Karaganda, Kazakhstan

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Karaganda, Kazakhstan

Karaganda, Kazakhstan Reviews

MostlyElena MostlyEl…
13 reviews
Why Come To Karaganda, Kazakhstan? Aug 05, 2011
Karaganda, Kazakhstan may not immediately pop off the map as a vacation destination. Kazakhstan on the whole isn't on top of most peoples' list of places to go, which is unfortunate, and those people that do come usually limit their visits to Almaty and Astana. One of the fantastic things about Kazakhstan, though, is that each of its large cities has a distinct feel and mix of cultures to set it apart from the others.

Karaganda is a city built on coal mining (the name Karaganda means "black blood," a reference to the city's livlihood), but has evolved into much more than an industrial town. In fact, it's one of the most vibrant and progressive cities in Kazakhstan, with gads of colleges and universities filling the streets with teenagers and twenty-somethings throughout the academic year. Centrally located, its population is almost half-half Russian-Kazakh, giving visitors a feel for both major cultural influences in the country (though it is primarily Russian speaking). It's well worth visiting if you find yourself in Kazakhstan, and here are a few reasons why:

- Karaganda is known for its candy and its beer, Karagandinskoe.

- The city's central park features a lake surrounded by pleasant walking/running paths, amusement park rides, outdoor cafes serving shashlik throughout the summer, regular cultural performances, and ice-skating in the winter.

- There's a vibrant street culture in the city's center, with outdoor cafes often offering live music.

- Every July Karagandinskoe Beer Company sponsors a free outdoor rock concert featuring well-known bands from throughout the former Soviet Union in the city's central park.

- Shopping - prices are lower than in Astana (3 hours away) and many international (Mango, Terranova, Mexx, Promod, etc) and local brands are available.

- Though everyone speaks Russian and many speak at least some Kazakh, many people also speak either some German or English. The German is because the city used to be at least 30% German, and though most left after the collapse of the Soviet Union and were repatriated to Germany the language is still offered in most schools. English is because tons of young people in Karaganda study it in school and/or have done Work & Travel in America - a program where they live and work in the US for three months during the summer.

- For history buffs, Karaganda used to be part of the Karlag system of gulags that was the primary place where political dissidents and the victims of Stalin's intellectual and ethnic purges were sent. There's a fantastic museum in Dolinka, just outside the city, dedicated to the area's gulag past.

- The city has recently undergone a wide-scale beautification drive, meaning there are fantastic parks and squares scattered throughout city, many featuring monuments or statues to significant local historical figures.

- Public transportation can get you literally everywhere for 50 tenge (about $0.33).

- We have a large bazaar selling everything from food to clothes, electronics to hardware.

All in all, Karaganda is well worth a visit as you make your way through Kazakhstan. If you're traveling from Almaty to Astana or vice versa, it's on the way and you can stop by for a day or two and take in some of the sights.
Statue of a Kazakh WWII fighter pi…
Lake in the Central Park.
The crowd at the Karagandinskoe Mu…
One of the city's many fountains, …
6 / 6 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Amrisalem says:
thanks for sharing
Posted on: Nov 14, 2011
alvinmonteiro says:
congrats on the review, awesome...!
Posted on: Aug 07, 2011
ferroo says:
Excellent review Elena. Well written & interesting.
I have been to Uzbekistan & it gives the same feeling of not so much in the list of popular travelled destinations but reviews like that can be encouraging.
Posted on: Aug 07, 2011
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