Kokshetau is one of the most beautiful towns in North Kazakhstan, the centre of Akmola oblast. The town with population over 140 thousand people occupies the territory of 42.7 thousand ha.
“Kokshetau” if translated from Kazakh means “Blue Mountain”. That is how since old times Kazakhs were calling not only the highest mountain top “Kokshe” (947 m) but the whole area. Many songs, poems and legends about the beauty of Kokshetau are inherited from one generation to another. These places are called “The Area of Blue Lakes”, “Kazakh Pearl”, and “The Area of Blue mountains”.
The town is located in the picturesque place on the bank of Bukpa Lake (it means “to hide”).
There is a Kazakh legend about how this mountain has appeared:
“Allah, when creating the world, gave earth beauties to all nations: some nations received mountains, some received forests, rivers, and Kazakhs received only bare steppes. Kazakhs decided that Allah’s gift was unfair and they started to ask him: “Please provide us with some earth beauty”, but the Almighty did not want to give what he still had in his bag. Then a hero from Kazakh fairy-tales, funny beardless joker Aldar-Kose decided to help his people. He came to Allah and told him: “Let’s play overstretching ropes”. Then they started playing and after they became bored, Aldar-Kose said: “Let’s go down to earth and play hide-and-seek”. Allah agreed but when they got down, Allah exclaimed: “And how are we going to play hide-and-seek? It’s all flat steppes here!” Then cunning Aldar-Kose said: “You can just put your hand into your bag and take some sand, stones, forest, and you can make a small mountain so that we can hide around it”. And Allah did so: he put his hand into his bag and took some stones, forest, made a small mountain and called it “Bukpa”.
So Bukpa is still there and the town of Kokshetau was founded near this mountain in 1824.
Once the hills that surround the town were covered with the thick forest, numerous livestock flocks that belonged to Kazakh khans of Middle Zhuz were roaming along the steppes of Kokshetau tract. There were a lot of wild birds and animals in the forests.
Vast territories and richness of the lands in North Kazakhstan were attracting the attention of tsar colonizers. Already in 17 century the tsar government started active colonization policy of Kazakhstan. After Junior Zhuz (and later Middle Zhuz) voluntarily joined Russia, tsarism started strengthening its power in Kazakh steppes. At the beginning of 19 century the tsar government decided to completely liquidate khan power and to introduce the administrative system by the administrative okrugs like in whole Russia.
For this purpose, in 1822 “Decree on Siberian Kyrgyzs” developed by M. Speransky was published. According to the Decree, khan power was eliminated in Middle Zhuz, and the territory occupied by the Middle Zhuz started to be called “Area of Siberain Kyrgyzs” and became under the control of West-Siberian General Governor. It was decided to open 8 external okrugs on this territory. The issue of opening the external okrugs was considered on 25 February 1824 in Saint-Petersburg at the meeting of the Siberian Committee. Initially it was decided to open two okrugs and it was stated that “… these okrugs hereby based on 14 “Decree on Siberian Kyrgyzs” will have their own names based on the name of the tract on these territories, that is the first okrug will be called Kokchetavsky and the second okrug will be called Karkaralinsky”.
Thus, on 29 April 1824, at the foot of the southern side of Kokshetau mountain the okrug department was opened. Sultan of the department was Mr. Gabaidulla Ualikhanov. After some time, due to some reasons the department was transferred and allocated near Bukpa hill, on the bank of Kopa Lake. The military settlement was also allocated here and since 1827 the construction of the Cossack village started.
Convenient location, availability of wood for the construction, fertile grasslands, large Kopa Lake encouraged the extensive expansion and construction of the settlement. By the middle of 19 century, the population of the settlement was significantly increasing due to the migration of the peasants from Volga region, Russia and Ukraine who were driven to migrate by starvation and poverty. They were allowed to build houses outside of the precincts of the Cossack village. Such precinct was Granichnaya Street (today, Z. Temirbekov Street), which was dividing the settlement into the Cossack village and the philistine part. By that time there were a lot of local, handicraft production in the town, and the number of trading places and crafts was increasing.
In 1868 Kokshetausky okrug was restructured into uezd, and Kokshetau became the centre of the uezd. Officially Kokshetau received the status of a town in 1895. By that time the population in the town was above 5 thousand people.
Before the October Revolution, Kokshetau remained the provincial town with underdeveloped industry represented by small enterprises that were processing agricultural products.
In 1916 iron-foundry workshops were built (later they became the mechanical factory) and a small power station was installed. In 1920-1930, besides the mechanical factory, there were the wine-making factory, leather-processing workshops, different workers’ associations, milling factories in the town.
The town suffered badly during the years of the imperialistic and civil war, the years of the Soviet power establishment, and the fight against the foreign intervention. The most active fighters for the establishment of the Soviet power in the town were S.Sadvokasov, A.Dosov, T.Klimov, F.Trubitsyn and others.
