Trans Eurasia travel

Irtysh River embankment

One of the most pleasant places in the city in summer, there is a river beach here, popular in hot weather. The embankment also provides for a pleasant walk along one of three paths running at different heights. Head south to the river station, or north to the Blagoveshchensk Cathedral.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Benediction (Blagoveshchenskiy sobor) is a red-brick building with an octagonal tower topped by a green dome, from which rises a golden onion dome atop a further circular tower, with lower towers bearing smaller onion domes in attendance around it. Modelled on a Moscow Kremlin church, the Cathedral shines on the bank of the Irtysh, next to the hotel Sary Arka where Toraigyrov Street begins. It was inaugurated on the historic spot on the steep bank of the Irtysh, clearly visible to the ships that pass up and down the river, where until 100 years ago Pavlodar's largest church stood.

Completed in 1999, with financial backing from Pavlodar's main industrial enterprises, it features nine bells, ranging in weight from 4kg to 1,024kg. The main entrance lies beneath the bell tower on the western side of the building. The interior has an unfinished appearance, its walls undecorated above the iconostasis. The interior of the green-domed octagonal chapel standing to the northwest of the cathedral is, in contrast, colourfully decorated with wall paintings: locals come to the chapel with plastic bottles in order to stock up on blessed water flowing from a golden cross in the central font.

Shafer House Museum This is not really a museum as such, but rather the remarkable record collection of Pavlodar musicologist Naum Shafer. It is round the back of an apartment block, set back from Bekturov Street in the northeastern part of the town centre. A large part of his apartment has been turned into a library of some 27,000 records, plus many thousands of books. Professor Shafer himself may be on hand to show you some of the gems of his collection: shellac 78 rpm discs which he plays on a wind-up gramophone, replacing the needle every time. Professor Shafer, himself a composer under the pseudonym Nami Gitin, is an authority on the Soviet composer Isaak Dunayevsky, who specialised in 'light' operettas and film music. He has released an album of Dunayevsky's collaborations with the writer Mikhail Bulgakov. This is a place for enthusiasts; just don't expect any heavy metal. There is a small concert hall next door, in which Shafer plays records from his collection every Friday at 18.00 (admission free) to an audience of Pavlodar music lovers.

Mashhur Zhusup Mosque Many attempts have been made to describe the remarkable design of Pavlodar's large modern mosque. It was only inaugurated at the start of the new millennium. It was named after a prominent local poet and historian Mashchur Zhusup Kopeyuly, who lived here from 1858 to 1931. This hugely impressive mosque looks as though it could welcome all Muslims of northern Kazakhstan at once; its massive structure contains ritual, cultural and social facilities under a single roof.

A green dome stands atop a ridged cone. Four tall octagonal minarets surround it. The prayer hall is circular and capacious, with a carved wooden mihrab. A large chandelier hangs down from the dome. Light enters through latticed windows. It includes a madrasa and library. The building is impressive, though is already starting to look somewhat the worse for wear, with some of the green panels lost from one of the minarets, and rust setting in. It is surrounded by birch trees.

The mosque is located on the eastern edge of the town centre. To get here, head east several blocks along Krivenko Street, which runs off Satpaev Street just south of the building housing the regional administration.


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