Updated: Nov 18, 2020
If you are planning to visit Kazakhstan, you should definitely visit Almaty. Although, Almaty is no more a capital city (since 1997 the capital was transferred to Astana), Almaty still retains the title the culture, educational and business center of our country. Here are listed some of the most significant landmarks that for many years were shaping the face of our city.
St Ascension or Zenkov Cathedral
The first and probably the most popular sight of Almaty is Saint Ascension Cathedral. We can not imagine our city without it. However, if you ask a local for the direction to St Ascension Cathedral, he might get really confused. Because locals mainly know it as Zenkov Cathedral, named after Andrey Zenkov, the engineer who built it. For many Andrey Zenkov was truly a hero, who was courageous enough to build a construction as tall as 54m in Almaty – the city, where earthquakes take place every year. The cathedral was finished in 1907 and huge earthquake did not make people to wait long. Just in several years after construction, in 1911, earthquake as strong as 9/10 degree Richter scale, happened. Many even single storey houses collapsed. But the Cathedral successfully passed this “exam”. Up till now it is standing safe and sound right in the middle of the Park of 28 Panfilov guardsmen. Moreover, for the following 70 years, since it was constructed it had kept the title of the tallest building in the city until 1977, when hotel Kazakhstan was built.
However, the earthquakes was not the only trouble that the cathedral went through. Since 1927 until 1985 was used for non-religious purposes. Ironically, the cathedral that was built to become a centre of Christianity in the region, after revolution became a Museum of Atheism. Then for many years it became the Central Museum. All this saved the building from complete desolation. After all, a museum is far from being the worst use of a church in the atheistic country. It happened that in the 30s it was possible to arrange a bathhouse and a vegetable base in temples.
Another interesting thing about the cathedral is that there were always plenty of rumors about it. For example, up till now many people believe that it was built without a nail. However, it is already fact that constructors did use nails while building the cathedral – nails are mentioned in historical archives. One more popular myth is that there are tunnels under the church, where during the civil war priests were hiding from revolutionary. However, 70th , when they made general reconstruction of the cathedral in, they carefully checked all in and around it but found nothing. Despite the fact that it was built with nails and there are no tunnels, the cathedral still stays the wonderful sample of classical empire architecture style and one of the main sights of Almaty.
Panfilov Park or Park of 28 Panfilov guardsmen
I would say that Park of 28 Panfilov guardsmen is the city sight with the richest history. It’s name changed too many times depending on nature cataclysms, historical and political context. Foundation of the park dates back to 1870s. At that time it was located out of Vernyi settlement (Vernyi-faithful) and initially was a cemetery. But after devastating mudflow of 1921 the cemetery was almost totally destroyed. Only the graves of the Kolpakovsky family, the daughter of Leonilla Kolpakovskaya (burial in 1860) and the grandson of Vladimir Bazilevsky (1882; gravestone restored in 2011) have been preserved. The mass grave in memory of the victims of the earthquake of May 28, 1887 was also lost. Since then the park changed its name many times until finally, in 1942, it was renamed in Park of 28 Panfilov guardsmen in honor of Panfilov soldiers, who in November 16, 1941 confronted the 5 times stronger enemy. The General Panfilov Infantry Regiment, defending the most tank-dangerous direction, had only two 76-mm guns and 4 anti-tank rifles. The main attack of the enemy’s tank armada fell on the 4th and 6th rifle companies of the 2nd battalion of the 1075th regiment defending the junction Dubosekovo and the village of Petelino. Both companies showed themselves steadfastly in this unequal battle, having beaten off several tank attacks with grenades and incendiary bottles. The positions of the 4th company headed by political leader Vasily Georgievich Klochkov were subjected to the most massive attacks. Within four hours Panfilov held back tanks and infantry of the enemy. They repelled several enemy attacks and destroyed 18 tanks. Most of the legendary warriors who accomplished this unprecedented feat, including Vasily Klochkov, died a brave death. Several people were badly injured. The battle of Dubosekovo went down in history as the feat of 28 Panfilovs.
What to see in the park
In the eastern part of the park, are located: Museum of Folk Instruments 'Yhlas' (a sample of wooden architecture), the former House of Officers, the Monument to the soldiers-internationalists, and the Memorial of Glory with the Eternal Flame. Opening of the memorial complex was held on May 8, 1975. It consists of: the high-relief “Oath”, dedicated to young fighters for Soviet power in Kazakhstan. The central part of the triptych “Feat” captured the images of Panfilov heroes who defended Moscow with their breasts. On the right is the composition “Trumpeting glory”, its images embody the hymn of triumphant life. Along the Alley of Memory, crossing the entire park, stone pedestals with carved names of 28 Panfilov heroes and monuments of Heroes of the Soviet Union, General I. V. Panfilov and Baurzhan Momysh-uly, are installed. In the western part of the park there is a monument-bust of Tokash Bokin. To the west of the Glory Memorial is the “Alley of Presedents” with Tien Shan spruce trees planted by the heads of state who visited Kazakhstan in 1996/1997. And of course the main decoration of the park is St Ascension Cathedral. All alleys of the park like beams of the sun lead to its center – the Cathedral.
