Karakol – the biggest city and administrative centre of Issyk-Kul region is located on the foothills of Terskey-Alatoo ridge in the creek of Karakol river (in 13 kms from east coast of Issyk-Kul lake). This unique city is hidden from the outside glance among Central Tien-Shan ridges on 1770 m height above the sea level in the neighborhood with such majestic summits as Pobeda Peak (7439 m) and Khan Tengri Peak (6995 m). The area of the city is 48 sq. km with population about 70 thousand people.
"Karakol", that in translation means "the Black hand" was named after the same name of the river on which it is located. This comparatively young city was founded initially by Russian immigrants in 1869 year as a military – administrative center on caravan road from Chui valley to Kashgar. Later explorers arrived here to plot unknown mountain summits and valleys on map. Well –known Russian researcher N.M.Przhevalskiy was also among scientists and made a great contribution to the mountain areas of the Central Asia study. He died in 1888 y. here on the way to his 5th journey and bequeathed to bury him on the coast of Issyk-Kul lake near Karakol. The museum was opened on the place of his house in Mikhailovka bay. Then the monument and a small chapel had been constructed at his tomb.
It is interesting to track a history of changing the names of the city. Till 1886 y. it was named Karakol. Then in 1886 y. under the decree of tsar it was renamed to Przhevalsk, in honor of well-known Russian traveler N.M.Przhevalskiy. In 1926 y. Lenin returned the former name to the city, and it began to be named as Karakol again. But in 1935 y. Stalin renamed Karakol to Przhevalsk again in connection with 100th anniversary of N.M.Przhevaskiy’s birthday. And only in 1991 y. the historical name – Karakol was finally returned to the city.
The architecture of the city reflects all the variety of cultures and traditions of people that inhabited this territory in different periods.
The park-reserve, where the memorial complex with a tomb of N.M.Przhevalskiy the traveler-researcher of Central Asia and his monument located in 12 km from the city, on high coast of Issyk-Kul lake, whence majestic panorama of lake and blue summits of mountains open.
The Cathedral of the Sacred Trinity, where all orthodox believers of Karakol district gather for celebration of the Sacred Trinity (actually especially it was so named for its honor) distinguishes from other architectural constructions. This construction is a classical example of Russian Orthodox Church of XIX century. The graceful building with wooden walls and freakish ornament strongly stands on the stone base. Five gold domes decorate a roof of the Cathedral inside which there is a set of icons including a copy of Andrey Rublev’s "the Sacred Trinity" icon.
Dungan Mosque – one of the greatest constructions of dungan architecture (dungans are Chinese Muslims) amazes with its architectural originality and painting. The mosque represents a magnificent sample of Chinese architectural style of Cin epoch (1644-1911 y.y.). It was built in style of a Buddhist pagoda in 1910 y. from wood with no any nail. Pediments of 3 roofs see the south, and their corners are fantastically bent up and there are heads of dragons on the ends of angular beams personifying that or other good wishes. The external gallery which roof is supported with thirty golden columns, decorated with magnificent woodcarving is most expressive. The bases and stone works were made by local prepared in about 3 years. Many-tier wooden cornice surrounding the building is decorated with images of plants (grapes, pomegranates, pears, peaches). Traditional colors are red, green and yellow, giving brightness to original form of building. The witty system of kerfs allowed constructors to build it with no any nail or metal fastenings.
This region is chosen by most experienced peak cliffhangers from all over the world. Annually, hundreds of teams come here to test their power on the way to the top of the northest seven thousand meter peak in the world. It is Pobeda Peak and most beautiful Khan-Tengry Peak.