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Almaty - my first love

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Marina Marina | 16:21 UK time, Monday, 23 August 2010

Hi dear friends!

Welcome to Almaty! Why do I call it "my first love"? Well, you see, I really adore this city! And we also have a musical festival here that is held every year and called "Almaty - my first love". I'm hundred per cent sure that every person first time visited Almaty would love it forever.

'Almaty' or 'Alma-Ata'?

Some people believe that "Alma-Ata" is Russian city-name and "Almaty' is Kazakh one. But they are wrong of course. During the Soviet times the city was called "Alma-Ata" which meant "Father of apple" ("Alma" means "Apple", although "Ata" means "grandfather"). There is a legend which says that the name "Alma-Ata" was created in 30 minutes time during the meeting of the Soviet leaders. Later, when Kazakhstan got its independency, the city became "Almaty" that means "apple" (in a meaning of adjective) and it sounds more Kazakh now.

You see guys, the city used to be famous for its apple orchards. There were plenty of different apple sorts; the most noted one was "aport". Can you imagine - one fruit was as big as a baby head!



But where are those apples now? To all people great surprise the most of the apple orchards were cut down. Instead the new buildings have been built. And now we buy the apples from Uzbekistan or China. Quite sad, isn't it? We all are still really disappointed in that authorities' decision. But there are still apples, peach, and plum trees near houses here. Anyway the apple still remains the symbol of Almaty.

Kok-Tobe Park


One of the places where the apple orchard used to be became the First President Park. And that park is amazing, I must say, although I keep thinking that nature couldn't be replaced by human being's creation.

The First President Park


Almaty is the biggest and the most beautiful city in Kazakhstan. There are about two million people currently living here. I like it for its relatively calm traffic; despite the fact that locals really love big cars. The city attracts a lot of foreigners. As I live in the so-called "business-center" of the city, almost 50 per cent of my neighbors are the foreigners. But I love the historical center with its buildings of the soviet period. There are some quiet streets where I love to walk especially in the autumn.

Business center of Almaty


Almaty is green city surrounded by mountains. When it's not raining you could see the proud peaks of the Trans-Ili Alatau.

The city


There are also many students from different countries who are studying Russian language or teaching English or other languages. Almaty has a number of twin cities: Tucson (USA), Rennes (France), Daegu (South Korea), Moscow (Russia), Kazan (Tatarstan), Sankt-Petersburg (Russia), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Minsk (Belorussia), Vilnius (Lithuania), Istanbul (Turkey), Riga (Latvia), Tel-Aviv (Israel), Budapest (Hungary), Alexandria (Egypt), Urumqi (China), Federal state of Lower Austria, and Varna (Bulgaria). Every year youth from these countries visit Kazakhstan for a cultural exchange.

When I asked my friends what their favorite place in Almaty was they just gave me so many answers that I thought "OK, it's getting quite tough to choose". So I simply decided to attach the pictures of the most beautiful places which are around the city.

The Big Almaty Lake


Charyn Canion


Copy of Eiffel Tower in the center of Almaty


The Medeo Ice rink




Well, friends, I'm looking forward to your questions! What would you like to know about Almaty?

Take care,



  • Comment number 1.

    Hi...today is my first day here..

    I am from Brazil and i am waiting question about my country and culture. I will be enjoy a lot


  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Marina, this is so interesting - I had had no idea that Almaty was such a beautiful city. Your pictures are very impressive - and very inviting! I must remember the place next time we think about where to go on vacation... After all, I'm from a "partner" region too (Lower Austria)as I've seen from your text. This is my first comment on your blog because I was on vacation during the first part of August, so it's a bit late in the day now to thank you and congratulate you on your blog. But I'll do it all the same, and I'd like to let you know that it always puts me in a good mood to read your texts.
    As to the beauty spots around Almaty - how far away from the city are the Big Almaty Lake and Charyn Canyon? How long does it take you to drive there? Are they accessible by car at all? Or does it take a good hike to really get there?
    Looking forward to hearing from you again,
    Elisabeth (Austria)

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Marina,

    Amazing pictures! I did not know Kazakhistan was such a beautiful place. It is lovely to see different countries through this blogging system. You never know, may be sometimes I visit your country. At least I know now where to go if I ever visit your country. I wish you still had those apple trees but anyway you still have the symbole for it as a reminder. There is always a history behind a name of a place but it is a pity that people usually don't know much about it. Only those who are keen to know will find out but the rest will never think about it. Just remembered an important task needs to be done immediately. So leaving my comment incomplete.

    Take care


  • Comment number 4.

