Today was an absolutely gorgeous Fall Sunday here in Almaty. Clear and very warm in the low 80’s, it was too nice of a day to spend it indoors. I thought I would show you some of the beautiful parks and fountains that the city has to offer.
The first stop of the day was one of my new favorite places, Moronne Rosso. I was told that it’s a cafe chain from Israel. It has a great menu, relaxing vibe, and excellent location. I could have spent half the day here relaxing and watching the scenery.
After being put in the right frame of mind, I ventured up to Republic Square. As the name suggests, this wide avenue and square are remnants of the Soviet days, where I’m sure many a parade were held. The national government also occupied the main buildings here until the capital moved to Astana. The square is now dedicated to post-independent Kazakhstan with the centerpiece being the Independence Monument, an obelisk topped with a statue of the Golden Man, the symbol of the country.
The Golden Man was discovered in an Iron Age burial mound in southern Kazakhstan in 1969. It is believed he was a tribal leader or prince from the Scythian culture. He was buried in an outfit of red leather covered in over 4,000 pieces of gold, resembling a suit of armor. His unusually tall headdress also conveniently stored the arrows from his bow.
Moving south across the square and up the hill, there are two beautiful fountains in the park that sits across the street.
One of my favorite fountains in the city, however, is on a rather quiet and unassuming street. The fountain represents the Kazakh zodiac, which is a variation of the ancient Chinese zodiac, and I found the sculptures to be quite intriguing. It was designed and constructed in the late 1970’s by Vladimir Tverdokhlebov, an architect whose proposal won a fountain design competition sponsored by the city of Almaty. What I failed to capture in the shots below, is the beautiful mosaic tiles on the floor of the fountain that further illustrates each of the symbolic animals.
Adjacent to this zodiac fountain is the recently refurbished Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences building, with it’s own rather dimunitive fountain on the western side.
Continuing on my walk, I stumbled upon a really interesting and humble bench that was sitting quietly outside of a flower kiosk. Something about the sides reminded me of a Roman chariot.
The Kazakh Opera and Ballet Theatre is very well-known in the region. During World War II, the entire Russian Opera and Ballet troupe moved to Almaty for safety and security. After the war, many members stayed behind and nurtured the next generation of performers here in Kazakhstan. I hope to be able to catch a performance before I leave.
A few blocks away is the Zhambyl Kazakh State Philharmonic Theatre. They also have a well respected ensemble and frequent performances this time of year. As the Soviet culture had a high regard for the fine arts, it’s one vestige they left behind that continues to shine in this region.
Well, another weekend, another update. Hope you enjoyed more scenes of the city. There’s still tons more to see so I’ll do my best to continue to capture what makes Almaty a special place. See you soon…