D271. May 30. A kaleidoscope of Almaty

Almaty, Kazakhstan, was founded in 1854, when the Kazakhs were still nomads, as a Russian frontier fort named Verny on the site of the Silk Road oasis Almatu which had been laid waste by the Mongols. Cossacks and Siberian peasants set- tled around it, but the town was twice almost flattened by earthquakes, in 1887 and 1911. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was a place of exile, its best-known outcast being Leon Trotsky.

Renamed Alma-Ata (Father of Apples), it became the capital of Soviet Kazakhstan in 1927, and was connected to Siberia by the Turksib (Turkestan–Siberia) railway in 1930. The railway brought big growth and so did WWII, as factories were relocated here from Nazi-threatened western USSR, and many Slavs came to work in them. Large numbers of ethnic Koreans, forcibly resettled from the Russian Far East, arrived at the same time.

alamty kaleidoskope

What I have seen in this city is very consistent with what I have seen in Tashkent and Bishkek : a mix of cultures, soviet vision of architecture and urbanism, orthodox churches, creepy buildings and Lada cars but international brands and supermarkets getting in…

alamty kaleidoskope2Frankly, I didn’t find any charm to this city. Though, it is the entry door to the Kazak side of the Tian Shan mountains, where I will go tomorrow with a local I met yesterday… Let’s wait and see…


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