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) in Russian, literally "Little Sarai", to distinguish it from Old Sarai, was a medieval city on the border between Europe and Asia in the 10th-16th centuries. It was located on the Ural River, modern Kazakhstan, Atyrau Province, near Sarayshyq village, 50 km above Atyrau. There was a major trade route from Europe to China across the city.
It was believed till recently that Saray-Jük was founded by Batu Khan, but excavations uncovered that it was founded as early as in the 10th or 11th century. In the 13th Saray-Jük turned into a major trade center. After the disintegration of the Golden Horde in the 14th century the city fell into decay: in 1395 it was ruined by Timur, but Saray-Jük was rebuilt in the 1430s-1440s. However, it stayed 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.
Saray-Jük was one of the biggest cities of the Golden Horde, a center of a metropolitan agglomeration: the ruins of the suburb Aqtöbe, located near Atyrau were preserved until the 20th century.
The city had a ceramic water-pipe and metallurgy and pottery were also developed. Neighboring populations were agriculturist or fishermen. Ibn Battuta visited Saray-Jük in 1334 and reported about ferries across the Uly-sû canal. Neighborhoods of the city were a popular resort among the Golden Horde's nobility.
The remains of buildings, workshops and others are situated at the bank of Ural River, which wash away the ruins. In 1999 a memorial complex was established there by Kazakhstani authorities.
- (Tatar) "Sarayçıq/Сарайчык". Tatar Encyclopaedia. Kazan: The Republic of Tatarstan Academy of Sciences. Institution of the Tatar Encyclopaedia. 2002.