Sights of Kazakhstan
According to HOMEAGERLY, the most important, and usually the most inconspicuous landmark of the country is the ancient “Great Steppe”, the birthplace of many modern peoples of Eurasia and the keeper of many secrets of the past. Despite many years of nuclear tests in the Semipalatinsk region and the plowing of steppe lands for grain crops, many millions of square kilometers of this ancient natural complex have been preserved here in their original form. In April, flowers and grasses transform monotonous ocher landscapes that explode with all shades of reds, oranges, blues and yellows. Autumn is the time of harvest and withering of herbs, when the market tables are literally bursting with a load of freshly harvested fruits, and the air is filled with the aroma of hundreds of types of herbs. Crossing the territory of Kazakhstan from north to south, you find yourself not only in different climatic zones, but also in the same diverse natural complexes, each with its own unique flora and fauna – here you can find Russian birch next to saxaul and walnut. The deserts of Kazakhstan are the land of lack of water and a peculiar natural world. The country has many beautiful landscapes and diverse landscapes, the Charyn Canyon is especially popular – “the younger brother of the American Grand Canyon with the “Valley of Castles” and a relic ash grove, the rocks of Zhety-Oguz (“Seven Bulls”), the Saki mounds, Atybaidyn-Aktasu (“White stone of Atybay”), Komirshi (Arasan gorge, Emirsai), Karabulak gorge, etc. The resorts of Borovoye, Alma-Arasan, Saryagach and others were famous throughout the USSR in the era of socialism. Alma-Ata (Alma-Ata or Almaty, which literally means “father of apples”) – this rapidly developing city was founded in 1854. on the site of the Kazakh settlement of Almaty, destroyed by fierce raids and wars, as the Russian border fort Verny, and was the capital of Kazakhstan until the end of 1997. Alma-Ata is located in the southeastern part of the republic, in the north of the mountain spurs of the Tien Shan, at the foot of the northern slope of the Trans-Ili Alatau at an altitude of 600-900 m above sea level, in the valleys of the Bolshaya and Malaya Almatinka rivers. The city is quite clean (except for the air – because of the position in the intermountain basin, smog is frequent) and easy to perceive, with long straight streets and low architecture that bears the unmistakable imprint of Russian influence. The mountains of the Trans-Ili Alatau rise like a wall along the southern edge of the capital and provide an excellent backdrop when the weather and smog allow it. Everyone who comes to Almaty admires its unique appearance, green dress, majesty, mountain peaks, cascades of fountains, straight wide streets, unique buildings and structures. The city has a large number of parks, plenty of space and vegetation, and many of the Soviet-era buildings are strikingly harmonious.
There are a large number of theatres, museums, amusement parks, restaurants, nightclubs and casinos. Highlights include Panfilov Park, a regular rectangle of vegetation surrounding the flamboyant Zenkov Cathedral, one of the few Tsarist-era buildings to survive the 1911 earthquake (especially considering the fact that it was built entirely of wood and without the use of nails). In the western part of the park are excellent Arasani baths, where there are sections for Turkish, Russian and Finnish baths. The Central State Museum definitely deserves attention for its excellent exhibitions on the history of Kazakhstan and a miniature replica of the “Golden Man” – the main archaeological treasure of the country. This is a warrior costume made from 4,000 gold pieces decorated with animal motifs. Alma-Ata has repeatedly suffered from earthquakes (the last in 1911 and 1921) and mudflows (powerful anti-mudflow structures have been created, which in themselves can serve as a landmark, since there are no such structures anywhere else in the world). Astana (until May 1998 Akmola, “White Grave”) is the modern capital of Kazakhstan. The city begins its history in 1830, when the construction of the Akmola fortress began in the Karautkul tract, and until the 1950s it was a small mining village, when Khrushchev announced the “Revival of the Virgin Land”, on which 250 thousand square meters. km. Kazakh steppe were plowed under wheat fields. At this time, Akmola became the capital of this grandiose project, and was renamed Tselinograd. It is now a friendly and rather low town, with few attractive tree-lined streets, but prone to strong steppe winds. The population here is mainly Russian (70%), Ukrainian and German, and only 30% Kazakhs. There are a number of higher educational institutions in the city, including the Eurasian University named after L. Gumilyov, three museums, two drama theaters. It is planned to create in the capital the National Library, the National Museum, the Picture Gallery of Modern Art, the Center for Socio-Economic Technologies, the Business Center, the children’s park, the water park, cultural and health institutions. At the moment, there are no intentions to move embassies, consulates and other official institutions here from Almaty, so the only reason tourists appear in Astana