The capital of the province of the same name in the north-east of Kazakhstan
. By no means a premier dark tourism destination, but a rather convenient stopover when travelling in the region. And a couple of minor points of interest of the Soviet legacy type can keep the dark tourist entertained too.
>What there is to see
>Access and costs
>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
What there is to see:
not an awful lot, but if you happen to make a stopover here, then you should pay a visit to the city's two Lenins
and other bits of Soviet
-era statuary. One set is found in a park towards the northern end of Lenin Street. Apart from an eponymous Lenin, wearing a cap and coat with one hand placed confidently on his lapel, it also contains a concrete relief slab with the usual troika of Marx, Engels & Lenin as well as a standard T-34 tank on a plinth by the park entrance.
[UPDATE September 2016: a reader of these pages informed me that this park has been 'renovated', at the expense of this Lenin as well as the tank and the Marx-Engels-Lenin monuments. Allegedly the Lenin statue is in storage somewhere, so might at least re-appear elsewhere at some point, as has happened in other places, such as in Almaty
... The tank is said to have been given a new home too, but I do not know where.]
The other Lenin is to be found in yet another little park to the south of the city centre, also off Lenin Street, on the corner of Tolstoy Street. This is a rather modest-sized but silver-coloured Lenin standing on a somewhat oversized plinth that makes its occupant look even more diminutive. More remarkable from a dark tourism perspective is another monument in this park, closer to the street – it involves the fractured symbolic shape of an atom and a silhouette of a man throwing his arms up in the air, presumably in despair: this is a memorial monument to the victims of the Chernobyl
There's also a war memorial in the centre of the city in the park between Kairbaev and Krivenko Streets. Otherwise there's not much to see on the dark front – unless you count the ominous smoke plumes rising from the huge heavy industry plants that surround the city and pollute the region in the old Soviet, unhampered, smoking-chimney-stacks-are-good-signs-of-progress tradition.
Those with a taste for the associated old-fashioned industrial wasteland "scenery" could try driving closer past the actual locales of all that pollution, including huge chemical and metallurgical plants, an oil refinery, an aluminium factory and a few power stations.
on the banks of the river Irtysh in the far north-east of Kazakhstan
, just a bit over 50 miles (80 km) from the border with Russia
(southern Siberia), 200 miles (320 km) north-west of Semey
and a good 250 miles (400 km) east of the capital Astana
Access and costs: quite remote, but fairly well connected, affordable.
if you're not coming here as part of an organized tour but independently, then that's most easily and conveniently done by either train or plane (frequent connections to/from both Almaty
, plus a few extra trains to Karaganda
or even onwards into Russia
Getting around the city centre is easy enough on foot. Boats offer cruises on the river (see below
There are a few hotels in the city that are decent enough, including the one taking its name from that of the city (for simplicity's sake and in fine Soviet tradition), which offers great views over the city and/or the river. Likewise there's an OK range of eating-out options, though you shouldn't expect anything spectacular, but neither would you have to expect great expenses.
Time required: if you can spare a few hours for a good look around and maybe a boat trip, that's well enough.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
Pavlodar's location makes it a convenient stopover on journeys between Astana
(or even Karaganda
) and Semey
further south-east, which could also be reached via Kurchatov
and parts of the Polygon
Within easy reach for a return day trip is Aksu
with its communist statue park.
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
for such a provincial city in the far north-east of Kazakhstan
, Pavlodar is quite a pleasant place. It benefits greatly from its riverside location on the mighty Irtysh. The city sits on the right/eastern bank of the river overlooking broad expanses of floodplains, reed belts and woods amongst the various secondary channels of the Irtysh. The navigable main river channel offers scenic boat rides that depart from the river station just south of the main promenade and pleasure beach (ca. every two hours for ca. one-hour cruises, ca. 400 KZT).
In the city itself, one major attraction is the distinctive modern Mashhur Zhusup Mosque with its spiky minarets and greenish central dome. The latter's unusual shape has been likened to Darth Vader's helmet, and indeed once you look it at that way it's hard to remain as totally serious as a visit to such a religious centre would normally require. The inside is also worth a look, though it's rather less spectacular than the outside or the interiors of classic grand mosques such as those in Istanbul, Turkey
. The huge chandelier is quite impressive though.
In Pavlodar there are still quite a few surviving wooden houses from the Tsarist era, making for a very pretty, and very, very Russian
look. These are mostly located to the south of the city centre. One of them houses the regional history museum (Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 300 KZT), which I found extremely boring, though. There are also a couple of house museums dedicated to local greats who are most likely to be totally unknown to outsiders. More rewarding are strolls around the parks and along the river embankment (leading to the new landmark Blagoveshchensk Cathedral, which inside isn't even finished yet). Locals even go swimming in the river and you can see anglers trying their luck – even right next to the quite visible pollution from (presumably) raw sewage.
Further afield, there are a few lakes (esp. Koryakovka and Maraldy) that are local attractions not only for being scenic but more so for the alleged medicinal properties of their waters and mud.
- Pavlodar 01 - on the Irtysh
- Pavlodar 02 - Lenin proud and tall
- Pavlodar 03 - the usual triumvirate in sharp relief
- Pavlodar 04 - T-34 tank on a plinth
- Pavlodar 05 - park
- Pavlodar 06 - another smaller Lenin on a big plinth
- Pavlodar 07 - Chernobyl monument
- Pavlodar 08 - war memorial
- Pavlodar 09 - view over the city with pollution in the background
- Pavlodar 10 - industry on the horizon
- Pavlodar 11 - view over the Irtysh
- Pavlodar 12 - the Irtysh bank beach
- Pavlodar 13 - railway bridge over the river
- Pavlodar 14 - boat reflection on the Irtysh
- Pavlodar 15 - fishing despite the visible raw sewage
- Pavlodar 16 - Darth Vader-like mosque
- Pavlodar 17 - inside Mashhur Zhusup Mosque
- Pavlodar 18 - regional museum of history and local lore
- Pavlodar 19 - Russian-style window
- Pavlodar 20 - old modern and new fake old