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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|
|Climate data for Karakol|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−13.2
|Precipitation mm (inches)||8.9
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||7.1||7.8||9.2||9.4||12||12||10.7||8||6.4||6.6||7.2||6.6||103|
|Source: "The Climate of Karakol". Weatherbase. Retrieved 31 July 2014.|
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.
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.
The story of the church goes back to July, 1869, when Karakol was basically a garrison town established as an outpost on the edges of the Tsarist Russian Empire. The Karakol church, however, was destroyed in an earthquake in 1889 which caused havoc in the town and took several lives. It took six years to complete, and was finally consecrated in 1895. During the period of construction, a yurt served the congregation as a church. It has seen considerable service, not just as a church. Over the years, particularly following the Revolution in 1917, it has been used as an educational centre housing a school, ladies’ gymnasium and an institution of Higher Education; a Sports Hall; a Theater; a Dance Hall and even as a Coal Store. Then, in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Independence of Kyrgyzstan, the local authority once again gave the building back to the church, with the proviso that all further restorations were their responsibility. Address: Gagarina/Lenina Working hours: 8am-5pm Sat &Sun closed
Issyk-kul Central Mosque of Karakol city named after Ibrahim Aji was built by initiative of Ibrahim Aji. His given name is Ma - Yoo - Ton. He invited the famous Beijing architect Chou Seu and 20 carvers with the skills of traditional Chinese architecture and composition techniques for building the mosque. In the construction of outbuildings and other work were involved local craftsmen. Construction of the mosque began in 1904 and completed in 1907. Ingenious system allows builders to build the mosque with no metal reinforcement tools. The mosque holds 42 based pillars. Encircling of the building is multi-tiered wooden cornice, decorated with images of plants like grapes, pomegranates, pears and peaches. From 1929 to 1947 during the Soviet era mosque was used as a storehouse. In 1947, the building was given to the Muslim community and to the present day function as a mosque. Besides it the mosque is registered as a historical monument and protected by the law. Today mosque operates successfully and opens for everyone who visits our city. Address: Abdrakhmanova/Bektenova Working hours: 4am-10pm
Nikolay Mikhailovich Przhevalsky is one of the first Russian Scientist-Geographer who started studying in details the geography, flora and fauna of the Central Asian countries. Beginning from 1870, he arranged 4 large expeditions to Mongolia, China and the Tibet. During his expeditions he revealed the exact directions of the mountain ranges and borders of the Tibet Mountains. He described the nature, relief, climate, flora and fauna in the territories under his study and discovered over 200 plant species. Przhevalsky also collected an enormous zoological collection which comprised several thousand of species of plant, animals, birds, fishes and insects. In the year of 1888, he died from typhoid fever on the eve of his fifth expedition to Central Asia; he was buried on the Issyk-Kul lakeside not far from the city of Karakol. The Memorial Museum of N. M. Przhevalsky was opened on 29 April 1957 in Karakol.Address: Village Pristan Prjevalski Working hours: Mon-Sun 9am-5pm Ticket cost: 120 SOM
Karakol Historical Museum
This small museum was the pre-revolutionary summer home of the Iliana merchant family. During the turbulent years of 1918-20 the building earned its socialist stripes as headquarters of the Regional Revolutionary Committee, and was subsequently transformed into a museum by order of the Soviet Council of Ministers in 1948. Scythian artifacts include enormous bronze pots retrieved from Lake Issyk-Kul, displayed alongside exhibits on petroglyphs in the area. Besides a comprehensive display of traditional Kyrgyz punched leather work, felt wall hangings and woven yurt decorations, the museum has a colorful collection of national costumes, examples of finely worked silver jewellery and a good exhibition of Kyrgyz applied art. One hall covers the region's flora and fauna - much of which is endangered and listed in the 'Red Book' (a Soviet inventory of protected species). The museum is also worth visiting to gain a Soviet perspective of history in the region. A couple of walls relating to Kyrgyz union with Russia and the subsequent revolution are now historical artifacts in themselves. Address: Gagarin/Jamansariev Working hours: Mon-Sun 9am-5pmTicket cost: 70 SOM
