Otrar, or Utrar, was an ancient city in southern Kazakhstan. It was the birthplace of the philosopher and mathematician Al-Farabi and among the most celebrated cities along the Silk Road during its heyday. It is thought that it was founded as early as second century BC at the time of the Kang-yu confederation.

Otrar reached its zenith between the 10th and 12th centuries, when it was a major trading centre, minted its own coins and had a library that attracted scholars from all over Central Asia.

In 1219, Otrar was the first city to fall to the Mongol warrior Genghis Khan, although its conquerors recognised the value of its strategic location and it flourished nonetheless.

In the winter of February 1405, the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) died in one of Otrar’s palaces after catching the flu.

Otrar has been on UNESCO’s Tentative List of World Heritage since 1998.