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Cultural Landscape of Ulytau

Date of Submission: 25/08/2021
Criteria: (v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Kazakhstan to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Karaganda Region; Ulytau District
Coordinates: N48 65 E67 02
Ref.: 6560

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The Ulytau Mountains is situated in the semi-desert area of Central Kazakhstan on the territory of the Karaganda Region. This territory was populated around the middle of the fourth millennium BC; during the Bronze Age and Iron Age, it was the area of formation of several nomadic cultures in the central part of Eurasia. In the Middle Ages, the site gained a huge symbolic importance for the Turkic communities of the region of Dasht-i-Kipchak, and became the political centre of Ogouz and Kipchak states. After the Mongol invasion, Ulytau became the burial ground for the descendants of Genghis Khan and the rulers of the Golden Horde, and after the political centre of Kazakh khans. Starting from the beginning of the XX century and until our days the Ulytau burial grounds of prominent historical and saint figures are the objects of pilgrimage.

As a result, the historical and cultural heritage of Ulytau is the sacral area and historical open-air museum, where nature, architectural and archaeological components form the unique landscape.

The territory of the property corresponds to the territory of the National Historical, Cultural and Natural Museum-Reserve of Ulytau founded in 1990 and covering 25 complexes on the area of 147246000 ha.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The cultural landscape of Ulytau includes the ancient settlements, fortresses, towers, burial mounds, mausoleums and rock art sites. All of them represent the different phases of the outstanding human interactions with the natural environment around the cultural heritage sites. In the later period, these interactions took the form of sacralization of the local cultural heritage sites especially the burials of the ancient rulers and surrounding natural landscape by local communities. Altogether they represent an outstanding testimony of human interaction together with the local natural landscape.

Criterion (v): In the modern Kazakhstan Ulytau is undoubtedly considered as one of the most outstanding examples of human interaction with the natural environment. All historical and cultural heritage sites were harmoniously incorporated in the surrounding natural landscape to form a unique complex, which became the place of attraction of the active modern pilgrimage.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity


The authenticity of the cultural landscape of Ulytau can be potentially disturbed by the installation of the huge modern information panels that disharmonize the landscape, and a large number of visitors, as their number becomes more and more significant every year. Luckily these factors could be easily minimized by the installation of the smaller information panels, their incorporation in the local cultural and natural landscape, and effective management of the traffic of visitors and regular monitoring of the state of conservation of every cultural component implemented by the National Historical, Cultural and Natural Museum-Reserve of Ulytau.


As the proposed property corresponds to the territory of the National Historical, Cultural and Natural Museum-Reserve of Ulytau, it guaranties its integrity, as well as its protection and management.

Comparison with other similar properties

The cultural landscape of Ulytau has numerous similarities with the cultural landscape of the Orkhon Valley, which was inscribed in the World Heritage List by Mongolia in 2004. Both cultural landscapes include the burial mounds made during the period of major nomadic states of the medieval period and numerous sites representing the cultural heritage of local populations. These similarities demonstrate as well that the Cultural Landscape of Ulytau has the potential for the eventual inscription in the World Heritage List.