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The Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karakol
Karakol (Kyrgyz: Каракол), formerly Przhevalsk, is fourth largest city in Kyrgyzstan, near the eastern tip of Issyk Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan, about 150 kilometres (93 mi) from the Kyrgyzstan-China border and 380 kilometres (240 mi) from the capital Bishkek. It is the administrative capital of Issyk Kul Province. To the north, on highway A363, is Tyup and to the southwest Jeti-Ögüz resort.
A Russian military outpost founded on July 1, 1869, Karakol grew in the 19th century after explorers came to map the peaks and valleys separating Kyrgyzstan from China. In the 1880s Karakol's population surged with an influx of Dungans, Chinese Muslims fleeing warfare in China.
In 1888, the Russian explorer Nicholay Przhevalsky died in Karakol of typhoid, while preparing for an expedition to Tibet, the city was renamed Przhevalsk in his honor. After local protests, the town was given its original name back in 1921—a decision reversed in 1939 by Stalin to celebrate the centenary of the explorer's birth. Karakol then remained Przhevalsk until the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. However the name has been retained by nearby Pristan'-Przheval'sk.
Nearby Issyk Kul Lake was used by the Soviet military as a testing site for torpedo propulsion and guidance systems, and Karakol was thus home to a sizable population of military personnel and their families. Karakol continues to be a major hub for visitors of Issyk Kul Lake.
|Historical populations in Karakol|
Karakol is one of Kyrgyzstan's major tourist destinations, serving as a good starting point for the excellent hiking, trekking, skiing and mountaineering in the high central Tian Shan to the south and east.
The town itself boasts a number of places that would be of interest to tourists, such as a very pretty wooden mosque built by Chinese artisans for the local Dungans between 1907 and 1910 entirely without metal nails and a similarly appealing wooden Russian Orthodox church, the Holy Trinity Cathedral, completed in 1895, used as an officer's club during Soviet times, but now restored and in use again. The Regional Museum, following some sponsorship from the nearby Canadian gold mining concern, has exhibits on the Issyk Kul Lake petroglyphs, Scythian bronze artifacts, and a short history of the geology and mineral exploitation in the region. There also is a small section of Russian colonial "gingerbread" style residential buildings. The Sunday livestock market is a good place to see remnants of the traditional nomadic rural life.
Przhevalsky's grave, a memorial park and a small museum dedicated to his and other Russian explorations in Central Asia are some 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) north of Karakol at Pristan Przhevalsky, overlooking the Mikhailovka inlet of Issyk Kul Lake where the former Soviet torpedo testing facilities were located. Facilities themselves are still a closed, military area.
Karakol is famous among skiers and snowboarders from former USSR for its ski resort. Situated just 20 minutes from the town, the Karakol Ski Base provides services significantly better than those available at Shymbulak, a resort outside Almaty, and has cheaper prices. Unlike Shymbulak resort, the riding at Karakol includes forest areas as well as cleared trails.
Famous people born in Karakol
- Grigoriy Shemyakin, born in 1906, Hero of the Soviet Union, one of Panfilov's Twenty-Eight Guardsmen
- Перепись населения и жилищного фонда 2009 года (Population and Housing Census 2009)
- Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи 1897 г. Наличное население в губерниях, уездах, городах Российской Империи (без Финляндии). Семиреченская область (First General Russian Empire Census of 1897. Population in provinces, districts, towns of Russian Empire (without Finland). Semirech'e Province (Demoscope.ru) (Russian)
- Review of Semirech'e Oblast for 1907 (Обзор Семиреченской области за 1907 год), Verniy: Publishing House of Semirech'e Provincial Aministration, 1908
- Всесоюзная перепись населения 1926 года : Киргизская АССР. (All-Union Census of 1926: Kyrgyz ASSR), Moscow: CSU SSSR, 1928
- Численность наличного населения городов, поселков городского типа, районов и районных центров СССР по данным переписи на 15 января 1970 года по республикам, краям и областям (кроме РСФСР)