The Abay Region, formed in June 2022, is one of the three most recently established regions. Its biggest city is Semey formerly known as Semipalatinsk. There are two more towns in the region: Kurchatov and Ayagoz. The former was a closed top-secret facility due to the development of nuclear weapons during Soviet times. Now, this city is one of the highlights of many tours around the Abay Region.
The region is named after the outstanding Kazakh poet, educator, and philosopher Abay Kunanbaev, who was born near the Zhidebay Tract south of the city of Semey. Now there is a Zhidebay-Borili Memorial Museum.
The Russian Geographical Society calculated the geographical midpoint of the Eurasian continent to be near the Abay Museum. There is a monument commemorating that fact.
Why is the Abay Region worth visiting?
Although the museum, the estate, and the mausoleum of Abay are the region's premier sights, they’re not the only places that attract tourists to this region. For example, to the west of Semey, lies the Semipalatinsk test site, where the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb. Now it is a popular object of the so-called dark tourism – traveling to places associated with death and tragedy.
Many travelers visit the Konyr-Auliye Cave, a popular pilgrimage site. This place is shrouded in legend and is considered sacred by the Kazakhs.
Semey is also known as the place of exile of novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. The «Crime and Punishment» writer spent five years of his life there. The city also has a Dostoevsky Museum, the only one in Kazakhstan and one of eight existing in the world.
This is not a complete list of places that may be of interest to travelers. The region is home to many «hidden treasures» – places that are not very popular among tourists yet but definitely deserve attention.
updated: 09 january 2023