The seaside city of Aktau stands on the Caspian, in the southwest of the country. But this is far from a resort: the bare desert stretches around. As the city of Aktau is a little over 50 years old, and it is unlikely that someone will go here out of idle interest. But thanks to the rapid development of oil production in these places, more and more specialists from various countries come here on business trips. For Kazakhstan climate and geography, please check TopPharmacySchools.
“The desert, completely without any vegetation, sand and stone: even if there is a tree, there is nothing,” this is what the poet says about these places.
How to get to Aktau
Moscow and Aktau are connected by air service – several direct flights a week from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo. About three hours in the air – and you are there. There is no railway station in Aktau, you need to get from the neighboring city of Mangystau, which is 16 km away. But you will have to get there from the capital with a transfer in one of the cities of Western Kazakhstan. And at a cost – not cheaper than an airplane.
The history of the city is connected with the creation of the nuclear shield of the USSR, which required a lot of uranium. Uranium was mined, processed and enriched, and this required considerable labor and resources. A settlement was built around the complex of enterprises so that the workers could more or less comfortably exist in the middle of the desert. Officially, the settlement became a city in 1963. Thus, Aktau is a city that grew out of the blue: there was not even a seedy village here. After perestroika, Aktau was mainly oil-producing, and after the recent discovery of the Kashagan oil field, an era of prosperity actually began in the city, not without the help of foreign investors.
Entertainment and attractions in Aktau
Aktau is a hot, deserted city and not at all green. In summer, in order to give it a somewhat cute look, green spaces in the city must be watered – no flowers can withstand the heat of 45 degrees without moisture. There are no rivers nearby, even drinking water in the city is sea water, demineralised. Aktau was built according to the general plan, purely functional, so they didn’t even give names to the streets: they simply numbered the microdistricts and used these numbers as part of the address, supplementing it with the house number. At the same time, by local standards, Aktau is a huge city: there are skyscrapers with 30 floors and new skyscrapers are constantly being built.
Taras Shevchenko was in exile near Aktau, and the city was named after him from 1963 until perestroika. “The desert, completely without any vegetation, sand and stone: even if there is a tree, there is nothing,” this is what the poet says about these places.
Naturally, there are no historical sights in the city. Only the latest, modern buildings are of interest to one degree or another. For example, the main wedding palace, decorated in the center with a completely Martian spire. And one of the most beautiful buildings in the city is a large snow-white mosque with many sky-blue domes.
On the whole, the appearance of Aktau cannot be called radically Muslim: traditional clothes are hardly worn here, and most residents still prefer to speak Russian.
It is interesting to visit the port of Aktau. This is one port for the whole of Kazakhstan, where dry cargo ships and oil tankers from other countries call. The port was built in 1963 specifically to transport uranium and petroleum products.
And in the city park – one of the few shady places in Aktau – there are several sculptures and a miniature railway. It has a model of the Eiffel Tower.
The beach in Aktau is not one – there are several of them. Surprisingly, in the summer heat and desert climate, the sea in the city area is not too warm: the beach season opens here only at the end of June and lasts until autumn. Around the more or less cleared city beach, the coastline is strewn with picturesque boulders, on which you can comfortably sit down without swimming plans.
Near Aktau is the world’s largest open pit uranium mine. Now, however, its development is not underway.
3 things to do in Aktau:
- See the lighthouse on the roof of a residential building – the only one in continental Europe.
- Get to the recreation center “Ivushka”, which is near the sea, to swim in a well with mineral hot water, as they say, very invigorating.
- Take a picture of the monument-sailboat on a granite pedestal-wave.
Vicinities of Aktau
There are many necropolises around Aktau, the earliest of which dates back to the 9th century, underground mosques, historical monuments and Muslim shrines. But you need to understand that in this case, “around” means distances of tens and tens of kilometers. And these kilometers must be overcome in the desert by car, at your own peril and risk. Therefore, for those who are really interested in the history and culture of these places, it is better to book an excursion in advance with a visit to the most iconic sights of the region.
The underground mosque Beket-Ata is the most important Muslim shrine. Beket-Ata, a seer, healer, nugget scientist and Sufi, built three underground mosques in Mangistau. At the mosque in Oglandy, he opened a Sufi school, and after his death he was buried here. For more than two centuries this place has been a center of pilgrimage. The drive here is quite long, but on the way travelers pass another mosque named after Shopan-Ata, the teacher of Bekket-Ata. Also of interest is the Shakpak-Ata underground mosque, carved into the rock in the 10th century. On its columns, the remains of ancient paintings have been preserved, and on one of the walls you can read Sufi verses-parables about the frailty of everything that exists.