An important event for the town was the construction of the railway line Petropavlovsk – Kokshetau; in 1922 the residents of the town were greeting the first locomotive. In these years there are significant cultural changes in the town. The active policy for the increase of literacy is conducted. In 1919 the Public House is opened: it included library, lecture-hall, musical and theatrical divisions. In 1920 the regional museum was opened and the first issue of newspaper “Krasny Pahar” (Red Ploughman) was published. In 1925 there were six schools, five libraries, the pedagogical college, first kindergartens and the club-house in the town.
In 1928 due to the administrative reforms, Kokshetausky uezd was cancelled. Kokshetausky uezd was divided into several rayons including Kokshetauskij and until 1944 its territory was the part of Karagandinskaya and later the part of North-Kazakhstan oblasts.
The years of the Second World War were a great challenge for our small provincial town located deep in the country. The natives of Kokshetau were heroically fighting at the war battlefronts. Twenty three people from Kokshetau became Heroes of the Soviet Union, four our compatriots became the complete knights of Glory. One of our compatriots is the former student of school No. 3, Malik Gabdullin, whose museum exists in our town for several years.
A lot of work was done for the readjustment of the industrial enterprises, of the whole town for military purposes.
During the Second World War, Kokshetau became one of the towns where such enterprises as Podolsk factory of sewing machines from Moscow oblast, shoe factory and sewing factory from Ordzhonikidze were evacuated. On the basis of our mechanical factory and Podolsk factory of sewing machines, factory No. 21 was created for manufacturing the defence products: fragmentation and demolition bombs, stabilizers for mines, hand grenades etc.
In August 1941 the echelons with the injured soldiers started to come to Kokshetau. Hospital No. 2447 was evacuated to the town. This hospital was dislocated in various buildings. Thanks to the self-sacrificing labour of the medical workers, many soldiers could return to the battle-front.
Residents of the town, amongst them mainly women, old men and children, with their heroic labour were making great contribution into the long expected Victory.
People of Kokshetau revere the memory of the soldiers who fought in the Second World War. On 5 November 1977 the memorial complex was opened for the memory of those who died during the war. Eternal flame is blazing as a symbol of memory and heroism of our compatriots. On 16 March 1944, according to the Decree of the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of Kazakh SSR, Kokshetau oblast was formed with the centre in Kokshetau town.
Relatively rapid growth and development of Kokshetau took place during the years of development of virgin lands, especially during 60–70-es when the head of Kokshetau oblast was E.N.Auelbekov. During these years Kokshetau started to gain the image of a modern town. In this very period thanks to the start of the house-constructing centre, powerful construction base was created, extended construction started and the industrial development started. Thus, such industries appeared in our town as sewing, boot felting factories, meat-processing factory, milk plant, brewery, factory of oxygen-respiratory equipment, factory of household chemical goods. Later textile factory and porcelain factory started to operate. During these years the town significantly changed its image. “Druzhba” Cinema, “Kokshetau” Culture Palace, House of Political Enlightenment, urban hospital, pedagogical institute, schools, post office, airport and railway station were constructed.
In 1971, in Kuibyshev Street the monument was opened in the memory of the first Kazakh scientist, S. Ualikhanov (sculptor is T. Dosmagambetov). In 1974 in K. Marx Street (now Abai Street) the monument of V. Kuibyshev was opened (sculptor is V. Bogatyrev).
The boundaries of the town were expanded thanks to the construction of new residential micro-districts – Yubileiny, Borovskoy, Vasilkovsky. At the end of 1980-s the modern image and beauty of the town was added by the construction of new Abylai-Khan Avenue named in honour of 280th anniversary of great Kazakh khan Abylai.
Dramatic art is represented by two theatres: Kazakh and Russian. Since 1977 in Kokshetau there is the Russian dramatic theatre, the organizer and main director of which was Y.Kuklinsky.
In 1996 Kazakh musical-dramatic theatre was established and named in honour of S.Khusainov, our compatriot, famous playwright of Kazakhstan. The head of the theatre is the honoured artist of Kazakhstan, Muratbek Ospanov.
There are the historical-regional museum, museum of USSR Hero Malik Gabdullin and the new historical museum of Kokshetau town.
In the medical college there is the museum “Mercy and Courage” dedicated to the women-nurses who had received the International medal of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the English nurse who created the whole system for training the middle and junior medical personnel.
Great contribution into the cultural development of Akmola oblast is made by the Oblast State Philharmonic Society established in 1965.
In May 1989 a significant event took place – Kokshetau and the American town of Waukesha became the twin towns.
The 90-es in 20 century became the crucial years for the whole country and for our town. Complexities of the transition period, when the new sovereign state was just forming, caused long economic crisis in Kazakhstan. This process was hard for Kokshetau oblast. In 1997 Kokshetau oblast as an oblast receiving subsidies was cancelled, and its centre, Kokshetau town, became an ordinary town.
However, by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, N.Nazarbayev, as of 8 April 1999, Kokshetau became the centre of Akmola oblast.
In recent years Kokshetau significantly changed and became prettier. Clean streets, roads, stations, palaces, areas, parks and squares obtained the modern image.
The image of Kokshetau is getting better and renewed every day. New roads, irrigation ditches and drainage system gained the modern look. Different lawns and flower beds provide the town with the bright, unique image. Multicoloured compositions like beautiful carpets make the squares, palaces and theatres, offices and stations, parks and squares beautiful.
