Abakan is the capital of Khakassia Republic, one of the regions of Russia situated in the Altai-Sayan Mountains. The recorded history of Khakassia begins about 4-5 thousand years ago, which is even earlier than the world-famous Easter Island civilization - the earliest settlements of ancient man appeared here more than 30,000 years ago.
Situated right in the middle of Russia, only 500 km from the geographical center of Asia, until 1931 Abakan was known as Ust-Abakanskoye village. Today the city has a population of 160,000 people and is a very important point on the Abakan-Taishet Railway - a branch of the famous Trans-Siberian Railway. This railway line, 647 km. long, links the remote corners of southern Siberia with the big cities of the central part. City telephone code: 39022. Time: Moscow time + 4 hours.
Climate and Nature
Khakassia has a sharply continental climate with an average winter temperature of -15 to -18 C, and average summer temperature of + 20 to +22 C.
The territory has great diversity of landscapes. One might encounter bare steppes, steppes with spots of forests, the taiga forests, mountain taiga, high mountain forest tundra, high mountain tundra, Alpine meadows, high mountain steppe, high mountain desert - and all just within a 4-hour drive.
It is a land of mountain rivers and lakes and more than 50 of its lakes are said to have healing effect. About 1,526 species of plants are found on the territory of Khakassia. 85 of them grow in Altai-Sayan Mountains, 28 cannot be found anywhere else, 204 are used in Tibetan Medicine.
Places to Visit
Abakan is an important archaeological center in Russia, listed among the cities with unique historical and cultural monuments. The centuries-old burial mounds, caves with ancient drawings of animals and men on the walls give an idea of the age of this land.
The southern and northern parts of the city are separated from each other by the railway tracks. The south part of the city consists of old 1-storey buildings surrounded by beautiful small gardens. Many of the houses were built in the 19th century. So was the old harbour where ships docked during severe Siberian winters.
The north part is the newest in the city. Here you will see modern apartments and offices, shops, theaters and the main square of the city. Most of the industries are also located in the north part of Abakan.
The main places to see in Abakan and the region are listed below
Abakan Museum of Regional Studies. The Museum of Regional Studies chronicles the history of the region from ancient times to the 20th century. Most of the museum’s 50,000 exhibits are archaeological discoveries and ethnographical items. It had on display unique Neolithic stone sculptures, original ceramic vessels dating to the early Bronze Age, burial masks produced at the turn of the Christian era, scriptures remarkable for their informative character and esthetic execution, rock carvings, a unique collection of stone images and rock paintings found in the Khakass-Minusinsk Valley. Exhibits are displayed both inside and outside the museum. It is open 10am - 5pm, closed on Monday.
Spassky Cathedral. Built at the beginning of the 19th century in Siberian Baroque style, the Cathedral is one of the most beautiful churches in Siberia. It is located in the Old Town, near the Museum of Regional Studies. During Stalin’s purges in the 1930’s the cathedral was closed, the bells and icons were taken away, but in 1943 the implements were returned to the church and it was reopened to the public. However the bells were placed back on the cathedral’s bell tower only in 1989 and today the beautiful chimes can be heard from anywhere in the town.
Salbyk Mound. In Minusinsk Valley, on the banks of the Yenisey river archaeologists have found evidence of civilizations of different time periods. Burial mounds are no less a mystery than the Egyptian Pyramids. For more than 300 years archaeologists have been studying the burial grounds: stone tombs of all shapes and sizes, remains of people and utensils. The Salbyk Burial Steppe lies not far from Abakan. Numerous small and big burial mounds present a majestic and yet gloomy view. The most spectacular site is the Big Salbyk - the largest burial mound in South Siberia created in the 3rd century BC. The mound is surrounded by huge pieces of rock about 6 meters high and weighing 20-60 tons each. There is no other place like this where you can feel how old human race is.
Minusinsk city. This small town is located 20 km from Abakan, on the border of Khakassia and Krasnoyarsk region. Minusinsk is one of the oldest towns in Siberia, it appeared in 1739 and got the status of a city in 1823. The discovery of a rich deposit of gold in 1840-s led to an increase in the number of settlers and the development of the area. Till 1917 the town was also a place of exile for prisoners of all kinds. Today Minusinsk has a population of 80,000 people. It is a nice Siberian town with broad streets, traditional log houses decorated with beautiful carvings. You will have a walking tour of the Old Town, a visit to the Spassky Cathedral and the Martyanov Museum of Regional Studies.
Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Power Station. Sayano-Shishenskaya Hydroelectric Power Station is the largest in the country and one of the biggest hydroelectric power projects in the world.
Village of Shushenskoye. Shushenskoye village is located 80 km from Abakan, in the Krasnoyarsk region. In the Soviet time every school kid knew the name of this village - it was the Memorial Museum "Lenin’s Exile to Siberia". Today its main attraction is the Open-Air Ethnographical Museum "Siberian Village of the 19th century". 29 homesteads with houses and courtyard buildings take a visitor back in history, to the times when exiled revolutionaries served their sentence there. One might see the village grocery/hardware store, pub, the local courthouse and jail, explore naturally beautiful surroundings - the Sand and the Crane Hills, pine forest, Perovo lake, the cabin in which Lenin used to rest during his walks in the forest. Enjoy a delicious lunch of Siberian cuisine in a local restaurant.
There are two Nature and five Game Reserves in Khakassia, among which are the Cave Park and the Ornithological reserve that attract visitors from all over Russia as well as from other countries.
Park Hotel (Intourist) is located in the center of Abakan, near a picturesque park. Built in 1973, it was renovated in 1995. It is 5 km to the airport and 1 km to the railway station. The staff speaks English.
Sibir Hotel is located in the center of Abakan, in a residential area. The hotel is located 2 km to the airport and 2.5 km to the railway station. It was built in 1978 and renovated in 1998. Address: Prospect Druzhby Narodov, 9, Abakan.
Khakassia Hotel is located in the center of Abakan. It was built in 1967 and renovated in 1997. It is located 4 km to the airport and 1 km to the railway station. Address: Lenina str., 88, Abakan.
Druzhba Hotel is located 2 km from downtown, near the Shopping Center and the Central Post Office. Built in 1985, renovated in 1998. It is situated 3 km to the railway station and 3 km to the airport. Address: Prospect Druzhby Narodov, 2a, Abakan.