Lighthouses of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, a large country of central Asia, was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union until 1991. At its western end, Kazakhstan borders the northeastern quadrant of the landlocked Caspian Sea, the world's largest lake. There are several lighthouses on the lake, but since they are not listed by international light lists not much is known about them. Further information, especially photos, would be welcome.

The principal Kazakh ports are Atyrau (formerly Guryev), at the mouth of the Zhayyq (Ural) River near the north end of the Caspian, and Aqtau (formerly Shevchenko) on the Mangyshlak Peninsula opposite Makhachkala in Russian Dagestan.

Lighthouses in Kazakhstan are maintained by the Hydrographic Service within the Ministry of Defense. According to, the Hydrographic Service operates five lighthouses. A December 2014 article from identifies these lighthouses as Mys Peschannyy, Melovoy (Aqtau), Kyzyl-Ozen, and the two Tupkaragan lights. Other lights in the country are assumed to be inactive.

The Russian word for a lighthouse, mayak (маяк), is commonly used in Kazakhstan, although there is also a Kazakh word bağdarşırak (бағдаршырақ). (The use of Cyrillic script has continued from Soviet times, although some Kazakhs would prefer to use a Latin script similar to that of Turkish.) Mwyis is a cape and aral is an island.

Special thanks to Michel Forand for sharing his research on lighthouses of the Caspian Sea; much of the information on this page is based on his work.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights.

General Sources
Kazakh Lighthouses
This Russian-language article by Elena Kalinina (no longer online, unfortunately) had valuable information on the history of the historic lighthouses.
World of Lighthouses - Kazakhstan
Photos by various photographers available from
Lighthouses in Kazakhstan
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
Tyub-Karagan Light
Tupkaragan (Tyub-Karagan) Upper Light
undated photo from
Karakiya District Lighthouses
Fetisovo (Kendirlinskiy)
Date unknown. Inactive. 7 m (23 ft) skeletal mast mounted on a square stone pyramid. Two adjoining 1-story buildings. Yerzhan Babakulob has a view from the sea, another view is available, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Located at the tip of a sand spit enclosing the lagoon of Fetisovo. Site status unknown. ARLHS KAZ-001.
Mys Tokmak (?)
Date unknown. The Times Atlas marks a light on this point, but no definite information is available. A series of photos on does not show a light, and Google's fuzzy satellite view does not reveal anything resembling a light station. Located on a prominent cape about 50 km (30 mi) west of Fetisovo. Site status unknown.
Mys Rakushechnyy
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) square pyramidal stone tower. Enzo Ferrari's 2011 photo shows the abandoned tower, has an article that mentions an "old lighthouse" on the cape, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on a prominent cape about 65 km (40 mi) southeast of Yeraliyev. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS KAZ-002.
Eralievo (Yeraliyev, Mys Zhilandy)
Date unknown. Inactive. Square cylindrical skeletal tower carrying a large slatted daymark. The lighthouse is on the right in Alex Cronin's distant view and Sergei Korsun's even more distant view; Google has a good satellite view. Located atop a steep bluff at Mys Zhilandy, a headland about 8 km (5 mi) south of Eralievo (Yeraliyev). Site status unknown. ARLHS KAZ-003.

Munaily District Lighthouses
* Mys Peschannyy
1954. Active; light characteristic unknown. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) octagonal cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery. The station includes several buildings and a communications tower. Bolat Mukhambetov's photo is at right, another photo is available, and Google has a good satellite view. The lighthouse marks Mys (Cape) Peschannyy (Sandy Cape), a very prominent cape about 40 km (25 mi) south of Aqtau. Located about 1.2 km (3/4 mi) east of the beach and about 4 km (2.5 mi) north of the point of the cape. This area is slated for development of an oil terminal, where oil from Central Asia will be shipped across the Caspian. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS KAZ-004.
Mys Peschanny Light
Mys Peschanny Light, 2009
Panoramio photo copyright Bolat Mukhambetov; permisson requested
* Aqtau (Aktau, Shevchenko, Melovoy) (2)
1974 (station established 1948). Active; focal plane 71 m (233 ft); one white flash followed by one red flash, every 26 s. 10 m (33 ft) octagonal masonry tower with lantern and gallery, centered atop a 12-story apartment building; the total height is 43 m (141 ft). Light tower painted white with one black horizontal band; lantern painted black (formerly red). Pedro Loza's photo appears at right, Anastassiya Lukyanova has a closeup of the light tower, has a photo, Philipp Jahn has a photo, Wikimedia has a good view from the sea, has a good photo as well as Eduard Sarkisov's view from the sea, Bram Scheutjens has a photo, and the building appears on a Google satellite view. Lukyanova says that the light has a keeper who lives in a flat on the top floor of the building. Aqtau (formerly called Shevchenko) is Kazakhstan's principal port on the Caspian Sea and the site of former Soviet nuclear and chemical plants. Ferries carry rail traffic across the Caspian between Aqtau and Makhachkala on the Russian coast. This is the landfall light for the port. The original light was on a 7.5 m (25 ft) tower close to the water. Located in Aqtau on a promontory about 5 km (3 mi) northwest of the ferry port. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS KAZ-005.

