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“Verny, Alma-Ata, Almaty”. What a tourist needs to know about the largest city in Kazakhstan

01 March 2021

In this article, we decided to collect interesting places of Almaty and its surroundings in one list. After all, the quarantine will end, and it will be possible to get to know the southern capital better.
In the city

One of the main attractions of Almaty is the Ascension Cathedral in the park named after 28 Panfilov Guards. It was built from 1904 to 1907. It is believed that the wooden cathedral was erected without a single nail, but metal staples were used during construction.
Photo: Alikhan Sariev

The park itself was founded in the 70s of the XIX century. On its territory there is an alley with the names of the heroes of the Panfilov division, monuments to Ivan Panfilov, Bauyrzhan Momyshuly, Tokash Bokin, Afghan heroes, a unique memorial of glory “Feat” installed at the eternal flame, as well as the House of Officers with a military museum and the museum of folk musical instruments named after Douglas.

In the lower part of the city on Budyonny Street there is a real forest of more than 100,000 green spaces. The Baum Grove was founded in 1894, the area is 139.5 hectares.

There are many urban legends about the grove. According to history, in 1918, Archbishop Pimen of Vernon was shot in the grove. It is said that before his death he managed to hide a treasure here – church relics. And another legend says that Pimen became a ghost after his death.

The Central Park of Culture and Recreation, located on Gogol Street, was founded in 1856. It was originally called the “State Garden”. Its territory is 42 hectares.

The park has children’s attractions, a water park, sports grounds, a lake with boat and catamaran rental stations and a dinopark.

The Botanical Garden in Almaty appeared in 1932. Since 2018, a large-scale reconstruction has been underway, for which $ 15 million has been allocated.

174.3 thousand trees, shrubs and flowers were planted here, many of which were brought from European nurseries. So, in the garden you can find a Royal Red maple planted outside Europe for the first time and an arch covered with a Chanticleer pear. The area of the botanical garden is more than 103 hectares.

In 2010, a park named after the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan was opened in Almaty. Its construction took ten years. The park’s territory is 73 hectares. In July 2019, the fountain on the entrance square, which is the largest in Kazakhstan, was closed for restoration, for which 470 million tenge was allocated.

There is a “health trail” in Almaty, built in 1974. It is great for running, Nordic walking or cycling. This place is called “terrencourt”, which means “treatment on the ground” in French. The mountain river Malaya Almatinka flows here.

The terrancourt begins near the Arman cinema, runs parallel to Dostyk Avenue. The route is 4.5 kilometers. There is a pond with gazebos to the left of the trail finish. Along the way, there are quite large elevation differences – from 876 meters to 1,058 meters above sea level.

On December 1, 2011, the metro was launched in Almaty. It has been under construction for 23 years. Initially, the underground road consisted of seven stations, from Rayymbek to Alatau.

A year after the launch, the Almaty metro was included in the list of the “coolest” underground stations in the world. And also became the winner of the international public award in the transport industry “Golden Chariot”. On April 18, 2015, two more metro stations opened: “Sairan” and “Moscow”.

In 1937, a tram system was opened in Almaty. Since the mid-1990s, this type of transport began to lose its popularity, with only two tram routes remaining in the city. In 2015, serious accidents occurred involving trams, and the operation of the tram depot was suspended. Two years later, the DEPO Evolution Park youth loft center was opened on this site. This place is an interesting location for photo shoots.

On May 23, 2019, the competition for the reconstruction of DEPO Evolution Park buildings and structures ended. According to the press service of the Construction Department of the Akimat of Almaty, April 2021 is the planned deadline for completion of repairs.

Arbat and Panfilov Street are considered to be the main pedestrian streets of Almaty. There are shopping malls along the Arbat – TSUM and passage, cinemas. These streets are home to bookstores, jewelry stores, clothing stores, squares, art galleries, theaters, fountains, sports fields, coffee shops and restaurants. In 2017, a large-scale reconstruction of the street took place, new benches and playgrounds appeared. These pedestrian streets regularly host exhibitions of artists, street musicians and dancers gather.

Another pedestrian street in Almaty is Tulebayeva, or Tulebayka, as it is called by residents of the city. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of the film “The Needle”, a sculpture of Moreau was installed here. In the 80s, the A-Studio group was formed on the bike.

