The minaret is located on the northwest side of the Tekesh mausoleum in Kunya-Urgench, Uzbekistan. Named after Qutlugh Timur (1321-1333), the governor of Khorezm for the Golden Horde Khanate, the minaret is all that remains of the city's original Friday Mosque complex. Based on archaeological evidence and material dating, Russian historians hypothesize that the construction of the minaret had started as early as the eleventh century under governor Abu-Abbas Mamun (1009-1017) and completed between 1321-1330 by Qutlugh Timur.
Built on a three-meter deep foundation, the minaret has survived many fires and earthquakes over its lifespan. It is presently sixty meters tall (originally sixty-five), with a base diameter of twelve meters that tapers to three meters at the top. Historians believe that the upper shaft, which is mostly destroyed, served as a lighthouse and watchtower in addition to being used for the prayer call. The structure is constructed and clad using mud brick, which is articulated in eighteen decorative bands separated by single courses of vertical bricks. Of the eighteen, there are three surviving inscriptive bands in Kufic style (originally six). First translated in 1928, the lowest inscriptive band attributes the minaret to Qutlugh Timur while the two upper bands are carved with Quranic verses. Only traces remain of the blue glazed tiled decoration.
The minaret is entered through an arched doorway on its west face, which is seven meters above the ground level and was accessed from an adjoining structure. The spiral stairwell has a hundred and forty five steps (to the top). Only the two doorways have remained of the balcony that was located at the height of fifty-one meters. The stairwell has no windows. Today, the minaret dangerously leans northwest towards the Tekesh Mausoleum. Although the site was recently landscaped, a structural repair of the structure and restoration initiative is in order.
Knobloch, Edgar. Monuments of Central Asia: A Guide to Archaeology, Art and Architecture of Turkestan, 85. New York: I. B. Tauris Publishers, 2001.
Sayan, Yüksel. Türkmenistan'daki Mimari Eserler (XI-XVI Yüzyil), 158-160, 447-540. Ankara: Kültür Bakanligi Yayinlari, 1999.