Tupkaragan District Lighthouses
[Maykin Kugran]
Date unknown. Inactive. 6 m (20 ft) square solid stone tower. Alex Volkhin has a closeup photo, a second closeup photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on a steep promontory about 65 km (40 mi) north of Aqtau. Site open. ARLHS KAZ-007.
[Kyzyl-Ozen (Kyzylozen, Shugyla)]
Date unknown (station established around 1900). Active. 7 m (23 ft) steel post. A photo is available (nearly halfway down the page), and a fuzzy Google satellite view may show the location. A more substantial skeletal tower nearby is said to be an observation tower, but we need more information on this station, which is mentioned briefly by Kalinina. Located about 90 km (55 mi) northeast of Aqtau on the south side of the Tupkaragan Peninsula. Site open, tower closed.
Urduk (Mys Urduk) (?)
Date unknown. The Times Atlas shows a light at this location, and a Bing satellite view shows a possible light station. More information is needed on this site. Located about 1 km (0.6 mi) from the beach at the southwest point of the Tupkaragan Peninsula, about 20 km (13 mi) south of Bautino. Site status unknown.

Aqtau Light
Aqtau (Aktau) Light, October 2007
Flickr photo copyright Pedro Loza; used by permission

* Tupkaragan (Tyub-Karagan, Mys Tyub-Karagan) Lower (Bautino)
1863. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); continuous red light visible only on and near the range line. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) lantern centered at the peak of a round brick building with a conical metal roof. Building painted white, lantern green. A photo is at right, another closeup photo is available, Natalia Zaderetskaya has the history of the light station (in Russian), and Google has a satellite view. Located in downtown Bautino, the port district of Fort Shevchenko. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS KAZ-008.
* Tupkaragan (Tyub-Karagan, Mys Tyub-Karagan) Upper (2)
1863 (station established 1851). Active; light characteristic unknown. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) octagonal masonry tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern painted black. Clamshell Fresnel lens in use. A photo appears at the top of this page, and the light station can be seen in a Google satellite view. The first lighthouse was built too close to the cliff; it collapsed after a few years. In recent years the lighthouse has been the rear light of a northbound range. This lighthouse is near the westernmost point of Kazakhstan, on the Tupkaragan Peninsula projecting into the northeastern Caspian Sea. Located about 4 km (2.5 mi) south of the northwest point of the peninsula and about 10 km (6 mi) north of Fort Shevchenko. Site status unknown, probably open; tower closed. ARLHS KAZ-009.
Kulaly Aral (Ostrov Kulaly) (?)
Date unknown. Inactive. No photo available, but a Bing satellite view shows the station. Kulaly, the largest and westernmost of the Tyuleniy Islands, is a 25 km (15 mi) long, curving sandbar of an island located about 13 km (8 mi) northwest of the Tupkaragan Peninsula. According to Wikipedia, the island has "a meteorological station with a lighthouse and a Kazakh border guard post." However, the available photos do not reveal a light. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown.

Tupkaragan (Tyub-Karagan) Lower Light photo

Zhygylgan (Zhigylganskiy)
Date unknown. Inactive; previously listed with focal plane 170 m (558 ft); white flash every 7 s. 7 m (23 ft) square pyramidal stone tower, painted white. The tower has not been located in Google's fuzzy satellite view. Located on a promontory at Zhygylgan, on the north side of the Tupkaragan Peninsula. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS KAZ-010.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: South: Turkmenistan | West: Russian Caspian Sea

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Posted March 12, 2007. Checked and revised June 24, 2015. Lighthouses: 11. Site copyright 2015 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.