Karakol is located on the east coast of the Issyk Kul valley. It is the most remote town in Issyk-Kul. It is 400 km from Bishkek and 220 km from Balykchi away. There are two ways to get to Karakol: along the north shore of the lake, through the spa area – the city of Cholpon-Ata – or along the south shore, which is less crowded and much more beautiful, because the unique nature of the south remains almost untouched.
The year 1869 of the 19th century is considered to be the year of the formation of Karakol, when Baron Kaulbars laid the foundation stone for the future city along the road leading from the Chu Valley to Kashgaria. The city of Karakol was named after the river on which it was built. Until 1887 the city was mainly built of mud houses, but after the earthquake of 1887 wooden houses were built. According to the plan, the city is an austere rectangle that is simply buried in the greenery, because in the past the builders had to create a garden and an alley in front of the house. In this way a garden city – a paradise for tourists – was built.
In the course of its history, the city has changed its name more than once. Until 1889 the city was called Karakol. In 1889, on the order of the Tsar, it was renamed Przhevalsk in honour of the Russian traveller Nikolai Mikhailovich Prshevalski, who died in Karakol during his 5th journey, and bequeathed it to be buried in this city on the banks of the Issyk-Kul river. In 1922 the city was called Karakol again, but in 1939, on the hundredth birthday of Prschewalski, the city was called Przhevalsk again. And this name was used until 1992, after the independence of Kyrgyzstan, when the historical name Karakol was returned to the city.
Karakol is famous for its many unique sights. One such sight is the nature reserve, where the tomb of Prshevalski, the memorial complex of his name and his monument are located.
Another attraction of the city is the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity. It is a unique 19th century architectural structure. It is a wooden building with a roof decorated with 5 golden domes. Another architectural structure – the Dungan Mosque – amazes with its magnificence and paintings. It was built in 1910 in the style of a wooden Buddhist pagoda without a single nail. The corners of the mosque are curved upwards and crowned with 4 golden dragons, while the gables of the three roofs face south.
A popular place for tourists is the ski base Karakol, which is 7 km away from the city. In recent years the base has changed a lot: a new cable car has been installed, new downhill slopes of different lengths have been created.
From Karakol many unique gorges are easily accessible, such as Karakol, Ak-Suu, Jety-Oguz, which is famous for its spa.
Therefore, we can safely say that Karakol is a paradise for tourists in any season of the year, where you can visit the unique monuments and enjoy the untouched beauty of the nearby gorges.
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