Bishkek is a young capital, but it makes up for what it lacks in historical sites with plenty of parks, museums and monuments. The walkable city is quite lovely thanks to its wide tree-lined boulevards, marble-faced buildings and seemingly countless open green spaces. The upstart capital is still growing and evolving, but there is already much for visitors to explore and enjoy in Bishkek.
Ala-Too Square is a central gathering place for locals participating in political demonstrations, celebrating state events or throwing lively festivals. Built to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Kyrgyz SSR in 1984, the centerpiece of the square was an enormous statue of Lenin that has since been replaced with a new towering bronze sculpture named ìFreedom.î During the day, the square is a great place to relax and soak in the local culture, and at night it is filled with vendors offering photographs and karaoke.
The National History Museum spans one side of the square and provides an excellent overview of Kyrgyz history. Start your visit on the third floor, where prehistoric Kyrgyzstan comes alive through petroglyphs, artifacts from burial mounds, facial reconstructions and artists’ depictions of early life in the country. The gallery also details the Mongol invasion and includes replicas of traditional yurts and garb. The second floor tells the story of the Kyrgyz SSR and the struggle for independence. You’ll find many statues of Engels, Lenin and Marx on the floor sitting near exhibits on World War II and the Russian Civil War. The first floor is sometimes empty but often houses special exhibits, including displays of historic calligraphy and celebrated Kyrgyz authors.
The Museum of Fine Arts is housed in the nearby St. Nicholas Church and features an extensive collection of Kyrgyz folk and applied art in addition to many important Soviet and Russian pieces. The over 17,500 works also include replicas of Western, Greek and Egyptian statues, a yurt and outstanding examples of traditional crafts.
One of the best places to explore on a warm day is the Open Air Sculpture Museum. Sitting at the city’s center in Oak Park, the museum and park were created in 1984 to commemorate the Kyrgyz Republic’s 60th anniversary and include many sculptures created around the theme of ìPeace and Laborî by local artists.
The city is riddled with monuments, and one of the most impressive is the Victory Monument. Like so much else in the city, the monument was erected in 1984 during the anniversary celebrations and features a woman crouched over an eternal flame, waiting for her loved ones to return from the Great Patriotic War. Other notable monuments worth a visit include the statue of poet and musician Toktogul Satylaganov on Abdrahmanov Street, the Manas Sculptural Complex, depicting the legendary hero as he slays a dragon, and the monument to the Martyrs of the Revolution, which stands in honor of the country’s early socialist organizers.
There are more trees per capita in Bishkek than in any other city in the region, and there are so many parks that it can be difficult to discern where one ends and another begins. Panifilove Park is a favorite of locals, featuring a network of walkways, statues of war heros and a small Ferris wheel and amusement rides for children. Prospect Erkindik is another lovely park, especially in the evenings. The silver poplars that line the walkways are lit at night, and the park is filled with a number of monuments.
Bishkek Geographical Location
Bishkek is locatintro the north of Kyrgyzstan in its center.
The estimated population of Bishkek is 1,250,000.
Kyrgyz and Russian are the official languages of Kyrgyzstan with Kyrgyz being the most common mother tongue.
Bishkek Predominant Religion
- 75% Muslim
- 20% Russian Orthodox
- 5% Other
Kyrgyzstan’s constitution provides for freedom of religion but does restrict activities of radical Islamic groups that they believe could be a threat to the nation’s stability.
The Kyrgyz Som is the official currency of Kyrgyzstan.
Bishkek is generally humid with moderate rainfall throughout the year. The summers can become quite hot while winters are accompanied by sparse snow.
Bishkek Main Attractions
- National Historic Museum
- Ala-Too Square
- M Frunze Museum
Other Attractions in Bishkek
- Panfilov Park
- Osh Bazaar