Today the great contribution into the economy of our town is made by such enterprises as JSC “Vasilkovsky mining enterprise”, one of the leading gold mining companies in the Republic of Kazakhstan that deals with the extraction and production of cathode gold, “KAMAZ-Engineering” LLP, which manufactures dump-trucks, buses and dumping facilities. “Kokshetau Mineral Waters” LLP has the more than 30 products, amongst them there are mineral water “Kulager-Arasan”, biologically clean water and “Turan”, high-quality alcoholic product.
Since 1959 there is the factory of oxygen-respiratory equipment, now JSC “Tynys”, which deals with the delivery of more than 40 items of its product for the construction of plains to the countries of CIS and in the country. There is great demand for the scales from 5 to 30 tons, heat meters, fire extinguishers etc. Today JSC “Tynys” tries to develop the production of polyethylene pipes, which are successfully used in the construction of water pipelines and gas pipelines.
Kokshetau is a city of youth and students. Nowadays there are 10 higher educational institutions, 12 colleges, 6 lyceums and 20 schools in the town.
Great attention is paid to the development of children’s creative work. Children can attend the Children’s arts school, House of children’s creativity, musical school, and numerous sports groups.
Every day Kokshetau is gaining its own unique image of the modern town that strives to become one of the centres for international tourism. One of the distinctive features of our town is that it is compactly located in the unique landscape – Bukpa Mountain, Kopa Lake, forests and hills. Kokshetau citizens and town visitors love to watch the beauty of the town from the observation point on Bukpa Mountain. They love their town as it is and do their best for its further prosperity.
Main sights of the town
Special solemnity to the town is given by the sculptural composition “Ananyn Ak Tilegi” (Mother’s Blessing) placed near the station in 2001. The sculpture of a woman symbolizes the image of a mother who meets and sees off her children and who gives her blessing to them. The monument is made of bronze. Total height is 14 meters. The authors are sculptors T.Zhumagaliyev, A.Shayakhmetov, architect Z.Moldabayev.
Thoroughly rehabilitated buildings make the town beautiful. In 2002 after the rehabilitation, “Kokshetau” Palace gained the modern look. The auditorium of the Palace is designed for 600 seats. There are many creative amateur groups working in the Palace. In front of the Palace there are sculptures in the memory of the Kazakh improvisator-musicians, Birzhan sal and Akan Sery (1991). The authors are sculptor T.Dosmagambetov and architect Arystan Kainarbayev.
The image of the central square in the town (Abylai-Khan Square) is significantly changed. The solemn opening of the monument, sculpture of Abylai-Khan sitting on the throne, was held on 5 November 1999. One of the attendants of the opening ceremony was the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbayev who placed near the monument the capsule with holy soil brought from Turkestan where there is the mausoleum of Khodja Akhmed Yassaui where Abylai Khan is buried. The authors of the monument are sculptors Y. and D. Baimukashevs, architect T.Dzhumagaliyev.
The building of the Kazakh musical-dramatic theatre (based in the former House of Political Enlightenment) makes the central part of the town beautiful thanks to its unique architecture and bright colours. The semi-oval auditorium with modern acoustics designed for 250 seats is beautiful and comfortable. Kazakh national motives are used in the decoration of the interior part. The design of the building is unique and is not repeated elsewhere in Kazakhstan.
In “Tauelsizdik” Square there is the new modern cinema “Cinema-Alem” restructured based on the former “Druzhba” Cinema. Three design institutes from Almaty, Karaganda, Kokshetau and 10 construction companies took part in the rehabilitation of the cinema. The auditorium has 340 seats, 8-channel stereo sound, 7-meter high screen, which is one of the biggest in the country. The equipment for the cinema was delivered from Great Britain, France, Italy and USA.
Such hotels as “Kokshetau”, “Dostyk”, “Zhekebatyr” uniquely fit in the modern architecture of beautiful buildings in the town. These hotels have modern original rooms, saunas, swimming pools, cosy restaurants, bars and cafe, car parks. Guests and residents of the town can spend their time in a number of cafes and restaurants, casinos and billiard rooms. The favourite place for the citizens and guests of the town is the large bowling centre “Sinegorye”. This is a huge entertainment complex, which includes restaurant, café and bowling.
There are new buildings of the financial centre of “Valyut-Transit Bank”, commercial-entertainment centre “Alatau” in the town. Soon the construction of the entertainment centre “Baldyrgan” for children and the administrative building of JSC “Kazakhtelecom” will be completed.
Amongst the rising administrative and residential buildings in the centre of the town there is a distinguished old building of the central mosque named after Nauan Khazret. This building is the monument of religious architecture, wooden architecture of the construction times of Kokshetau town. It was constructed at the end of 19 century. Along S. Ualikhanov Street there is the temple of Mikhail Archangel of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2004 the Roman Catholic Church was built in Akan-Sery Street. The building of this church (St. Anthony Church) is made of the red brick in Gothic style. The church has the only in the oblast organ.