|Region||Atyrau Region, Kazakhstan|
Saray-Jük (Сарай-Жүк) / Sarai-Dzhuk (Сарай-Джук) or Kishi Saray (Кіші Сарай) in the Kazakh language, Saraychyq (Сарайчык) in modern Tatar, and Saray Maly (Russian: Сара́й Ма́лый) literally "Little Sarai", to distinguish it from Old Sarai, was a medieval city on the border between Europe and Asia. It was located 50 km north Atyrau on the Ural River, near the modern village of Sarayshyq, Atyrau Province, Kazakhstan. The city lay on an important trade route between Europe and China and flourished between the 10th and 16th centuries.
Until recently it was believed that Saray-Jük was founded by Batu Khan, but archeological excavations have revealed that the city was founded as early as the 10th or 11th century. In the 13th century Saray-Jük became an important trade center and was one of the biggest cities of the Golden Horde. The ruins of the suburb Aqtöbe, located near Atyrau were preserved until the 20th century. The city had a ceramic water-pipe and both metallurgy and pottery were also developed. Neighboring populations were agriculturist or fishermen.
The Moroccan traveller, Ibn Battuta, passed though the town in around 1333 on his way from New Sarai to Delhi. At the time the river was spanned by a bridge of boats. While in the town Ibn Battuta sold his horses and purchased camels to draw his wagons on the next stage of his journey to Konye-Urgench. Neighborhoods of the city were a popular resort among the Golden Horde's nobility.
After the disintegration of the Golden Horde in the 14th century the city fell into decay: in 1395 it was ruined by Timur, but it was rebuilt in the 1430s-1440s. It remained the main city of the Nogai Horde. The Kazakh khan also had headquarters there later. In 1580 it was ruined by "thief Cossacks"—that is, Cossacks uncontrolled by Russian government.
The remains of buildings, workshops and others are situated at the bank of Ural River, which is washing away the ruins. In 1999 a memorial complex was established on the site by Kazakhstani authorities.
- (Tatar) "Sarayçıq/Сарайчык". Tatar Encyclopaedia. Kazan: The Republic of Tatarstan Academy of Sciences. Institution of the Tatar Encyclopaedia. 2002.
- "The ancient settlement Sarayshyk could disappear from the face of the earth in the coming years". History of Kazakhstan Project, Astana, Kazakhstan. 19 December 2013.