Aktobe: Contrast of Religions

A lot of cities in Central Asia, you are going to see golden domes breaking out above the skyline. Spires typically surround a more central, larger dome that caps the primary area of worship. But as you observe these places of worship, you will notice the shapes and symbols are different. Creating a more tear drop shape to its dome and topped with a cross is the Orthodox cathedral and the more rounded domes with crescent moons signify the cities Islamic mosques. 

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Central Asia’s nomadic people have been conquered and controlled by so many forces over the centuries. Each controlling force deposits little pieces of culture, political influence, infrastructure, and religion as it passes. Kazakhstan has a relatively short history as an independent nation and thus a big mix of nationalities and cultures influence who it is as a nation today. Here in Aktobe, as you look out over the central town square, you can see remnants of the regions mixed history. On different sides of the square landmarks of opposing, yet culturally and historically significant religions reside.

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From the 8th to 15th century, the Kazakhstan region was controlled by the Arabs. They brought with them Islamic religion from the west and established mosques. The people went through a couple changes of control through the next couple centuries but were eventually taken over by the Russian traders and soldiers who were after Kazakhstans rich resources. The next 300+ years Kazakhstan remained under Russian and Soviet influence. During this time a lot of russian people were moving into these new lands to fulfill working and ruling roles. With them, Russian Orthodox churches and philosophy were brought. Therefore, now most cities throughout Kazakhstan are adorned with beautiful mosques and cathedrals. 

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