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Abakan – A Fascinating South Siberian City

Located in the majestic Altai-Sayan Mountains in the middle of Russia, the city of Abakan has a recorded history going back more than four thousand years and visitors to this lovely city will find evidence of that rich history all around them. Abakan is the capital city of Russia’s Khakassia Republic in South Siberia and is an important stop-over point on the Abakan-Taishet railway line which is connected to the renowned Trans-Siberian Railway.

The picturesque areas surrounding Abakan offer a huge diversity of landscapes, with forests, rivers, lakes, mountain taiga, bare steppes, Alpine meadows and high mountain desert, all within a few hours drive from the city. It is estimated that more than 1,500 species of plants are found in this diverse landscape which provides varied habitats for animal and birdlife.

Visitors to Abakan should make a point of visiting the Abakan Museum of Regional Studies for fascinating insight into the history and culture of the Khakassia region. More than 50,000 items are on display, many of which date back to the Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Exhibits include Neolithic stone sculptures; a collection of ceramic vessels dating to the early Bronze Age; burial masks which experts believe were produced at the turn of the Christian era; and an extraordinary collection of rock paintings and stone statues which were discovered in the Khakass-Minusinsk Valley. Within walking distance of the museum is the early 19th century Siberian Baroque style Spassky Cathedral, which is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of this style of architecture in Siberia.

The burial mounds in the Minusinsk Valley have been the subject of intense archaeological study for more than 300 years and yet many questions remain unanswered. The largest of these mounds, known as the Salbyk Mound lies a little way from Abakan and is surrounded by pieces of rock estimated to weigh between 20 and 60 tons each – how they were transported there is one of the unsolved mysteries.

With its long and often tumultuous history, Abakan is one of Russia’s most important archaeological centers. In addition to the ancient burial mounds and caves with centuries-old rock drawings, the city has an abundance of unique cultural and historical monuments. Abakan is divided by the railway tracks, with the southern side being the more historical section with many of the houses having been built in the 19th century, while the northern end of Abakan boasts modern apartments, offices, theaters and shops. Certainly, Abakan and its surroundings have much to offer visitors who take the time to explore it.


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