is transit to Karaganda and other regional centers. Shymkent is the largest city of the Middle Ages, which was located on the Great Silk Road. Ordinary city tours necessarily visit the “Holy Place” in the Sairam region and “Arystanbab” – a place of worship for the saints. In the ancient city of Turkestan, there is the mausoleum of Khoja Akhmet Yasawi built in the 12th century. Tourists will be able to get acquainted with historical facts from the life and work of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, with other sights of the city and visit the famous Turkestan fair or the famous Turkestan mosque. In Tamgaly-Tas, the Gallery of Rock Drawings (Buddhist petroglyphs of the Bronze Age) is interesting. In Karakol, the Memorial of the famous Russian traveler and scientist Przhevalsky, the Dungan mosque, and the Russian church are attractive. The Trans-Ili Alatau and Kyongei-Alatau are one of the biggest “attractions” for travelers – 4000 m. altitude plus majestic mountain peaks, stretching in two ridges from east to west between Alma-Ata and Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. This beautiful area of mountain glaciers, wild rivers and steep valleys is used by nomadic shepherds as summer pastures and is also an excellent trekking area for travelers. There are many excellent mountain trails of various lengths and steepness, including excursions right along the mountain slopes to Lake Issyk-Kul. The season runs from June to September. Khan-Tengri Peak is one of the most beautiful mountain peaks in the world and the longed-for dream of any climber or trekker – the majestic seven-thousander of the northern Tien Shan.
The popularity of the peak was brought by the unusually beautiful shape of the peak in the form of an ideal pointed pyramid. During sunrise and sunset, the mountain turns bright red. Therefore, it is shrouded in ancient traditions and legends. Since 2000, in August, the Khan Tengri International Festival has been held at the peak, within the framework of which climbs to the peak, marathon races along its slopes and competitions in extreme types of mountain tourism are held. Lakes Kul-Sei (Kolsai) – these three rather green lakes, striking in their beauty and filled with clear glacial water, lie among the steep forest foothills of the Kengei-Alatau, 110 km. east of Alma-Ata. The lakes are formed by the Kul-Sey (Kolsai) River at an altitude of about 2000 m. There is excellent camping and excellent conditions for outdoor activities and trout fishing. June and August are the best months to visit these places, but you need to carefully monitor the weather – it is changeable in the mountains. Travelers can arrange helicopter tours to the lakes from Alma-Ata or on foot from Sata, the lower lake is accessible by vehicles, but a horseback tour to the lakes along the most picturesque mountain trails is much more interesting. From the mountain pastures near the middle lake, along the 3-kilometer Sary-Bulak ridge, you can make a horseback ride to the Kyrgyz village of Balbey on the shore of Issyk-Kul.
A fantastic panorama of the northern steppes of Kazakhstan and the southern Issyk-Kul basin opens from the pass. Aktau, lying between the desert and the Caspian Sea, one of the largest settlements in the world, located in places where human life seems almost impossible. This city did not exist at all until 1963, when exemplary wide and straight streets, cultural institutions, desalination plants, gardens and parks suddenly appeared here. This “miracle” happened after uranium deposits were found nearby. Thanks to its sandy shores, this city also developed as a closed resort for the “Soviet elite”. Tourism and uranium developments are currently in a doldrums, so Aktau has now lost much of its former appeal. The improbability of Aktau’s existence is increased by the fact that it lies hundreds of kilometers from any other city, and is not connected by any decent roads (most of the transportation was carried out by sea) with any point in Kazakhstan. The surroundings of the city (in those places where there are no quarries) are replete with unique desert landscapes of the Mangyshlak plateau – erosion and desert have “corroded” solid rocks so much that thousands of tiny canyons, miniature mountain ranges and dozens of deep depressions have formed, filled with supersaturated salt water. The city of Taraz is one of the largest cities of the Middle Ages, one of the centers of the Great Silk Road. Interesting sightseeing tour of the city, the Museum of History, the Mausoleum of Aisha-Bibi – a place of pilgrimage for Muslims, an architectural monument of the XII century, and the Mausoleum of Sypatai-Batyr. Lake Balkhash, lying in the east of the country, is a unique natural formation. It is huge in area, but very small, and its eastern half has salt water, while the western part is quite fresh, so even the species of fish that live in different parts of the lake are different. From other large lakes of Kazakhstan, you can visit the beautiful Zaisan in the east of the country, Alakol in the southeast and Tengiz in the center. In total, there are almost 7 thousand natural lakes in Kazakhstan, the total area of the water surface of which exceeds 45 thousand square meters. km.