Almaty – Former Kazakh Capital

 

Marot, our Kazakh tour guide, showed us the sights of Almaty.  At 1,500,000 people, it is the largest city in Kazakhstan.  Until sixteen years ago, it was also its capital.

 

St. Nicholas Church was our first stop.  When the Communists took power in the early 20th century, all the churches were closed.  In 1942, when it was feared that the Germans would take over the Soviet Union, St. Nicholas was reopened.  The theory was that if they allowed a church to be open, the Soviet leaders in Almaty would not be shot.

 

A towering statue stands in the center and open metal murals surround the main town plaza.  Across the street is the former Communist Party Headquarters building.

 

 

To the south of town is a mountain range.  A torrent of mud in the 1920s hurtled down one of the valleys, destroying all buildings in its path.  In the 1960s, one of the world’s larger, if not the largest earthen dam was constructed to prevent a recurrence.

 

 

This May, strong, if not tornadic, winds scattered mature trees as though they were toothpicks.  Years ago, mud slides closed the road crossing the mountains.  It’s just as well.  Keep heading south and you’ll run into Afghanistan, not a place that we wish to visit any time soon.

 

 

 

Up the mountain side but below the ski slope is a skating rink whose elevation makes it a place where world record times have been set.

 

The “Green Market” may be called such because it is housed in a green colored building, but inside are housed many wonderful green vegetables.  Tasty Kazakh tomatoes, and any vegetable, fruit, or meat desired can be purchased in this noisy, vibrant market.

 

Adjacent is found a park that contains several WW II memorials.  The park also surrounds the colorful, Orthodox Cathedral.  As with the interior of St. Nicholas Church, no gold was spared in the interior.

 

 

Little kids seem to enjoy blowing bubbles no matter what part of the world you’re in.  Likewise, adults get crazy ideas of how to decorate cars.  In this case, the exterior was completely covered in tires.

 

After an exhausting tour, Larry & I relaxed with his first ever Kazakh pizza.  It was delicious and gave us enough energy to hike to the souvenir shop I had checked out yesterday.  Larry agreed that the abstract deer wall hanging would be a great memoir of our time in Kazakhstan.  Even on a tightly packed motorcycle, there’s always room for a great piece of art.

 

 

3 Jul  Almaty, Kazakhstan    rest day 2 of 3

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