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Almaty centre - Opera, TV Tower & Hotel Kazakhstan Photo: Georgiy GeorgiyevAlmaty City

Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and the former capital of the Republic.
Almaty has developed into Central Asia's most cosmopolitan city with tremendous infrastructure, functioning banking and communication systems, a relatively wealthy local community and a large number of foreign expats. Well linked with international flights, Almaty is a curious starting or ending point for a Central Asian travelling Venture, and in its comfort and interesting surroundings well worth a day or two of your stay.

Almaty was the capital of Kazakhstan until November 1997. The green city with plenty of parks and street cafes all over town has long straight avenues and, in the centre, a pleasant example of Soviet architecture with four storey appartment blocks from the Stalin and Chrushchev eras. The Zailijskiy Alatau Mountains rise like a wall along Almaty's southern fringe and form a superb backdrop. The population of the city is over 1,300,000 people. Almaty has a colourful mix of nationalities with Kazaks 51%, Russians 37%, and other nationalities 12%.

Panfilov Park Monument Photo: Jérôme DepeilleAccording to history the city of Almaty was set on the place of the ancient settlement Almaly, which dates from the III century BC. In 1854 it was developed as a frontier fort at the border of the Russian Empire. Artifacts, including those from the Issyk burial-place, a burial-place of a young warrior, located about 70 km far from Almaty. The number of golden handicrafts found there exceeds 4 thousand units which are exhibited at the Golden Hall of the Central Museum of the Republic.

Zenkov Cathedral Photo: Jérôme DepeilleZenkov Cathedral is surrounded by Panfilov Park, a pleasant rectangle of greenery. The Park was named after the heroes of World War II. The Cathedral is one of the few tzarist-era buildings to survive the 1911 earthquake, despite the fact it is built entirely of wood and constructed without nails. It is also one of the eight most unique wooden buildings in the world. After the revolution it was used as historical museum, cultural centre, and just in 1990 again it was given a status of a Russian Orthodox cathedral.

The Central State Museum provides an introduction to Kazakhstan's history and includes a miniature replica of the country's chief archeological treasure, the Golden Man - a warrior's costume made from 4.000 gold pieces, many finely decorated with animal motifs.

Bazaar Stall Photo: Jérôme DepeilleThe Museum of National Musical Instruments is on the edge of Panfilov Park close to the Cathedral, and is located in the building, called the House of Officers, which in the last century was used by military officers for their meetings. Various national musical instruments, the oldest of which are dated from the XVII th. century are exhibited here. Besides an informative excursion about the Museum, you can get a chance to listen to the tunes of all the instruments exhibited.

Medeo is a picturesque valley located 15 km above Almaty. A popular weekend hangout for Almaty's youth, it features one of the world's largest ice-skating rinks For which it is known throughout the former USSR. Further one can climb up a dike, protecting the city from mud floods with pretty views of the surrounding mountain range. At 2,200 m on top of the valley lies the fancy ski resort of Chimbulak with various lifts, where the season lasts from November to April. There are various hikes into the surrounding mountains with fantastic views and good climbs.
© 2001-2010 STANtours last modified June 15, 2002