"Atyrau - a city in the steppe" Atyrau by Vea

Atyrau Travel Guide: 28 reviews and 20 photos

History of Atyrau

In the 18th century Kazakh land was joined to Russia. 'Russia', wrote N. M. Karamzin, with access to the Caspian Sea, opened themselves to new sources of wealth and strength.' Colonial policies, carried out by the Tsar regime established their political power institutions, purposely to destroy the traditional foundation of the mode of life of the indigenous people. So in 1801 by the decree of Tsar Pavla I, Bukeyevsk Khanate was formed in Western Kazakhstan. Reforms carried out by the Tsar regime went on unhindered especially under the leadership of Zhangir Khan (1804-1845). From 1832 the nomadic tribes were forbidden by the Tsar regime to fish in River Zhaiyk, and later forbidden to pasture their animals near rivers, the town of Guryev, around the strongholds and forts. All this called for dissatisfaction from the common nomads and from the part of the clan nobility. Uprisings started to take place on the territory of the Bukeyevsk Horde and the national-freedom uprising led by Isatai Taimanov and Makhambet Utemisov (1836-1837) took on great levels. Batyr Isatai died in 1838 in the battle with the punitive detachment of lieutenant-colonel Gake. His friend and compatriot Makharnbet Utemisuly was a rebel poet who continued the struggle against colonialism and post-defeat. He too, died in 1846. The great Kazakh kuisbi (improviser poet) Kurmangazy, born in the steppes of Atyrau, dedicated his famous kui (a lyrical poem) kisbken-tai to this uprising. The fiery songs of Makhambeta and the defiant kui of Kurmangazy passed through the steppe exciting and arousing the people.
Legends and tales of batyrs, leaders of uprisings, defenders of the poor and the persecuted were passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation, preparing the grounds for the spread of revolutionary ideas. In 1916 the decree for the mobilisation of Kazakhs for manual work stretched the patience of the people beyond the limits. Another uprising was led by Utepkali Taimanov the grandson of Isatai Taimanov. Kazakhs left the territory of the district and even absconded from their work places. Soon this uprising merged with the events of the revolution of 1917.
When the Soviets came to power, Atyrau, which at time was Guryevsk District, became the arena for severe struggle between the Bolshiviks, the contra-revolutionaries and interventionists for the 'black gold'. In support of the Kolchak and Denikin armies the interventionists transported across the Caspian Sea weapons, ammunitions and medicines. An English military mission operated at that time in Guryev. Until the 1920s the Caspian region was the military base for the contra-revolutionary forces. After the defeat of the 'white guards' the Soviets took on power and heralded the start of intensive development of the fish and oil wealth of the region.
Until the Great Patriotic War and after the war there have always been discoveries of valuable deposits of oil and gas and the construction of large industrial enterprises.
Significant changes have been going on in the life, economy and culture of the region. This remote land is steadily turning into a large industrial centre of the Caspian region.

  • Last visit to Atyrau: Oct 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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