12th of April 1961 is the most revolutionary day the humanity has witnessed. The day when first astronaut in the world traveled into outer space in a Soviet spacecraft. Where did this historical event took place? In Central Asia more specifically in Kazakhstan. Baikonur Cosmodrome is the first and the largest spaceport in the world located in southern Kazakhstan.
In 1954, Soviet space program started to look for a place to construct a testing ground. There were distinct criteria; the area had to be vast, sparsely populated, and not used for agriculture. However, it had to have access to drinking, non-drinking water, and a railway system. The best fit for future cosmodrome turned out to be steppe region near Syrdarya shores, in Kazakhstan. In 1955, locals of Tyuratam village witnessed something they had never seen before; the train stopped and many people started constructing a campground. We’ll admit that Baikonur is a pretty remoted location and you’ll have to deal with some paper work 2 months before your trip, but it’s so worth it! That’s where one of the most important milestones in human history took place! The closest town to Baikonur is Kyzylorda located 240 km away. You can take a plane Moscow – Baikonur, arrive to Kyzylorda from Almaty or Astana and take a ride from there, or arrive on a midnight train from Shymkent or Almaty. Although, cosmodrome is located in a steppe it’s full of greenery; outside of Baikonur you can see camels!
All places of interest in Baikonur are related to space and rocket science, only exceptions are mosque, cathedral, and train. The town is full of monuments of astronauts and has two museums. The most popular monument is dedicated to Yuri Gagarin obviously. Nobody can visit the city without taking a look at his statue. Another major monument is model of Soyuz spacecraft.