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Travel to Kazakhstan
Mangystau Awaits People from Abroad
The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, surrounded by Kazakhstan, Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan.

Mangystau is situated in the South Western Kazakhstan at the turn of the single in the planet internal sea – Caspian – and huge desert lying below World Ocean level. The Northern part of the region takes Caspian lowland. Mangyshlak peninsula and one of the deepest cavities in the world — Karaguie are situated in the center.

The South — Western plateau Kenderli — Koyasan descended into another giant cavity — Karynzharyk. Usturt plateau is spread to the East. The whole large territory of the region — 165.6 ths square meters – is divided by two parallel mountain ranges Aktau and Karatau. Mangystau climate is continental, arid. The average temperature in January is 4 — 9C. The annual rainfall amount is no more 150 mm.

The land of Mangystau is rich of different natural recourses. The reserves of the minerals according to their variety, pay thickness, convenience of their development are unique and actually do not have analogs in the world geology.

Except known to all oil, gas and coal which per the most modest calculations and at full depletion will be enough for 250 years, the earth of Mangystau covers unique mineral and primary complex.

By 01.01.06 the population of Mangystau is 373,4ths people or 2.5% of Kazakhstan population.

The single in the Republic sea trade port operates in the region. It is called "sea gates of Kazakhstan." The port is an important section of the transport corridors Europe – Asia getting through Black Sea, Volgo – Don, Caspian Sea, Volga and Belomoro – Baltic channel into Baltic Sea.

The land of Mangystau is a country of an ancient civilization, archeological reserve, museum in the open air where 11th historical memorials were taken under state guardianship, a country of thousands rock poems-drawings. Region of the unique cultic constructions and mosques such as Beket-Ata, Shakpak-Ata, Shopan-Ata, Masat-Ata where pilgrims comes in an endless stream not only from Kazakhstan but also from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Caucuses, Iran and Turkey.

The Great Silk Way passed through the lands of Mangystau thousand years ago — from Khoresm and Khiva to Europe and Middle East. To Usturt Plateau along this road there were fortresses, caravan-sarais, settlements of craftsmen cattle-breeders and hunters.

Historical background

White mountains

For the first time the peninsula Mangyshlak is mentioned in the ninth century under the name of Siyakh-Kukh (Black Mountain) by Arabic geographer All-Istakhri, who wrote: "I don't know any other place in this area where lives anybody else but Siyakh-Kukh, where there lives a tribe of Turks, they settled there because of rivalry between Oguzes and them.

Talking about the tribes of Turks in Mangyshlak All-Istakhri meant a part of Pecheneg tribes, who after the defeat from Oguzes left the Nothern territories between Aral and Caspian Seas and came to Mangyshlak."

One more mentioning of settlements in Mangyshlak is connected with Seljuk sultan named Alyp-Arslan in 1065 who forced Kypchaks of Mangyshlak Fortress to obey his power.

A traveller Yakut wrote about: "Minkishlak is an undefeatable fortress between Khoresm Suksin and the country of Russes near the sea where Jeykhun and Amu-Darya flow. This sea is Tabassaran (the area in South Dagestan) in the basin of the river Rubass to the west of Derbent. The peninsula of treasures, the area of historical monuments, and thousands of roads – that's what we call Mangystau today. These roads lead to the city that appeared at the sea –Aktau, the center of the youngest region in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The outstanding geologist, the first president of the Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan, academician K.I.Satpayev, and flying over the peninsula saw that it reminds a profile of a woman under the veil of desert and called it "a sleeping beauty." The peninsula was woken up by geologists they discovered at the beginning of 1950-s great deposits of uranium and rare elements, oil and gas. New cities and villages appeared on the map: Aktau, Zhanaozen, oilmen settlements Zhetybai, Kalamkas and Karazhanbas.

Mangystau wide keeps a lot of architectural and archeological monuments. They are of invaluable meaning for scientists, historians, archeologists and for every educated person. Architectural monuments of Mangystau are divided in two parts: memorial constructions grave stones and religious buildings-mosques. A lot of monuments are divided in four types: stylized sculpture of Koshkar-sheep; small forms of grave stone constructions: kylpytas, koitas, ushtas and their different combinations; saganatams, sarcophaguses; domical mausoleums-mazars. Mausoleums are the most remarkable monuments necropolises. Mangystau mausoleums are unique phenomena. The size of mausoleum is not large 5-6 meters across the front, 7-9 meters to above. Along with grave stone monuments there are religious constructions in Mangystau – mosques. Underground mosques have been well survived, such as Masat-Ata, Beket-Ata, Karaman-Ata, Shopan-Ata and etc. Four chambered underground mosque of XIV-XVI centuries "Shakpak-Ata" is unique among them, it was cut on the rock at the southern shore of Sarytash Bay. Shakpak-Ata mosque is unique as an architectural complex and in its details, and nowadays it is still a single revealed on the territory of the Middle Asia and Kazakhstan mosque cut in monolith and completely survived. The way of life, the culture, the art, Kazakhs traditions are reflected in these monuments. The monuments culture of Mangystau and Ustyurt are real evidence in determination of connections with the main cultural centers of bronze era, early and late iron ages. Ancient copper manufacture in Kentau Mountains, vast bronzes of the early and late iron ages serve as evidence of presence of bearer of saks (Scythian) culture, development of metallurgy in Mangystau. Survived parts of the Great Silk Way are sort of ancient monuments where one can meet ruins of caravan-sarais, fortified settlements, and ancient ground disposals. Thus there can be found ruins of caravan-sarai not far from Beineu village 40 km to the south-west, also there survived ruins of another caravan-sarai in the area of Shetpe village. In due time there noised several big towns on the eastern Caspian coast: Sarytash, Ketyk, Alta, Sherkala. The ruins of some of them still have been remained. The parts of the caravan ways still often can be met in Mangystau, as they passed through the ancient towns of Mangystau, they went from Khiva through Ustyurt, from Iran through Turkmenistan. The remains of the ancient constructions on its way are of special interests such as necropolises Kentty-baba, Akshora-Beltoran, Sagyndyk, Karakoz-aim, Sherkala fortress and etc. In this context the former Fort-Aleksandrovskaya sloboda is of historical and cultural interest, it was established in 1857 and gave the beginning to the present Fort-Shevchenko. A modern town Fort-Shevchenko is connected with the name of Ukrainian kobza-player Taras Shevchenko, he spent long years of deportation there (Novopetrovsk wall from 1850-1857).


