The following are some of the sights we visited walking around Almaty.
- About Almaty
- Almaty Central Mosque
- Green Bazar
- Zenkov’s Cathedral
- Memorial of Glory
- Kazakhstan Hotel
- Dvorets Lespubliki (Republic Palace)
- Dvorets Shkolnikov (Children’s Republican Palace)
- Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan
- Independence Monument
- State art museum named A.Kasteev
- Dvorets Vlakosochetany Wedding Palace
- Accommodation in Almaty
Almaty is the former capital of Kazakhstan and a large city with a population of over 1.5 million.
Located close to the borders of Kyrgyzstan and China, the city developed as a strategic point on the Silk Road in the Middle Ages. It remains the largest city in Kazakhstan.
Although archaeological sites dating from the 10th century BC to the 9th century BC have been excavated in the suburbs of Almaty, there are no sights in Almaty that evoke a sense of antiquity. However, the city is dotted with buildings built in the Soviet architectural style during the Soviet era, which can be admired on foot.
Here are some of the sights found during a walk in Almaty.
Almaty Central Mosque
This is a relatively new mosque, built in 1999. Built on the site of a mosque originally built in 1890 and destroyed by fire in 1987, it is designed for 3,000 worshippers and is one of the largest mosques in Kazakhstan.
It is characterised by its golden dome, recognisable from a distance. The white marble walls and golden-domed minaret are 47 metres high. The blue-toned mosaic decoration at the main entrance is also beautiful.
The Green Bazar is the kitchen of the people of Almaty, selling not only food, but all kinds of other things. It is the oldest market in Almaty and is surprisingly clean and well maintained.
The market is not only for Kazakhs, but also for Russians, Koreans, Chinese and other ethnic groups, so the sellers and buyers are cosmopolitan. It is recommended for shopping as it is inexpensive, but in that case, be prepared to pay in the local currency, the tenge. Cards are not always accepted.
A Russian Orthodox church in Panfilov Park, the cathedral was completed in 1907 and is a wooden structure without nails. At 56 metres high, it is said to be the second tallest wooden church in the world.
The exterior is decorated with pops of colour, but the interior is austere, glittering and beautiful. Admission is free, so be sure to visit the church.
Memorial of Glory
This monument complex was built to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the national victory. The eternal flame was lit in 1975. The monument sculptures are bold and powerful. Photography is recommended in the morning as it is backlit in the afternoon.
The third tallest building in Almaty, the Kazakhstan Hotel is 102 metres high with 26 floors and was completed in 1977 and is one of Almaty’s leading four-star hotels.
The metallic, shining oval building is a conspicuous landmark. The golden crown-like ornamentation around the circumference of the roof adds a touch of glamour to the simple form.
Dvorets Lespubliki (Republic Palace)
Built in 1970, this concert hall was renovated in 2011 to a modern, glass-fronted design. The square in front of the building contains a fountain and a monument to the Kazakh poet Abai. When we visited in August, the fountain was crowded with children playing in the water.
Dvorets Shkolnikov (Children’s Republican Palace)
Completed in 1983 and reconstructed in 2015 as a facility providing after-school education for children, it is designed for use by 2,200 children and has an 800-seat auditorium, rooms for various hobby groups, a gymnasium and a swimming pool.
The architectural design is striking, with a golden dome and curved walls of the main buildings. There was also a playground outdoors with plenty of natural materials.
Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan
The largest museum in Almaty, first built in 1931 in Almaty Cathedral, it was moved to the present building, constructed in 1985. It houses the most important collection of historical, archaeological, contemporary cultural and political artefacts of Kazakhstan.
The building is unique in its architectural style, with a blue, slightly flattened dome and a design with linear forms rather than arches.
The Independence Monument, also known as the Golden Warrior Monument, was inaugurated on 16 December 1996 to commemorate Kazakhstan’s independence.
Across the road is Independence Square, with trendy cafés and stall-like shops.
State art museum named A.Kasteev
The largest art museum in Kazakhstan, opened in 1976 and renamed in 1984 in honour of Kazakh artist Abirkhan Kasteev (1904 – 1973). The museum has a collection of more than 23,000 works, mostly from Kazakhstan.
Sculptures are also displayed in the open-air space, providing a contrast to the dynamic architecture of the building.
Dvorets Vlakosochetany Wedding Palace
Opened in 1971, the Wedding Palace was reconstructed in 2001 and extensively reconstructed in 2013. The two overlapping columns symbolise the wedding ring. It is a simple but striking architectural design.
Accommodation in Almaty
In Almaty, we stayed at Gostevoy Dom “Zhibek Zholy”. It is a simple room with toilet/shower and air conditioning for USD 28, which I think is reasonable for Almaty.
Furthermore, the shared space is well equipped, with a kitchen ready to cook if you buy the ingredients, as well as a washing machine and an iron. It is also perfect for longer stays. Further reviews can be found on Google Maps.
We also stayed at the D’Rami Hotel in Almaty. The price on the online hotel booking website was 30,000 tenge per night for a twin room, but we negotiated directly and got a discount to 25,000 tenge. The staff speak good English and are easy to communicate with. For more information, see Google Maps.