Almaty, for those born before the 90s, is a city of nostalgia. The narrow, tree-lined streets and greying buildings have weathered the ups and downs of many decades, preserving their unqiue cultural history even as the city continues to accommodate the new and trendy.
If you would like to soak up the historical ambience of the old capital, try out the walking route designed by QazMonitor especially for you below.
The starting point of the route is Arbat, a pedestrian section of Zhibek Zholy Street. Though not particularly picturesque, it’s the center of Almaty’s street culture. Take some time to explore around and enjoy live performances and art installations.
At the intersection with Panfilov Street, you will see twin towers built in the style of Soviet Modernism, casting a much-needed shade in the summer. The base of the buildings is a well-known site for graffiti artists, with the main attraction being the mural dedicated to the iconic singer, Batyrkhan Shukenov.
Going down Gogol Street will take you to the Park of 28 Panfilov’s Guardsmen where Zenkov’s Cathedral is situated. The park pays tribute to the sacrifice of 28 men, who distinguished themselves as the defenders of Moscow during World War II.
Named after its architect, the Cathedral was built at the turn of the 19th century and was specifically designed to withstand earthquakes, with all of its rafters reinforced with metal ties and braces. The colorful façade has become no less symbolic to the city brand than Medeu and Kok Tobe.
Moving past the Memorial of Glory (Memorial Slavy) towards Aiteke Bi Street, you’ll see a square building with a large emblem. That’s the Orken Theater.
The theater is a performative arts studio, where the Inertius troupe stages their daring plays under the direction of Raziya Khassanova. Her works explore the inner workings of the mind and thoughts that swim deep in the subconscious.
Abay Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater
It’s quite a bit of walk to Abay Opera and Ballet Theater. Behind the yellowish front of this Soviet-era relic is a stage that holds premieres for European and Kazakh classical plays, ranging from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade to Mukhtar Auezov’s Abay.
If you are feeling up for it, you can go along Kaldayakov Street and take a turn to Kabanbay Batyr Street. Along the way, be sure to visit the statue of Viktor Tsoi, a landmark where the final scene from Rashid Nugmanov’s The Needle was shot.
You can find the Nature Museum just across the Shokan Valikhanov Park, named after the famous explorer of the Tian Shan and Altishahr. The museum is a fun place to go for all ages, so those with small children are guaranteed to enjoy their time here.
Inside, you’ll get to see skeletal models of prehistoric megafauna, the display of the Saka royal gold armor known as the “Golden Warrior”, and collections of anthropomorphic stele built to honor the dead.
Kazakh State Circus
From the museum, go down Baiseitova Street to the Abay subway station, where you can catch a train to the Auezov Theater. Both stations have their walls etched in bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Kazakh folklore and plays.
Coming out of the station, you’ll see the round tent-shaped building that is the Kazakh State Circus. The latest show at the circus features Nomad Stunts, a stunt group that worked in numerous Hollywood blockbusters.
Reach the finish line by walking down the Musrepov Boulevard to arrive at the central entrance of the Botanical Garden.
Go on a meditative journey through the green expanse that is home to flora sampled from all over the world. The best time to visit the Garden is during the blooming season, which offers a sensory overload of vibrant colors and scents, especially in the Japanese section.