Karakol Zoological Park was founded in 1987. This is only zoo in Kyrgyzstan. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the economics of the country quickly fell into disrepair, and it concerned the newly created object culture. In 2001, there was a question about closing the zoo. However, there were found sponsors and it allowed not only to preserve the wildlife area, and keep it in a relatively prosperous state. Nowadays the buildings, cages and cells are not new, but in very good condition. There are Japanese macaques, bears, wolf, deer, camels, Prjevalski's horse, peacock and many others.Address: Koenkozov/Parkovaya Working hours: Mon-Sun 9am-5pm Ticket cost: 50 SOM
Early on Sunday mornings one of Kyrgyzstan’s biggest animal markets takes place around 2km north of central Karakol. Typical of such markets, you’ll observe scenes at once sad and comical, with locals improbably bundling voluptuous fat-tailed sheep into the back seats of Lada cars. The setting amid semi-derelict flour mills might seem unprepossessing, but on clear days the backdrop of white-topped mountains is more striking from here than from the town center. A series of earthen unloading plat¬forms lead north. Jostle through the chaos to reach a bigger main compound one block north, where you’ll find horse sales and vendors of beautiful embossed leather saddlery. On foot the bazaar is about 25 minutes’ walk from City Center. (Resource: Lonely Planet) Address: Lenina Working hours: 05am -10am, only on Sunday
Jeti-Oguz is famous for its large, red sedimentary rocks, about 2,200m. The rock have been carved out by a river from the Terskey Alatoo mountains. Years of weathering have split the rocks into seven parts. The forms of the rocks are similar to the head of the seven bulls, “Jeti”-means seven and “Oguz”-means bull in Kyrgyz. Another beautiful place to see is Broken Heart. This is a reddish rock shaped like a broken heart. For this rock, there are several legends: long ago a king who was very rich and had many wives went hunting. One day he saw a beautiful girl with black long hair. He fall in love with her at first sight, and wanted to marry her. However she was from a poor family and was already engaged. Her family ran away from the king when they learned that he wanted their daughter. But the king caught them, killed her fiancé and her family. Her heart was torn by sadness and the Broken Heart appeared in that place. Transportation: From Karakol to Jeti-Oguz Sanatorium/Broken Heart take a private Taxi for 600 SOM, the shared Taxi for 150 SOM per person (35km) from Karakol’s Aktilek Bazaar.*Beware that after 5pm it will be hard to find a shared Taxi. Address: Jeti-Oguz valley Working hours: 8am-5pm
Barskoon waterfall is a geological protected area located in Jeti-Oguz District of Issyk Kul Province of Kyrgyzstan in 90 km to the south-west of Karakol on one of the tributaries of Barskaun River. It was established in 1975. Within the Barskoon valley there are two waterfalls on top of the mountain and the mountainside. At the foot of the mountain you can enjoy the beautiful river of Barskoon. During the summer time there yurts built. At the yurt you try Kyrgyz traditional drink Kymys while enjoying the beauty of the landscape. Transportation: From Karakol to Barskoon waterfall (100km) private Taxi cost 2500 SOM per car or you can take Marshrutka from South Shore Bus Station to Barskoon village for 100 SOM and walk 10 km to the waterfall.*Beware that after 5pm it will be hard to find a Marshrutka / Taxi. Address: Barskoon ValleyWorking hours: 9am-5pm
The Fairy Tale Canyon / Skazka Canyon
The canyon was named because of its bizarre rocky landscape, which for many years has been transformed by wind into amazing sculptures and formations. Some formations look like The Great Wall of China and you can also find other formations that look like snakes, dragons, sleeping giants and even whole castles. From here opens unusual view on a majestic panorama of lake and blue caps of mountains. It’s an excellent destination for children and adults alike and makes for an easy hike close to the lake. Transportation: From Karakol to Fairy Tale Canyon (112km) pivate Taxi cost 2000 SOM per car or you can take Marshrutka to Balykchy or Bokonbaevo and ask driver to stop at the canyon for 100 SOM. Address: 4 km from the village of Tosor Working hours: 9am-4pm
The salty lake known as a “Dead Lake of Kyrgyzstan”. The lake was opened as a tourist destination in 2001. The water is so salty that one can read a newspaper while floating on the surface. The water contains about 132 gram of salt per liter. This lake is also popular as a “medical tour”. Mud is superheated deep beneath the earth’s surface. Many locals believe that it has healing properties. Transportation: From Karakol to Salty Lake (134km) pivate Taxi cost 3000 SOM per car or you can take Marshrutka from South Shore Bus Station to Balykchy for 170 SOM and ask driver to stop in the village Kyzyl-Tuu and walk 400m towards to the Lake Issyk-Kul.*Beware that after 5pm it will be hard to find a Marshrutka / Taxi. Working hours: 8am-5pm Sat &Sun closed
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)