Uralsk, which is the administrative center of the West Kazakhstan Region, was established 400 years ago - in 1613 - on the right bank of the Ural River. One of the oldest cities of the country is located at the place where the border between Europe and Asia lies.
The ancient name of the Ural River is Yaik; therefore, the settlement founded by freedom-loving Cossacks is called Yaitsk. It was this Cossack town that became the center of a spontaneous Liberation Movement in 1773-75, excited by Emelyan Pugachev who declared himself the Russian czar, Peter III. The peasant revolt also involved local Kazakh population, which also protested against the czarist autocracy.
There is a house-museum dedicated to Emelyan Pugachev with preserved Cossack household items of the 18th century. The building itself belonged to the family of Pugachev’s wife. Today this historical monument that belongs to the Local History Museum of the WKR keeps the outfits of Pugachev’s spouse – Ustinya; the throne and arms of the impostor, and even the cage which was used to take him on his final journey to Moscow to be executed...
It is known that the Russian Empress Catherine II sought to remove all traces of the Cossack rebellion and to wipe them from the history of the country. Therefore the town was renamed as Uralsk. However, this page in the chronicles of the Western Kazakhstan has not been forgotten. Moreover, Uralsk is also known for many ancient buildings that were built during the time of Yaitsky Cossacks.