    Hellow dear Marina: Beautiful city Almaty indeed, sorrounded by such impressive landscapes (the snowed peaks of the mountains, The Big Almaty Lake, etc.)What a pity most of the apple orchards were cut down. Could we say it is the way we progress? I don´t want to sound negative, sorry. But buildings instead of red apples....It is nice to imagine old times.Thanks and congratulations for your interesting information and photos. Bye, dear Marina. Beatriz.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi friends!

    I'm glad you liked the pictures of Almaty. If you are going to visit it someday it could be just great!

    To Elisabeth: It takes around 4 hours by car to reach the Canyon (on the border with China), and 1,5 hours - from city to the Big Almaty Lake.


  • Comment number 6.

    hello, how are you going, and I found your wonderful country, what a pity it ended with the planting of apples in town! hug.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Dear Marina!
    Pleased to read the new blog, this is great that you've decided to write about Almaty. Sure, majority of us were waiting for the theme. I'm joing the Teacher's three questions related to Almaty (Kim's "The Isle of Apples" blog), those all are logical and important for others who has never been there or, even maybe has never heard about Almaty to find out a little more. Thank you for that you are offering ask you a questions and the theme left by you open with a slight hint it maybe to be continued.
    Well, I'm here on business now, I've my own question to you, for the grand prize... you don't by any chance know, how much does a single-room flat to rent in Almaty? What will it cost (without any furnishings, this I had to see for myself) to have it rented? Thanks again, Dear Marina.
    Best wishes,
    P.S. By the way, I admire your blogs very much. I believe you can keep up the good works. Our country needs you.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Marina!

    Want to congratulate and to thank you for such an intresting and informative stories! I totally agree with you that Almaty is the most beautiful city in Kazakhstan not just because it`s my native town. I love the way you describe our city and you know, the greatest thing is that you make me feel Proud of my city and country! So, Marina, wish you to going on with telling about our country to all the world!

    By the way, i have just registrated at bbc site and was very pleased to start surfing this site from your blog!!!

    All the best!
    Gaukhar, Almaty

  • Comment number 9.

    alma-ata it is like turkish :))

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Marina:

    I'm from Chile and i liked too much your country. I think "Charyn Canion" is similar to a place in Chile called "San pedro de Atacama", so beatiful too.

    Congratulations for your contry Marina.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi! Thanks for this interesting article! For someone living here, it is sometimes easy to overlook the good things. Thanks for refreshing my view.

    I came around to this site seeking a native speaker English teacher to replace me in teacher two 7 year old girls. If interested, please contact [Personal details removed by Moderator]. It's a private tutoring deal, very reasonable. Tnanks!

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi guys!

    I'm glad you keep commenting my blog!

    Dear Gaukhar!Enjoy surfing on BBC! And good luck in learning English!

    To Batista: hug! :)

    To Emat: "Our country needs you" - nice words! thanks)

    To Kadir: Almaty is really looks a bit Turkish ;) espesially new buildings.

    To Hestune: I have read about Chilean "San pedro de Atacama" and you are absolutely right! It looks similiar.

    To Dmitri: Hi, thanks for you offer)) but every personal details were removed.


  • Comment number 13.

    Congratulations! I am from Rome but I've been affascinated about your telling.. good luck

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Grace!

    I think Rome is just fantastic city! Anyway, thanks a lot for your words and welcome to Almaty.


  • Comment number 15.

    Dear friend,
    I'm from China and i think our coutry is not very far from the city, maybe. I also welcome you to China . China has a long hisroty , various culture and all kinds of beautiful views. I believe you will like very much.
    Bless you!
    your friend
    小敏(these are the traditional and wonderful Chinese characters^_^)

  • Comment number 16.

    Hey! Thanks for invitation! I'm really thinking about studying in China may be next year. I'd like to learn Chinese and something from your culture, it is always intrigued me :)

    See you,


  • Comment number 17.

    Hello Marina,
    I am University graduated student. I am from occupied Balochistan which is a very rich country in oil, gas, and natural resources. Balochistan was an independent state since 11 August 1947. But unfortunately it was forcefully merged into pakistan in 14 August 1947. From the annixation of Balochistan into Pakistan, the Baloch nation is bettling against Pakistani occupied forces. This bloody bettle is continued from 63 years. We are not called pakistani but Balochistani. Geographically we are divided into three country such as Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Our total population in these countries is more than 200 million people.

    Anyhow this was a short history or introduction of my country.
    Finally i come to your blog. These pictures are really lovely and atractive, i love these places. Can you explain that why "Almaty" is famous in the name of apple. Why not for other fruits? And also tell that in Kazakhstan which fruit is exported in international markets.
    Truelly Yours


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