Tourist Attractions in Almaty
Almaty (Alma-Ata, translates as ‘the father of apples’) is the largest city in Kazakhstan with a population of about 2 million people, which before 1997 was the country’s capital and to this day retains the status of its historical, cultural and economic centre. Almaty is now often referred to as the ‘southern capital’ of Kazakhstan.
Almaty is situated at the foot of Trans-Ili Alatau, which accounts for the unpredictable weather in the city, with sharp temperature drops occurring even within one day. The average temperature in January is -4̊ С, in July +24̊ С.
Two rivers, the Big and Little Almatinkas, flow across the city and form a part of the Balkhash Lake basin.
Almaty’s position in a depression at the foot of a mountain range results in a challenging environmental situation, with smog often hanging above the city.
A little history
Mounds (kurgans) discovered by archaeologists in Almaty testify that the territory of the present-day city was populated by nomadic Saka tribes since the 6th-3rd centuries BC. In the medieval period there was a settlement there named Almatu which was situated on one of the branches of the Great Silk Road.
The modern aspect of Almaty began to form in 1854, when the Russian government decided to build the fort of Vernoye on the bank of the Little Almatinka. In 1867 it was named Verny, and a great number of migrants began to flow to the town from all over the Russian Empire. In the early Soviet period, in 1921, Verny was renamed Almaty (Alma-Ata), which was an ancient name for the entire area, and in 1927 it was made the capital city of the Kazakh SSR. It remained the administrative centre of the Kazakh SSR and later of independent Kazakhstan until 1997, when following President Narsultan Nazarbayev’s decree the capital was moved to Akmola, which half a year after was renamed Astana.
Must see objects in Almaty. Interesting places and attractions in Almaty:
- The Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen (Panfilov Park) is a historical and architectural monument consisting of a green zone with old oaks, maples, aspens, pines and firs formed around the Ascension (Zenkov) Cathedral. The park was founded in the late 19th century, while in 1942 it was given its current name after 28 soldiers led by Ivan Panfilov who were heroically defending Moscow in 1941 against the Nazi army during the Second World War. The park also features the Memorial of Glory, an eternal flame and a series of monuments in honour of Kazakh soldiers that died during the war in Afghanistan.
- The Zenkov Cathedral (The Ascension Cathedral) is a remarkable structure built of Schrenk’s spruce without using nails in 1907, when the region was a part of the Russian Empire. The Ascension Cathedral survived a ruinous earthquake in 1911, which resulted in 322 deaths and a huge number of brick structures destroyed across Almaty.
- The Central State Museum founded in the 1830s is one of the largest and oldest museums in Central Asia. The museum’s collection comprising about 300 thousand items includes artefacts and exhibits revealing the rich history and culture of Kazakhstan. The most famous of the museum items is a tiny copy of the Golden Man from the Issyk kurgan, which is the armour of a soldier consisting of 4,000 parts.
- The Republic Square is Almaty’s central and largest square opened in 1980. The square is a place where popular events and official ceremonies are organised and Nowruz (also spelled Navruz), the holiday of spring and rejuvenation, is celebrated. On the south the square is bordered by the city hall (Akimat), while to the east of it you will find the Central Sate Museum. The main structure in the Republic Square’s is the Independence Monument.
- The Green Bazaar is a classical oriental market where you can buy anything you like.
- Fountains: there are 120 fountains across Almaty working between 25 May (Fountains Day) and 15 September.
- The Independence Monument, a symbol of modern Kazakhstan, is a 28-metre obelisk topped with a figure of the Golden Man (Golden Warrior). Under the warrior’s feet there is a winged snow leopard. At the base of the stela there are four figures facing the four points of the compass - Sage Father Sky, Mother Earth and two children on foals symbolising youth and Kazakhstan’s future. On both sides of the obelisk there are 10 bas-reliefs depicting the country’s centuries-old history. The monument was opened in the Republic Square on 16 December 1996.
- The Almaty Kok Tobe television tower is situated on the top of the Kok Tobe Mountain. The tower’s height is 372 m, which makes it the tallest building in Almaty. It is also one of the world’s most earthquake-resistant structures. You can ascend the Kok Tobe Mountain using the famous cable cars right from the city centre. The length of the cable is 1,620 m, and it takes 6 minutes to travel it from beginning to end.
- The Medeu is the world’s largest high-altitude sports complex located in the Medeu Valley, Trans-Ili Alatau, at an altitude of 1,691 m above sea level. It is largely famous for its enormous skating rink 10.5 sq m in area which operates 8 months a year.
- The Falcon Farm Sunkar can be found 7 km from the city of Almaty, in the territory of the Ile-Alatau National Park, Big Almaty Gorge. This is the only centre in Kazakhstan specialising in breeding falcons. The centre also includes a farm where other birds of prey are reared. The birds are used in special shows, which are among other attractions offered by the centre, which include trips on foot and horseback around Sunkar and its neighbourhood.
- The anti-mudslide dam built at an altitude of 1,733 m above sea level protects Almaty against catastrophic mud flows which occasionally occur on the slopes of the Western Tien Shan. The top of the dam can be reached via a famous stairway of 842 steps also used for skyrunning events.
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