In the earlier blog post, we covered must-see destinations in Southeast Asia. Here we shall explore a Central Asian destination.
Kazakhstan is a Central Asian country and a former Soviet republic. The borders of the country extend from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at the east border with China and Russia.
Almaty is the country’s largest metropolis sitting at the foothills of the Trans-lli Alatau Mountains. It was the capital until 1997 and today is still Kazakhstan’s trading and cultural hub.
The Central State Museum is the city’s best museum. It offers visitors a look at the history of Kazakhstan from the Bronze Age to telecommunications to the transfer of the capital to Astana. There are many lovely artifacts.
In the entrance hall, you’ll find a large replica of the Golden Man.
Camel statue in front of museum
Downstairs are archaeological finds and the early history up to Ghengis Khan. Next to it is the “Open Collection” exhibiting outstanding ancient gold adornments. Hall 2 has an ethnographic display. Upstairs visitors will see wonderful weaponry, horse and camel gear, musical instruments and exotic costumes dating to the 18th century. Halls 3 and 4 have displays on the 20th and 21st centuries.
Kok Tobe is an 1100m hill on the southeast edge of the city.
Atop of it, you shall find a 372m-high TV tower which is visible from all points in the city. You can get to the top by cable car.
At the top, you’ll find different cafes and restaurants, craft shops a roller-coaster, a mini zoo and a children’s playground. These are all things that you could expect to find in such a place that attracts tourist.
What you might not expect to find is the life-size bronze statue of The Beatles Place, here on demand by fans in 2007. This is the impressive work of Armenian sculptor Eduard Kazaryan and is supposedly the only monument in the world with the Fab Four together.
Panfilov Park is a large and attractive park in the center of the city. It is popular for strolling and relaxing.
At the heart of the park is the candy-colored Zenkov Cathedral. The cathedral was designed by AP Zenkov in 1904 and built entirely of wood.
The park was named for the Panfilov Heroes, 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit who died fighting off Nazi tanks in a village outside Moscow in 1941.
They have been commemorated by a large war memorial, depicting soldiers from all 15 Soviet Republics. An eternal flame burns here.
Green Market is a fascinating large, two-level market that offers visitors the true flavor of Central Asia. You can see stalls piled high with nuts, fresh and dried fruit, smoked fish, spices, ready-made Korean salads, vegetables, medicinal herbs, cheeses, sausages and fresh meat, fermented horse and camel milk. Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. At the cafes, you can get bowls of noodles or fried rice with vegetables.
Kazakhstan Museum of Arts offers the best art collection in the country. Here you’ll find displays of Kazakh, Russian and some Western European art. There is a room of top-class modern Kazakh handicrafts. There are explanations in English. Highlights include Russia’s Mir Iskusstva movement and the large collection of paintings by Kazakh Abylkhan Kasteev (1904 – 73).
Central (Gorky) Park is Almaty’s biggest recreation park.
There are lakes for boating, fun rides, pony rides, an Aquapark, a small zoo, cinema, cafes and shashlyk and beer stands. The park is most popular with families on Sundays and holidays.
Respublika Alany is a wide Soviet-created ceremonial square which provides a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains on a clear morning.
The highlight of the square is the Independence Monument is a most interesting monument. This is a stone column that is surrounded by a replica Golden Man standing on a winged snow leopard. Around its base are statues of a Kazakh family. Behind the monument is a semicircular wall of low-relief bronze sculptures that depict scenes from Kazakhstan’s history from Golden Man times on the left to Nazarbaev to the right.
Central Mosque is a multi-towered, gold-domed central mosque of white marble. It was built-in 1999 and is one of the largest in the country. The mosque has room for 3,000 worshippers and has a finely decorated main prayer hall. It is open to visitors daily except Fridays. Women must be covered head to foot.
Dawn Of Freedom Monument for the victims of the 1986 December protests.
Take a stroll along the pedestrianized Zhibek Zholy. Here you’ll find inexpensive cafes, a few buskers and kitsch art stands.
Big Almaty Lake is located just a thirty-minute drive south of Almaty. It is located in the beautiful Zailiysky Alteau Mountain Range. Here you can enjoy hiking and picnicking. It is a lovely spot and depending on the time of year the lake can be green, turquoise or even grayish. The surrounding forest is amazing.
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