There was established a memorial museum after Taras Shevchenko in 1932 next to an earth-house where he escaped from informers and detectives, he wrote and drew there. There still stands a pussy-willow planted by Shevchenko in 1850 in the park which was planted with his participation and now it becomes a reserve.

Aktau town is a regional center of Mangystau region. Its history starts from the end of 1958. Aktau was built in complex, by microdistricts, almost from zero. There one can see houses that were built stepwise on the rocky ground, houses with two floored apartments, houses "on legs" look like an open book, gallery and porch type houses, a lighthouse on the roof of the 11-stored house, a shopping center with a roof looks like a Kazakh national house. And all of this was built of strong Mangystau shell stone which is famous for its multicolor and is exported to the different countries in the world. In 1976 designers group was awarded a golden medal and prize of the outstanding city-planner Patrick Abercrombe, to which 53 cities of the world had claimed. The town is situated on the sea coast, the Asian climate in the inshore area and life style of townspeople connected with it as they prefer to rest at the sea coast rather to any other type of recreation. There were planted trees and gardens in town by force the botanic garden employees, and now it is a green oasis in desert. The ergional center is connected with other towns and regions by asphalt highways and rail road. There are international airport and international trade sea port in Aktau.

The one of the specially revered and visited monuments of Mangystau is rocky underground mosque Beket-Ata in the place Oglandy (Southern Ustyurt). The mosque is situated 100 km from Shopan-Ata. Beket-Ata himself was buried in crypt, in the depth of the mosque. Beket Myrzagul-uly is a philosopher and an enlightener of the Kazakh people. In youth he earned fame as a brave and skilled warrior and warlord. In the middle of his life dreaming of peace and consent in his motherland he turned to the religion, became a follower of the Sufi theory of Islam. He arranged his mosques-madrasah in the places of the seasonal camps where he educated people and preached a righteous life, organized teaching of children to reading and writing. He built several underground rocky mosques during his life. They located at the lower reach of Emba, at Aral coast, near well of old Beineu and in the place Oglandy. The famous Mosque Beket-Ata where hundreds of pilgrims come daily from abroad was given a status of National Fund in 2000.

"In Madina – Mohammed,

In Turkestan – Kozha Ahmet,

In Mangystau – Beket-Ata."

A deserted space of Ustyurt plateau guards it from the East, and it is surrounded by the sea from the three sides. The peninsula is washed by Mangyshlak Bay on the North, and By Kazakh Bay on the South. Clay deserts take the northern, western and southern parts of it, the central part takes mountain Mangystau. The highest point is 562 meters above sea level. Karatauchik, Western and eastern Karatau mountain ranges sequentially spread from the North-West to the South-East. The Northern and Southern Aktau ranges go in parallel to the mountains, separated by narrow valleys, in two sides from that line of the folded mountains. They are of the form of low raised plateau breaking towards each other. The South-Eastern part of Mangystau consists of sandy parts, takyrs, huge sors and salt marshes, chalky ranges. All of this insomuch attracts and amazes the one who have been there that an inimitable beauty of the land lasts for a long time in the memory. The land is unfriendly, seems to be a harsh real desert especially in hot days, but it is just a first impression, if to look carefully then the seeming lifeless gets quicken, it lives with its own seething life especially in the spring time. There was worked out a special route "Flowers of Mangystau."

Tourist companies have an opportunity to introduce tourists with flora and fauna of our region, also to organize sea trips on the yacht, fishing and hunting. There are wonderful green canyon cantons on the territory of the region: "Tamshaly" ("Joyful dripping") 30 km from Fort-Shevchenko, "Akmysh" – within Karatau Mountains, "Sultan-Epe" clove (by the old Khiva way) and etc. on the Caspian coast. Nature reserves have been established for protection of wildlife: Ustyurt State Biosphere reserve (was created in 1980), Aktau-Buzachy reserve (was created in 1982), Karaguie-Karakol reserve (1986) where Karaguie depression is situated which is 132 meters below of the world ocean level.






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