Originally established as a fortified town where the Ural River flows into the Caspian Sea, Atyrau is a modern city that’s flourished on the back of the oil and gas industries. It’s divided in two by the Ural River, with half of the city in Europe and the other in Asia. Atyrau is home to several fine museums and lies near the ancient Silk Road settlement of Saraishyk.
Things to do in Atyrau
You can learn about the people, industries and events that have shaped the city at the Atyrau Regional Museum, which offers audio guides in English. Get up close to ancient artefacts uncovered in the surrounding area and admire traditional costumes, as well as old newspaper clippings detailing influential moments in Atyrau’s past.
Adjacent to the Atyrau Regional Museum is the Regional Art Museum, where you’ll find everything from prehistoric petroglyphs to contemporary works by emerging local artists. See paintings by the renowned Kazakhstani artist Abilkhan Kasteev and learn about the attempts by Shaimardan Sariev to establish a national school of painting in the 1960s.
Atyrau makes an excellent base for visiting the ancient city of Saraishyk, which lies along the Ural River, around 50 kilometres to the north. Once part of the Silk Road trade route, it played an important role in the transport of goods between Europe and China between the 10th and 16th centuries. In addition to the crumbling remains of its buildings and workshops, there’s a small museum detailing the history of the site.
Getting around Atyrau
Atyrau International Airport is a 25-minute drive from the centre of Atyrau and has flights to destinations across Russia, the Middle East and Central Asia. Trains connect from cities across Kazakhstan to the Atyrau railway station while buses travel throughout Atyrau.