Bishkek, once a caravan stop on the Silk Road, is now Kyrgyzstan’s capital and financial centre. It’s set in the foothills of the snow-capped Tien Shan mountains.
Wide, tree-lined avenues and numerous parks, a legacy of the Soviet era, make it one of the greenest cities in the world. And with its colourful bazaars and culture, it’s one that’s well worth discovering.
Top things to see and do
- The traditional Kyrgyz national dress and crafts like decorated horse harnesses provide a rich contrast to the documents, artwork and gifts presented to the leaders of the Republic by foreign governments in The State Historical Museum. Some locals still refer to it under its old name – the Lenin Museum.
- Imagine the lives of traders on the Great Silk Road when you see the carefully restored Tash Rabat, a stone building that was once an inn sheltering travellers from marauding bandits.
- Watch the Kyrgyz flag lowered at dusk in Ala-Too Square. During the day you might chance upon concerts, dances, celebrations and festivals or military parades.
- You can fill up on manty – fist-sized dumplings filled with mutton and onions, or lagman – a spicy cabbage,onion and tomato stew with thick home made noodles. On the other hand, fermented mare’s milk may be an acquired taste.
Tips for travellers
If you venture out with expert guides and warm clothing in the winter you might be able to spot snow leopards, ibex and red wolves. Adventurers might want to drive out to the Ala Archa National Park and hike up the gorge, where the flowers – tulips, irises and poppies – are particularly beautiful.