History of the second capital

Kyzylorda, situated along the banks of the Syrdarya River in the southwest of Kazakhstan, is the administrative center of the Kyzylorda region. The city's name, "Kyzylorda," translates to "Red Capital." In 1925, the city assumed the honorary status of the capital of the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. However, it held its position for only two years before the transfer of the capital to Almaty.

The city's roots trace back to 1817-1820 when it was initially a fortress named Ak-Mosque under the Kokand Khanate. Before the Kokands, diverse tribes inhabited the region, leaving behind archaeological treasures like the ruins of Chirik-Rabat, Zhankent, Altyn-Asar, and Sighnaq. In 1862, the fortress was renamed to Fort Perovsky in honor of General V.A. Perovsky, who led the city's capture in the mid-19th century. Upon assuming the capital status, it acquired the name Kzyl-Orda. The name was updated to the current spelling, Kyzylorda, in 1997 to align with the Kazakh language transcription.

During the mid-19th century, the former capital saw significant developments, including the establishment of primary schools, a brick factory, a windmill, and various shops and workshops. The early 20th century brought further progress with the addition of a railway station and depot in 1905.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Kyzylorda became a haven for those repressed and deported from regions like Belarus, Ukraine, Crimea, the North Caucasus, and the Primorsky Territory. Proximity to the Baikonur Cosmodrome makes Kyzylorda a destination for tourists interested in space exploration.

What is Kyzylorda known for?

The city is renowned for its abundance of mineral resources. Its mining and metallurgical industry extracts zinc, lead, uranium, vanadium, copper, gold, and iron. Kyzylorda takes pride in being the birthplace of the legendary Korkyt Ata, a prominent songwriter and creator of the national musical instrument kobyz.

The city is also known as the "Land of a Hundred Zhyrau," as it is the homeland of many zhyraus (poets and musicians). Kyzylorda nurtured the ancient art form of "zhyrshy" or Kazakh folk singer-storyteller. You can immerse yourself in the city's cultural life by visiting the Museum of Local History, Kazakh Musical Drama Theater, Regional Philharmonic Hall, and the Korkyt Ata Memorial Complex.


Kyzylorda has a sharply continental climate, with long, hot, and dry summers and short, cold winters. Sandstorms are frequent during the summer months.

In July, the average temperature ranges from +27 to +29 °C (81-84 °F), with a maximum recorded temperature reaching +48 °C (118 °F). Contrastingly, January sees an average temperature ranging from -7 to -10 °C (19-14 °F), with the absolute minimum dipping to -33 °C (-27 °F).

Population and religion

The city's population falls below the 300,000 mark, and its demographic composition mirrors the diversity found in other urban centers across the country. Predominantly, the residents are Kazakhs, with a mix of other ethnicities such as Koreans, Russians, Uzbeks, Germans, Tatars, Turks, Chechens, Azerbaijanis, Ukrainians, Uyghurs, and more.

The population in Kyzylorda follows various faiths, including Islam, Christianity, and Baptistism. The city houses several mosques and one Orthodox Christian Church.

Notable personalities

Kyzylorda has produced numerous remarkable personalities in art, culture, and sports. Among them are Olympic champion Ilya Ilyin, singer Madina Sadvakasova, writer Abdijamil Nurpeisov, former lead vocalist of A-Studio Batyrkhan Shukenov, Soviet playwright and poet Abdilda Tazhibaev, and many others.

During the Soviet era, Kyzylorda hosted Hong Beom-do, the national hero of Korea, who found a final resting place in the local Korean cemetery. A monument in his honor was erected near the grave.

Kyzylorda strides confidently into the future. The city remains committed to modernization while preserving the collective memory of ancestors. The city ardently safeguards its age-old culture, embodying a harmonious blend of tradition and progress.

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