Central Asia is a vivid mix of cultures, nothing that you’ve ever seen before; skyscrapers are surrounded by Soviet buildings and ancient bazaars, any small mountainous village can be an ancient settlement with thousands years of history behind its back. Exploring Central Asia is beautiful, yet, can be very overwhelming. The best destination to start with is Almaty. Why? The largest city of Kazakhstan and the old capital is less chaotic than other post-Soviet cities, but unique Central Asian atmosphere is still there. Moreover, it’s the most convenient starting point in terms of location; Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan are easily accessible from Almaty.
The first settlement dates back the Bronze Age; lands were occupied by the Saka. Many archaeological exhibits like ancient burials, bronze altars, and the Kargaly diadem serve as evidence. In Medieval times Almaty became one of the largest craft and trade centers of the Great Silk Road. Almaty experienced decrease in development in 15th-18th centuries, when trade routes were replaced by shipping. It’s time when Kazakh nation was established. In 1854, the Russian Empire built a fortress Verniy that would later develop into the first Kazakh capital. By the way, modern name is translated as “apple”.
Although, in 1997 Almaty became the old capital and Astana the new one, the city hasn’t lost its significance. Throughout its long history Almaty was filled with famous monuments, parks, museums, and beautiful buildings. One of the most unique cathedrals in the world - Zenkov Cathedral - is located in Almaty! The thing is that it was build more than 100 years ago from wood with no nails! Medeo is a beautiful valley and a skating park of high-altitude; it’s one of the most popular places in the city. There’s Big Almaty Lake, Central State Museum, and so many more amazing sightseeing places that won’t disappoint you!