Atyrau, Kazakhstan

Atyrau is a city that stands right on the border of Europe with Asia. This symbolic border for many years passed along the bridge over the Ural River. And although today geographers dispute such a division, the townspeople are still proud of their privileged position as residents of two continents. And guests of the city, of course, are in a hurry to take pictures at the memorial sign.

In general, the appearance of Atyrau is chaos and anarchy, where you can find side by side centennial buildings and the latest shopping centers and hotels.

How to get to Atyrau

Atyrau has an international airport, and from Moscow you can get here in about two and a half hours. The airport also receives flights from St. Petersburg (5 and a half hours on the way). You can get to Atyrau and from the capital, Astana, for example, on a recently launched high-speed train (journey time – 23 hours).┬áCheck jibin123 for customs regulations and visa requirements of Kazakhstan.

A bit of history

Stone buildings appeared on the site of present-day Atyrau in the middle of the 17th century. Then the town was called Yaitsky in honor of the Yaik River, which flowed into the Caspian here. Stenka Razin was also noted in Atyrau, and after the Pugachev uprising, the river under Catherine II was renamed the Urals. The city was renamed much later, in the 19th century, and called Guryev. The old fortress was destroyed at the beginning of the 19th century, and after the restructuring, the city received its current name. Once Atyrau stood right on the seashore, but over the years the Caspian became shallow and today it is separated from the city limits. One way or another, before the war, fish canning plants were built here, and later oil refineries: there were enough jobs in Atyrau for everyone. Moreover, builders from the whole Union also came here: in Soviet times, the Caspian regions were actively settled and exploited.

Entertainment and attractions of Atyrau

Historically, the river that flows through the whole of Atyrau divided the city in half into “European” and “Asian” parts. Initially, the European part flourished and developed: churches and residential buildings for wealthy citizens were built here. And today in the city you can see these two-story merchant dwellings, the lower one made of stone, the upper one made of wood, and the poorer ones made of clay (adobe). Then the Asian half began to catch up and overtake the neighbor: industrial buildings and enterprises were erected here. But in general, the appearance of Atyrau is chaos and anarchy, in which you can find side by side century-old buildings, and the latest shopping centers and hotels. Which, however, testifies to the rapid and dynamic development.

Timur Bekmambetov was born in Atyrau.

Far from being the most beautiful, but very significant attraction of Atyrau is a border sign with a small gazebo, which stands on the European coast of the Urals. The current state of affairs with the border did not always exist. Soviet scientists believed that this border runs clearly along the Ural River. In 2010, this version was recognized as not the most successful by the employees of the Russian Geographical Society: presumably, the border should still be to the south, and thus Atyrau is still located entirely in Europe. The International Geographical Union has so far refrained from making any assessments on this score. One way or another, the main bridge in Atyrau to this day remains one of the focal sights of the city: after all, as it was believed, it was it that connected the two continents.

2 things to do in Atyrau:

  1. Stand with one foot on one continent and the other on the next.
  2. See the newest monument of Atyrau, erected in honor of Khiuaz Dospanova, the heroic pilot of the Second World War, whose fate was somewhat similar to the fate of A. Maresyev.

The pedestrian bridge of Atyrau is also quite interesting. This is the longest pedestrian bridge across the Urals, and for this reason it was even awarded an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. The length of the bridge exceeds 550 m, and the engineering idea that resulted in it is truly amazing: such structures were not made anywhere in the Union (and still are not). The task during the construction of the bridge was in such a way as not to block the shipping route and not spoil the spawning of sturgeon, which went upstream in the spring. Therefore, the bridge was made suspended, fixing its central part on a metal cable.

There are only 8 bridges in Atyrau, of which one is exclusively for railway and one is for pedestrians only.

And one of the really most beautiful buildings in the city is the Imangali Mosque, on Satpayev Street. The diameter of its main blue dome is 7 m and the height is 23 m. The mosque is decorated with symmetrical paired minarets of 26 m in height, and it can simultaneously accommodate 700 believers (600 men and 100 women).

Another significant religious city building is the Assumption Cathedral, built in the second half of the 19th century. It is a brick building with characteristic gilded onion domes, the main one reaching a height of 40 m.

In the Historical Museum of Atyrau, you can get acquainted not only with the history of the region since the 12th century, but also with the Kazakh culture. In particular, here you can see a fully equipped real yurt, ancient weapons of the 12th-18th centuries, figurines and household items. One of the pearls of the museum is a jug dug out in Saraichik at the beginning of the 20th century: you can still read verses of the 13th century written in Turkish on it. And one of the most recent finds transferred to the museum is the Sarmatian Golden Man from the burial place of the 2nd century BC. e. Also in the expositions of the museum – Kazakh folk jewelry of the 18th-19th centuries, silver, with gilding and inlaid with gems; ancient costumes, personal khan’s Horde seals, etc.

There is also an art museum named after Shaimardan Sariev, a famous Kazakh artist, in Atyrau. The museum’s collection contains about 1200 exhibits, mostly works of art by local authors.

Neighborhood of Atyrau

The ancient settlement of Saraichik (Sarayshik) is located about a quarter of an hour’s fast drive from Atyrau, 50 km from the city in the village of the same name in the Makhambet district. This is one of the most significant historical monuments of the country. It is believed that it was in Saraichik that the roots of the Kazakh horde arose. This happened in the 13th century, when the city was captured by Genghis Khan, followed by Batu. Already in the next century, trade and crafts began to flourish in the city: the city stood in the way of trade caravans. Today, the architectural and historical complex in Saraichik includes the pantheons of the seven khans who ruled the city from the middle of the 13th century to the middle of the 16th century, a mosque and an archaeological museum.

Another interesting place in the Atyrau region, where you can go on an excursion, is the chalk cliffs of Mount Akkeregeshin. Limestone deposits here form bizarre and partly even otherworldly pictures, and the impression is enhanced by silence and desertion. In the Cretaceous sediments one can see traces of primitive invertebrates and ammonites; it happened that fragments of skeletons of dinosaurs and prehistoric marine mammals were also found here.

Atyrau, Kazakhstan