The Alma-Ata Tower
Located southeast of downtown Almaty on the slopes of Kok Tobe, an outlying foothill of the Tien Shan Mountains, the Alma-Ata Tower (best seen by enlarging the picture) is a telecommunications tower that can be seen from throughout the city.
The tower was built by the Soviets between 1975 and 1983. It was designed by the architectural firm of Terziev, Savchenko, Akimov and Ostroumov. Unlike most telecommunications towers, which are generally constructed of concrete, the Alma-Ata Tower is a free-standing tubular steel structure that is the tallest structure of that type in the world. And with a height of 1,219 feet (371 meters), the Alma-Ata Tower is currently the world's thirteenth-tallest telecommunications tower.
The tower has two observation decks at the 479-foot (146-meter) and 827-foot (252-meter) levels, but are unfortunately closed to the public. However, visitors can take a cable car up the hill to the Alma-Ata Tower, where there is an outdoor cafe with a panoramic view over Almaty, and which offers such Kazakh specialties as shashlik, spiced mutton grilled on a skewer.
The 28 Panfilov Heroes Memorial Park
I had a chance to visit The 28 Panfilov Heroes Memorial Park. It's in the city of Almaty so getting there is easy.
There is a large monument which is the 1st picture I posted with this tip. I was surprised to see many wedding parties there taking picture/video and also dropping off flowers in front of the eternal flame in front of the monument. They are there to pay their respects to those who sacrificed themselves so that they could enjoy their life and get married etc.
Some may feel the urge to get onto the large dark granite platform (2nd photo) in front of the monument and run across it but don't do it. It's a sacred place where people come to pay respects.
Behind the 28 Panfilov monument is an Orthodox church built in 1870. It's still used as a church so one must remove hats before entering.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Kok Tube is a mountain near the downtown Almaty. It's quite peaceful up there. One side of the mountain is just green hills while the other side is view of the city of Almaty.
Once our car got up to a small parking lot, we got off and got onto different mini buses which took us to Kok Tube. I was told the souvenir shops here were cheaper than other places. There are only about 5 or small shops so not that great of variety but I think they were pretty cheap.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Hiking in Aksu-Jabagly Nature Reserve
I spent two delightful days hiking in the Aksu-Jabagly Nature Reserve near Shymkent. My visit was arranged by Svetlana Baskakova, who is Director of the NGO “Wild Nature. Ms. Baskakova met me at the train station in Tulkubas in the early morning after an overnight trip from Almaty. (The train is an antique no doubt dating to the Sovier era, but my bed in the two-person first-class sleeper compartment was not bad, and the experience itself was interesting.) "Wild Nature's" program accomodates tourists in homes in the village. My accomodations were completely satisfactory, the food was good, and my hosts were gracious. Their young daughter spoke English, Turkish, Russian, and Kazakh (wow!). The meals were excelllent., and there were other backpackers there to chat with--a plus since I was travelling alone. Ms. Baskakova guided both hikes, one down into a deep dry canyon with a beautiful glaciar-fed, fast-moving river and the other upwards into a beautiful green mountain valley with more butterflies than I have ever seen. Ms. Baskakova is a trained botanist who has acquainted herself with the fauna in the area as well. I'm no naturalist, but she would be a great guide for those who are. For me, just the experience and scenery were well worth the trip. The service was exceptional and the price was quite reasonable. These two days were the highlight of my trip to Kazakhstan.
Visit the Museums
Whilst the Museum of Traditional Instruments is the most attractive museum in Almaty, it is by no means the only one worth visiting.
The Central State Museum is a huge, gloomy building just off Republic Square. There is quite a lot of interesting stuff here with exhibits dating from prehistoric times through to the modern era of independence. There are good displays of everyday objects and applied folk art -including a stunning yurt hanging encrusted with embroidery and coral beadwork. The signage, like a lot of the lighting, is barely adequate but a visit will leave you with a fair idea of the history of the country.
The Art Museum houses fine and applied arts - with the applied arts section - textiles, jewellery and costume - probably being more interesting than the fairly ordinary paintings on display unless you are interested in the rather esoteric study of the recent development of figurative art in the region or the particularly stolid style of official Soviet art..
Refer to the website given here for contacts and addresses of artists currently working in Almaty.
Both museums have good handicraft and carpet shops.Related to:
- Museum Visits
All the capital cities of the old Soviet Union staged huge parades in a massive square watched by the Party leaders and their apparachiks from a central podium. Almaty was no exception but now the square is named for the Republic (Respublika Algany) and, although the podium is still there, the monuments that adorn the space celebrate Kazakh history.
