinated by Karakitai Muslims unhappy with his surrender. Genghis Khan ordered that Ozar’s son, Siknak Tekin, become king of Almaliq. Genghis Khan also established allegiance by giving Siknak Tekin his eldest granddaughter as a wife. This tactic worked – 8 years later when Genghis Khan invaded Persia, Siknak Tekin accompanied him.

Following the division of the Mongol Empire into the sub khanates of Genghis Khan’s descendants, Almaliq became part of the Chaggatai Khanate. During this time the former Karluk Empire faded into history, but its language became the lingua-franca of Timur Leng’s Empire. Almaliq became an important center for Muslims and Nestorian Christians during this time, and it continued to be so for centuries. Long after the Mongol Empire had disintegrated, the Indian Moghul Empire, which claimed roots in the Mongols and Timur Leng, established an Islamic base in Almaliq. The tomb of Moghul khan, Tughluq Temur, is still in Almaliq today.

During Mongol rule, Almaliq became a popular rest stop for Persian and Chinese travelers due to its central location. The famous Chinese journeyer Chang Chun visited Almaliq and included it in his narrative of his travels.

Tomb of Tughluq Temür

The Tomb of Tughluq Temür in Almaliq.

The Yakxamba Bazaar on an off-day, located were Almaliq is class=

The Yakxamba Bazaar on an off-day, located were Almaliq is thought to have stood.