Kokshetau Named Cultural Capital of Kazakhstan in 2021

NUR-SULTAN – Kokshetau became the cultural capital of Kazakhstan in 2021 as a result of the Ruhani Kazyna national festival dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Kazakh independence, reports Kazakh Ministry of Sports and Culture on May 18. 

Central park of Kokshetau. Photo credit: Liter.kz

The winning title makes Kokshetau a primary destination for all national cultural competitions, including those among museums, libraries, leisure facilities and cultural organizations.

Kokshetau is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the country, as it is situated in the North surrounded by 14 lakes and mountains. The nature surrounding the city is covered with dense coniferous forests. The city itself was established in 1824 with a territory of 42,700 hectares. Since then, Kokshetau has become known as a center of agriculture and livestock farming, as well as a resort town with the Burabai National Park located 70 kilometers from the city. 

On the other side of the city stretches the Kokshetau National Park, established in 1996, comprised of the Zerenda, Shalkara, Imantau and Saumalkol lakes. The Burabai National Park and the Zerenda area are especially popular among local and foreign tourists who come to hike the mountains and swim in the lakes. During wintertime, Kokshetau also becomes a popular destination for skiing. 

The name Kokshetau translates as Blue Mountain from Kazakh. The city is named after the Blue Mountain (Kokshe Tau) that is the highest peak in the Kokshe Mountains with a height of 947 meters. The unique landscape of the city has earned Kokshetau the nickname of being the Kazakh Switzerland. 

Kokshetau was initially established as a fortress settlement before receiving the status of a city in 1868. Throughout its history, the Kokshetau area became a hometown for many notable Kazakh public figures, such as Kazakh akyn (poet) Birzhan Sal, scientist and writer Malik Gabdulin, the author of the classic Kazakh trilogy novel “Nomads” Ilyas Esenberlin and legendary Soviet pilot Talgat Bigeldinov. 

Kazakh Minister of Culture and Sports Aktoty Raimkulova at the award ceremony of the Ruhani Kazyna national festival. Photo credit: Gov.kz.

The nature of the area has served as an inspiration for Kazakh creators for many decades. Prominent Kazakh writer Magzhan Zhumabaev wrote his famous “Batyr Bayan” poem, while another famous poet Saken Seifullin composed the “Kokshetau” poem named after the city. Authors Ilyas Zhansugurov and Sabit Mukanov also wrote their renowned tales in Kokshetau.

“Our region is a sacred land with a unique culture, history and nature. The earth here inspires people with creative impulses, gives energy and strength. Its beauty, melodiousness and mystery rhyme with the destinies of many fellow countrymen who have glorified the region,”  Head of the Culture, Archives and Documentation Department of the Akmola region Aigul Sabitova told Kazinform news agency.

The boom of the urban development of Kokshetau occurred in the 1970s-1980s when the city rapidly became a hub for railway and aviation routes. Residential districts and industrial facilities also grew fast in the city. After Kazakhstan gained its independence in 1991, Kokshetau’s clean streets and comfortable urban planning earned it the title of the regional center of the Akmola region. 

Burabay National Park. Photo credit: Ehealth.kz

The city today continues to share its rich cultural heritage via its multiple museums and theaters. There are also 10 higher educational institutions, 12 colleges and 26 schools located in the city today. Kokshetau’s population today is 141,396 people.

In 2019, akimat (city administration) of Kokshetau announced its transition to a Smart City program. The initial stage of the project involved introducing e-tickets on public transport, the Smart School project in 5 schools and a pilot project to digitize the housing and utilities sectors. The construction of three city highways and one new bridge was also announced as part of the initiative. In June 2020, more than $25 million were pledged to invest in Kokshetau’s urban development including in school and housing facilities. 


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