A tall column in the centre - the Monument to Independence - is topped with a replica of the famous Golden Warrior, so symbolic of Kazakh pride in their past, and there are large bas-reliefs depicting the great moments in the country's history and some nice sculptures of an old-style Kazakh man and woman.
The Presidential Residence - known as the White House - is on the square, and the State Museum is nearby.
The Green Market
Zelyony Bazaar (aka the Green Market) is the main market in Almaty. Mountains of fresh fruit and vegetables lovingly arranged in pyramids of different colour - try the white apricots if you are there in early summer, they are delicious; dried fruits and nuts in abundence; caviar; Korean salads of every combination of vegetable you can think of; kumys (fermented mare's milk) and shubat (fermented camel milk); salty white balls of cheeses -Safeway was never like this.
There are several cheap eating places here.
The other areas of the market are a bit depressing, jammed as they are with cheap and shoddy goods and anxious people, both buyers looking for a bargain and sellers looking for a sale.
Surrounded as it is by mountains, it's only a short drive to one of the city's favourite recreation areas - Medeo. Whether you come in the summer for the cafes, the walks and the fresh mountain air, or in the winter to skate on the huge ice rink (open on weekends to the public), it will only take you half an hour to get here.
aT 1700m, Medeo is always cooler than Almaty,and if it's raining in the city, it wil be snowing in the mountains, so come prepared for the rapid changes that alpine regions can, and do, experience.
Weekends are always busy, so if it's real peace and quiet you are after, come on a weekday.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Adventure Travel
The view from the top
A cable car ride up to the top of Koktyube -one of the hills hill overlooking Almaty is a pleasant outing. At the top you'll find several outdoor restaurants where you can get a snack or a drink while you decide whether to take the ride down or walk. The view all around is lovely, it confirms the impression you will already have of just what a green and attractive place this is.
The TV transmitter on top of the hill is an Almaty landmark.
This is a popular weekend outing with the locals and therefore very busy.
The cable car leaves from a small station beside the Palace of the Republic between 1100 and 1900.
The gold-starred blue onion domes, turquoise blue walls and white wooden fretwork of St Nicholas's Cathedral (Nikolski Sobar) reflect the charm of the interior. The church is a remnant of Old Russia - much loved and used by the babushkas who have remained in the city as many young Slavic people have left.
Although the church was used as stables for a while, it became a church again as early as 1980 -long before independence saw the Zenkhov Cathedral returned to religious service
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Ascension - known to everyone as the Zenkhov Cathedral after the architect who designed it - is one of the few buildings in Almaty to have survived the massive earthquake of 1910. Built entirely of wood in 1904 (it's claimed even the nails holding it together are all wooden)and painted in a magnificent palette of colours, it is undoubtedly both the most famous and the prettiest building in Almaty. - an truly gingerbread cathedral.
During the Communist regime the cathedral was used asa concert hall, but now it serves as a church once more, with daily services and people coming in and out all day to pray.Related to:
- Religious Travel
The Museum of Kazakh Instruments is well worth a visit. The building itself is charming -a quirky wooden structure with a pagoda-like roof, it was designed by the same architect who designed the Cathedral - Andrei Zenkhov, who obviously had a great affinity for working with wood.
Inside the rooms are well laid out and labelled with displays of wonderful traditional instruments. Song and music is an incredibly important part of Kazakh culture, the repository of much of the folklore, belief systems and history of these nomadic people and the museum is an important link in maintaining these traditions in a modern age.
The museum is open 1000 -1730, closed on MondayRelated to:
The saviours of Moscow
A huge bronze sculpture, known as the Glory Memorial, brutally heroic in scale, is the memorial to the 28 Kazakh soldiers who, it is said, fought off 50 Nazi tanks in 1941 and so saved Moscow from the Nazis.
Their commander was General Panfilov for whom the park where the memorial now stands is named.
An eternal flame burns at the base of the memorial.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Skiing station Chimbulak!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
it's the most outstanding place here. People coming back again and again to ski- Everybody- from begginers to professionals
In 2013 there will be Olympic Games here!!!!!
Well, though we gotta wait for 7 years...
Observatory - Near "Big Almaty Lake"
Unbeknownst to the majority of people is Almaty's observatory, set on a bluff overlooking the twinkling emerald Big Almaty Lake. Set at an impressive 3,000m, this is the 4th highest observatory in the world. With a bit of digging, its possible to get there (it has its own bus), and for $20 you will be provided with some amazing views of the stars, and your own set of two astronomers for the evening. Its also possible to have a saunaq there - $20 and hour I think.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Adventure Travel
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