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.