Spread out at the foothills of the Zaili Alatau Mountains in the Tien Shan range, Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan. Present-day Almaty sits on the site of an old Silk Road oasis town called Almatu; laid waste by the Mongols in 1211, the city left no ancient remains. Almaty’s name means “the place with apples,” and the many varieties of wild apple in the vicinity give scientists reason to believe that this is where apples were first domesticated.
A city tour of Almaty includes Panfilov Park, the St. Nicholas Cathedral, and a visit to the local bazaar where all types of produce, nuts and dried fruits are for sale. Stop in at the delightful Museum of Musical Instruments for a tour and short performance, and take a drive through Small Almaty Gorge up to 5,000 feet to visit the Medeo Sports Complex. Set among the craggy peaks and alpine slopes that bear the traces of an ancient glacier, the Olympic-size skating rink housed here has seen 180 world records set.
PUBLISHED: July 15, 2013