The very name of the city - Semipalatinsk - is based on a legend. They say that when Peter The Great sent the first scouts to these lands to find suitable places for building military fortresses, one of such expeditions discovered near the current Semey the ruins of an old stone structure that looked like a temple. Rumour has it that there were seven halls (chambers). From this supposedly the name of the first fortress appeared - Semipalatnaya (Rus. “semi” - “seven”, “palat” - “chamber”). And it later gave the name to the city that grew up on the banks of the Irtysh.
Semipalatinsk time machine
There are interesting legends associated with the buildings of Lorencia Beria in the area of the old military airport, where there are still concrete catacombs and bunkers. According to the stories of old-timers, here, under the leadership of the head of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD in Russian), scientists tried to invent a time machine. According to the legend, the essence of the invention was to break into the past, opening the portals of the human brain. One of those who might have encountered this unique phenomenon was Ilya Skokov, who served as a communications officer in the Semipalatinsk air squad after the war. He said that once out of curiosity he ended up in an underground labyrinth located under the airfield. Seeking a way out, he suddenly stumbled upon a wall. Rushing to the fork in the labyrinth, he saw no way out. The flashlight began to go out, and this saved Ilya - he saw a streak of light, went there, but when he got out, he got even more scared. Instead of the city there was a bare desert steppe. Only in the distance were small adobe buildings visible. Frightened, he rushed back into the maze. And he soon came across one of the military, who brought him out. It seemed to Skokov that everything lasted two or three hours. How surprised he was, when he figured out that he was gone for about three days.
There are people whose biographies resemble a fantastic black hole in space. One such person is Abay Kunanbayev. The great poet, philosopher, public figure was born in 1845 in the Zhidebay tract (Semipalatinsk district). From early childhood, he was distinguished by the extraordinary mind and opposed administrative authority. Subsequently, the fight against social injustice became the fundamental theme of Abay Kunanbayev’s poems.
You can revel in the biographical facts from the life of Abay Kunanbayev ad infinitum, but most importantly, he made an invaluable contribution to the development of Kazakh literature and presented the world with great works that teach you to remain a person even in the most inhuman conditions.
In Semey, a street, a museum, a theater, as well as a park is named after this great figure.
Wallpapers from Dostoevsky
There is the Museum of a great russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky located in the house in which the writer exiled to the city was renting an apartment. But the museum was only placed here in the 1970s, and before that, for almost 120 years after Dostoevsky many different people had been living there, and it would be hard to hope that some things of Dostoevsky were preserved. But, they say, already in Soviet times, repairs were started in one of the rooms. Under several layers of torn old wallpaper, pasted scribbled sheets were found. Dostoevsky, leaving this house, left drafts of his manuscripts and the homeowner who did not know the literature ordered to put paper in the case - as a ground layer for sticker wallpaper.
For the world community, this city is a long-suffering echo of the arms race as here was the fourth largest nuclear test site in the world in Soviet times. And now Semey is a symbol of a nuclear-free world, uniting under its shanyrak everyone who knows the value of life. It absorbed the philosophy of its ancestors. Abay and Shakarim lived here. Dostoevsky was in exile here. Here, loyal to the Fatherland Alashordins built their plans to transform society: Bukeikhanov, Baitursynov, Dulatov and others. In 2018 Semey celebrated its 300th anniversary. Not only does it remember many historical events, but also covered in many secrets and legends. From them you can make a whole book with the most fascinating and mysterious stories.