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Mausoleum of Nedjmeddin Kubra

A short walk to the west, along a fenced path through the graveyard, brings you to an attractive ensemble of buildings. The most important is the Mausoleum of Nedjmeddin Kubra, the founder of the Kubravid school of Sufism, who was born in Khiva in 1145, and died here at the hands of the Mongols in 1221. The sacred Nejameddin Kubra Mausoleum is the most important of a small cluster of sights near the middle of the town and is the holiest part of Konye-Urgench.

The 14th-century mausoleum has a delightful portal, with blue and turquoise tiles in geometric, floral and calligraphic designs. Local guides will tell you that the outward lean of the portal is not a sign of future collapse, but a deliberate architectural feature, to symbolise the building bowing down in prayer. Let us hope they are right. Nedjmeddin Kubra's tomb itself is in two parts: the larger for his body, the smaller one for his head, which was separated by the Mongols. The tombs are covered with fine majolica tile-work, but this is covered over by velvet cloths. The mausoleum is a major place of pilgrimage: visitors circle it three times, touching the walls and then their foreheads while reciting prayers, before entering.