The West Kazakhstan Region is located in the northwest of Kazakhstan and borders Russia. The Ural River, which is considered the border between Europe and Asia, crosses the region from north to south. West Kazakhstan is home to representatives of more than 83 nationalities. As of 2022, the region's population is 685,673 people, of which 230 thousand live in the regional center – the city of Uralsk.

A bit of history

Since ancient times, the Huns, Kipchaks, Oghuz, and other peoples roamed the land that we now call West Kazakhstan. Later, it was part of the Golden Horde, the Nogai Horde, and the Kazakh Khanate. Starting from the 18th century, the region's history is closely connected with the Russian Empire. In 1773, Emelyan Pugachev started his anti-government rebellion not far from Uralsk, which was then called the Yaitsky town. After Pugachev was executed, Empress Catherine the Great ordered to rename the Yaik River to Ural River, and the Yaitsky town to Uralsk. By the way, Yaitsky town was first mentioned in 1584, but the official foundation date is 1613.

Uralsk was visited by various prominent historical figures such as poet Alexander Pushkin, writer Leo Tolstoy, lexicographer Vladimir Dal, opera singer Feodor Chaliapin, writer Aleksey Tolstoy, general Alexander Suvorov, Russian Emperors Alexander II and Nicholas II.

Why is the West Kazakhstan Region worth visiting?

Uralsk boasts many buildings built in the 18th-19th centuries, which give the city a certain charm. Be sure to visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the first stone of which was laid by Emperor Nicholas II. The Cathedral of the Archangel Michael was built in the 1740s and is one of the oldest buildings in the city.

As a city with such a rich history, Uralsk is bound to have many museums. The most interesting of them is the Museum of Emelyan Pugachev, where you can see the national hero's belongings. There is also the Museum of Alexander Pushkin, an outstanding Russian poet and writer. Some may be interested in the Memorial Museum of Mikhail Sholokhov, who was the winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature. The writer's family was evacuated to Uralsk during WWII. Also, be sure to visit the Memorial Museum of Manshuk Mametova, a WWII machine gunner and hero of the Soviet Union.

updated: 09 january 2023

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