The amazing story of this city is fascinating. Semey (Semipalatinsk) was founded in 1716 thanks to the decree of Peter the Great on the protection of the eastern lands. It was built on the right side of the Irtysh River, fortress was named "Seven chambers" because in 16 versts from it were “Peipus Chambers"- seven dilapidated Kalmyk Buddhist temples.
Town quickly became a major center of international trade due to its favorable frontier location. It attracted commercial people from Central Asia, China, Mongolia and Russia. And business was going so well, that in 1728 customs house was open there.
The fate of many world-famous people is linked with the life of the city. At divers times here lived F.M. Dostoevsky (here he wrote "Notes from the dead house" and "Uncle's Dream"), P.P. Semenov- Tyan-Shan, G. Potanin, E. Michaels, Chokan Valihanov, Abay Kunabaev, Mukhtar Auezov and many other figures of Kazakhstan...
Semey has always been a cultural center; in 1920, a theater troupe was founded in the city; it gave Kazakhstan such illustrious figures of the scene as Isa Baizakov, Amre Kashaubaev, Zhumat Shanin, Zhusupbek Elyubekov. Kazakh Music and Drama Theatre opened here in 1934.
And now the city has a lot to show - State Historical - Cultural and Memorial - Literary Museum of Abay, Dostoevsky Museum, Nevzorov family Museum of Fine Arts, which contains originals of Tropinin, Shishkin, Levitan, Serov and Repin; here is Museum of miniature dolls "Small World" and Kazakhstan's first printing museum.
City has its own Arbat - Semipalatinsk Vernissage near the shopping center "Kyz Zhibek"; on weekends it gathers artists, craftsmen, collectors, and ... just spectators who come here to admire the paintings and crafts.