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Regional Museum

Jamansariev str 164. Open 9am-5pm daily. Exhibits in Russian and Kyrgyz, many also in English.

Karakol’s modest regional museum is in a sturdy colonial brick building, once the home of a wealthy landowner. It’s of limited interest, with exhibits on the petroglyphs around Issyk-Kol, a few Scythian bronze artefacts, a Soviet history of the Kyrgyz union with Russia, some Kyrgyz applied art and photographs of old Karakol – all of it better with a guide.

It might worth a visit for its splashes of information on a variety of topics. Kumtor, the joint venture Kyrgyz-Canadian company which is exploiting gold reserves high in the Tien Shan mountains, exhibit photos and information on their activities, with a slightly familiar Soviet propagandist emphasis on high local employment and skills transfer. A small section recounts the history of the Russian community in the region. A couple of walls devoted to the story of the revolution appear unaltered.

The more traditional exhibits include vast Scythian bronze pots, apparently retrieved from Issyk Kul, measuring one metre in diameter, large beautifully decorated leather koumys (fermented mare's milk) containers, 14th-century pottery jugs, musical instruments, jewellery of silver and semi-precious stones and a display of Kyrgyz applied art; traditional costumes, felt wall hangings and yurt doors. The surrounding streets of pretty, Slav-style houses are also worth a stroll.