Yesterday we had a posting about a visit to Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. It got its name from Semipalatinsk, a town which was later renamed to Semey, probably so it wouldn’t be associated with the nuclear testing site anymore. Here are some vintage photos of the place, the photos are mostly from the times before the Revolution – so over 100 years ago.
The first Russian settlement in the area dates from 1718, when Russia built a fort beside the river Irtysh, near a ruined Buddhist monastery. The monastery’s seven buildings lent the fort (and later the city) the name Semipalatinsk (Russian for “Seven-Chambered City”).
Old cossack fortress and church.
The fort suffered frequently from flooding caused by the snowmelt swelling the Irtysh, and in 1778 the fort was relocated 18 kilometres (11 milesi) upstream to less flood-prone ground.
A watch-tower house.
People on the skating rink.
A cinema “Progress” in the city
City commerce chamber.
A department store
The construction of the Turkestan-Siberia Railway in the early 20th century added to the city’s importance, making it a major point of transit between Central Asia and Siberia.
On 19 May 1854 Semipalatinsk became the capital of the Semipalatinsk Oblast within the Russian Empire.
An Orthodox monastery.
Butcher shops on the city square.
During the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanoff dynasty.
Between 1917 and 1920 the city operated as the capital of the largely unrecognized Alash Autonomy, a state created after the outbreak of the October revolution in Russia.
The Tatars village near the town.
The city was called Alash-qala during the Alash Autonomy years. Red Army forces loyal to Petrograd took control of the area in 1920. It was the center of the Semipalatinsk Governorate (ru) until 17 January 1928, then of the Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast between 17 January 1928 and 14 October 1939 and finally of the Semipalatinsk Oblast between 1939 and 1997.
The Irtysh River near the city.
A steam boat going to Russian Omsk city
Construction of the new church.
Russian author Dostoevsky (“Crime and Punishment”) (on the right) in Semipalatinsk
And a gate at the city entrance.