For more than 100 years green bazaar has been one of the main shopping places in the city. The first bazaar appeared in Verny sattlement. These were small, randomly located trading rows. Gostiny Dvor (Guest yard), located at the place of the present bazaar became the first platform where incoming and local merchants used to sell their goods. It was built in 1875 by order of the rich Semipalatinsk merchant Rafikov, designed by architect Kozell-Poklevsky, who was exiled to Verny after participating in the Polish uprising. The place for this construction was allotted in the Verny plan as far back as the 60s of the 19th century. At that time, every large city had its own courtyards, where visiting merchants stayed, where caravans went, and local merchants opened small shops.
After the revolution, the companies dealing with private trade bazaars had hard times. But with the advent of collective farms it became necessary to sell agricultural products somewhere. Vegetables and fruit appeared again in the markets of the city. In 1927, Gostiny Dvor was rebuilt and received a new name - the Central Collective Farm Market. However, the name Green Bazaar became more popular among the people. Tradition to call so the main markets of the city was common in Central Asia.
During the war, the bazaar was the only place where foodstuffs were sold for money, rather than issued by ration cards. Food prices have increased significantly. Many people simply could not afford to buy food at the bazaar. Flea markets began to appear around the city, in which people exchanged their few possessions for food. The structure of the bazaar did not undergo major changes until the early 1970s. These were all the same covered wooden counters. In the mid-70s, a monumental building in the style of Soviet constructivism was built on the site of wooden shops. In terms of the bazaar building had a very clear structure and was designed as a structure consisting of several levels. Under the main pavilion, designed for 800 seats, there is a basement with storage facilities. Between them, under a canopy, stretched the rows of a two-story summer market with 200 seats.
Green Bazaar in Almaty today is a huge trade area of Kazakhstan. It is equally popular among locals and tourists. This bazaar has survived more than one epoch - the period of the privileged merchants of the XIX century, the USSR and its collapse - and remains to be the most colorful place of Almaty today.
Kok tobe (Green Hill) located at the altitude 1100 meters above the sea level. Initially, the hill was named after Verigin - a wealthy merchant who lived at the foot of Kok tobe. In the early 60s of the last century the first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, D.A. Kunaev decided to build here a park. At that time it was planned to build several viewing platforms and promenade alleys, benches for rest and a branch of the restaurant Alma-Ata on the top of the hill. For the convenience of holidaymakers, it was decided to build the first cable car in the Central Asia. Its construction began in 1965, the lower station was planned to be next to the Palace of the Republic. Engineers from Tbilisi assisted with all main design and installation works. The way from the bottom to the top of the hill is 1620 meters. The cabin with passengers overcomes this distance in six minutes. The uniqueness of the project was that with such a length of ropes and a height difference of 250 meters, it took only three pillars, the maximum distance between which is almost a kilometer. The project has provided the main priorities - high reliability, all-season and comfort of visitors. The project was completed two years later, in November 1967.
Between 1978 and 1980, a 372-meter high-tech television tower was built on top of the Kok Tobe hill, which also attracted the interest of the citizens and guests of Almaty to the hill.
In the summer of 2005, Kok Tobe Park was totally reconstructed: all engineering networks were completely replaced, new road was made, fundamental work was done on mountain landscaping, and major repairs of all infrastructure facilities were carried out. After the reconstruction, the appearance of the famous mountain has changed. Also the slope of the hill was strengthened to prevent landslides.
From the very opening up till now , Kok tobe hill is a favorite place for Almaty residents and guests. Unique complex with restaurants and cafes, cozy alleys and nature became the brightest sight of Almaty, where many sought to spend their leisure time and admire the city from a bird's eye view.
The main square of Almaty was opened in 1975 because it was decided that the old square is too little for the growing population of the city. In 1980, officially as the main square of the capital of Kazakhstan, served as a venue for mass demonstrations, celebrations, holidays, military parades, mass rallies, folk festivals. Since 1992, on the square Almaty citizens have began to celebrate Nauryz (Oriental New Year) for the first time. During the perestroika it was allowed only modestly celebrate it. Nauryz became the main, most important and favorite holiday of Almaty residents which annually celebrated on the square. Every year, on March 22, from morning to night, thousands of Almaty residents come to the square to celebrate the national holiday of the spring equinox - Nauryz. There are several yurts, where baursaks (fried bread), Kozhe (national diary dish), pilaf and soft drinks are sold. Festive concerts of Kazakhstan pop stars take place.