Abandoned: Sauran, Kazakhstan

© Firecracker

Abandoned: Sauran, Kazakhstan

Every now and then you will arrive at an area that could have been designed around the question, WTF?  When we were asked to scout the ancient city of Sauran ‘because we were in the area’, we took a bit of a detour across Kazakhstan and arrived at place that immediately brought that exact question to mind.

Sauran was once the biggest city in Kazakhstan.  Today, only a large ruin remains. 

The ruins have been partly excavated, revealing a sophisticated system of underwater canals that kept the city thriving. The city shifted location on several occasions due to the changing course of the Syr Darya, on which it depended for water and was mentioned in writing since the 10th century but was gradually abandoned as the water ran out. 

Some restoration to the entrance has already taken place but it seems the lack of funds post Covid has slowed any further progress, for now.

We spent two days in + around the old city – apart from two local guys that tuned up for a wander amongst the ruins and a phot opportunity with these strangers in a Land Rover, no-one else turned up.  It was rather unsettling eerie at night, with only the sound of wind, tiptoeing cows, a lonely camel spider visitor and distant Soviet-era trains to disturb our thoughts of the once teeming, busy city that surrounded us.

The film project is now in development.

All images by Gavin McJannet / © Firecracker 2024