The Green Bazaar, which is also one of the unique attractions of the city, has more than a century of history. Its shopping malls are always noisy and crowded. Here, residents of the city buy fresh food, clothes and shoes, and furniture. The central market is also popular with tourists. Here you can buy original souvenirs and taste dishes of national cuisine.

Almaty is called the cultural capital of Kazakhstan by residents of the country. There are more than 20 museums in the city, including the Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Abylkhan Kasteev Museum of Art. Street art in Almaty is developing, and various murals decorate the walls of houses. In 2015, a wall of memory of Batyrkhan Shukenov appeared, and shortly before the premiere of the Oscar-winning film “The Joker” with Joaquin Phoenix, a portrait of the movie hero was painted.

There are 19 theaters in Almaty. One of the largest theaters in the Eurasian space – the Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after Abai – accommodates 793 seats. It was included in the list of the best opera houses in the CIS. The Mikhail Lermontov State Academic Russian Drama Theater was established in 1933, but then the opening took place in Semipalatinsk. And it was only in 1967 that the building was built in Almaty.
Photo: Alikhan Sariev

One of the most convenient ways to explore Almaty is through excursions. As part of one of them, tourists travel the route from the museum of Almaty, stop at the building of the Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after Abai, together with a guide they go to the park named after 28 Guards. During the tour, you will be able to plunge into the atmosphere of a real Asian market at the Green Bazaar. Another tour begins with the Arman cinema, tourists visit the theater and bazaar, as well as Atakent and Arbat. The following excursion program offers two routes. The first is from the state circus, stopping at Astana Square and Republic Square, including a visit to the Medeo skating rink. The second one also starts with the circus, but together with the skating rink, tourists can see the Olympic village.

Each tour is like a lesson in geography and the history of the city. Dennis Keen, a travel blogger, an American who has been living in Kazakhstan for almost seven years, created the Walking Almaty project, designed for foreign tourists who want to see Almaty. He conducts tours of the “golden square”, the historical district of Malaya Stanitsa and the “Green Bazaar”.

Photo: Alikhan Sariev

One of the excursions offers tourists trips to the historical sites of the city. As part of the route “Vernensky streets”, it tells about the little-known buildings of the city. For example, about the Vernenskaya Fortress, built in 1854, and the oldest church in the city – the Kazan Cathedral. Excursions in Almaty are loved not only by foreigners, they are also interesting to local residents. Prices for city tours per person range from 1,500 tenge to 15,000 tenge, depending on the selected excursion.

Near Almaty

The most common routes for guests and residents of the city can be called Kok-Tobe, Medeo, Shymkent, Kok-Zhailau and the Big Almaty Lake.

There is a Gorelnik hot spring on the road from Medeo to the Shymkent ski resort. The water in the spring is radon and helps to cure many skin diseases.

Lake Kaindy is located 130 kilometers east of Almaty. It was formed at the beginning of the XX century. In 1911, the city of Verniy (now Almaty) and its surroundings were overtaken by a strong earthquake. A tectonic collapse occurred in the Kainda Gorge. And in place of a small river, a lake appeared with a flooded coniferous forest inside.

The word “kaindy” in Kazakh means “birch” or “overgrown with birch trees.” However, there are no birches around the lake, and the name appeared because of the birch grove. A little downstream of the river is the largest birch grove in the entire Tien Shan, which gave its name to the gorge, the river and the formed lake.

About 200 kilometers east of Almaty is the Charyn Canyon. The canyon is 154 kilometers long. The height of the rocks is 150-300 meters. Experienced tourists are advised to go to the Charyn Canyon in the spring or wait until the golden autumn.

The blue pearl of the Tien Shan is rightfully called the Kolsai Lakes. Three reservoirs are located in the same Kolsai gorge in the eastern part of the Kungei-Alatau ridge, which is 300 kilometers from Almaty. The lakes themselves are located at an altitude of 1800, 2250 and 2700 meters above sea level.

Akkum-Kalkan (translated from Kazakh as “singing dune”) is located about 300 kilometers from Almaty. The singing dune is included in the world list of “7 new wonders of nature”. A 150-meter sand dune, rising alone in the desert, is located in the Altyn-Emel Nature Reserve.

“Singing dunes”. How to get to know the wonder of nature in one day

The highest waterfall in Kazakhstan, Burkhan-Bulak, is located 400 kilometers from Almaty. The total height of the four cascades of the waterfall is 168 meters.


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