We came to Bishkek on the way to Kazakhstan and spent two nights here.
There is not too much to see in Bishkek, so a quick one-day city walk(20 Kms) was enough. Here are some of the highlights of our sightseeing in Bishkek.
- About Bishkek
- Ala Too Square
- State History Museum
- Manas Statue
- Statue of Lenin
- Oak Park
- Panfilov Park
- Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) of the Kyrgyz Republic
- Kozhomkul Sport Palace
- Rossiya Cinema
- Holy Resurrection Cathedral
- Kyrgyzskiy Ekonomicheskiy Universitet
- Toktogul Satylganov Philharmonic Hall
- Opera and Ballet Theater
- Bishkek Circus
- Wedding palace
Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan with a population of approximately 980,000. It is located in northern Kyrgyzstan and borders Kazakhstan across the Chui River. The altitude is approximately 800 metres above sea level.
The city has a long history, having developed as a stopover for caravans travelling along the Silk Road, but during the Soviet era the city was laid out in Soviet-style urban planning. Today, box-shaped housing complexes are still visible.
There are not many tourist attractions, which do include several museums and markets. The largest market in Central Asia, the Dordoi Bazaar, is located here, but we did not visit it.
Our city walk focused on visiting buildings and parks that are reminiscent of Soviet-style architecture.
Ala Too Square
This square was built in 1984 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic, and houses the National History Museum and a statue of Manas. In Soviet times, a statue of Lenin was placed where the Manas statue is now located, and the square was formerly known as ‘Lenin Square’.
Across the road is a flowerbed and fountain area with plenty of benches.
State History Museum
The museum is easily recognised by the large cubic building rising above the square. The museum houses materials related to the cultural heritage of the Kyrgyz people from ancient times to the end of the 20th century.
The statue of Kyrgyzstan’s hero, Manas, is located in front of the History Museum and was installed in late 2011 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan’s independence. The Kyrgyzstan flag is fluttering nearby. A statue of Lenin, which was placed here in Soviet times, now stands behind the museum.
Statue of Lenin
The statue of Lenin is located behind the History Museum. It was moved from where the Manas statue stands now.
Oak Park, next to the History Museum, is one of the oldest parks in Bishkek, and the oak trees planted there are said to be as old as the city itself.
There is a gallery of sculptures in the park which you can walk around and admire.
The park is named after Ivan Panfilov, a hero of the Soviet Union and Chairman of the Military Committee of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic, and houses the Panfilov Monument. It is now a theme park and was crowded with children.
Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) of the Kyrgyz Republic
This beautiful white building is located near Panfilov Park. The path to the left of the Parliament building leads to Panfilov Park.
Kozhomkul Sport Palace
This sports complex was built in 1974. The unique shape of the building attracts the attention of passers-by. In front of it is the Kyrgyz sportsman Bertil Kaba ul-Kozhomkul. Legend has it that he was two metres tall and carried his horse, which was unable to walk, over a mountain pass, and this statue is a sculpture of that scene.
This cinema is still in operation today, and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of its retro facade. Inside there seems to be a popcorn shop and a small animal section. The sign with the word “3D” is eye catching.
Holy Resurrection Cathedral
This Russian Orthodox church was founded in 1947. The contrasting white and blue colours of the building are impressive. There are several buildings on the site and the inside is beautifully decorated.
Kyrgyzskiy Ekonomicheskiy Universitet
Walking around Bishkek, we saw several universities and were surprised by the beauty of their buildings. They seem to feature a fine façade supported by large pillars and pointed decorative roofs.
Toktogul Satylganov Philharmonic Hall
The hall was completed as a concert hall in 1980. It is built in Soviet style and has a statue of Manas on the square in front of it.
Opera and Ballet Theater
Built in 1930, this was the first theatre in Kyrgyzstan to be built in the European style. The dramatic sculptures on the roof, supported by massive pillars, make it one of the most attractive buildings in Bishkek.
A unique disc-shaped structure is the Bishkek Circus. The building, painted in pop yellow and green, was designed in 1976.
This wedding ceremony hall opened in 1987. The exterior has a buzzer architectural style, but inside is a ‘luxurious’ space decorated with stained-glass windows and artificial flowers.
The multiple limousines parked in the main square also create a special atmosphere.