Set against the spectacular backdrop of the snow clad Kyrgyz Ala-Too Mountains, Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards, leafy, tree-lined avenues and imposing statues. Home to around a million people, its majestic, marble-fronted public buildings are interspersed with Soviet apartment blocks and Slavic-style houses with caved eaves and gardens of blossoming apricot and apple.
Originally a Silk Road trading post and then a 19th century Russian garrison, its name refers to the wooden utensil, or bishkek, used to make the national drink, kumyz, fermented mare’s milk. Kyrgyzstan’s major museums, including the State Historical Museum (one of Central Asia’s largest), art galleries, theatres and department stores are found here as well as the giant Osh bazaar – shopping heaven!
Culturally diverse, modern and forward-looking, Bishkek is full of bustling life and energy. On warm summer evenings, there’s nothing more delightful than relaxing in shade Panfilov Park amid cheerful groups and families. As darkness falls, music pulsates from lively bars, restaurants serve up tasty dishes, from laghman to pizza, and the delicious aroma of shashlik wafts from the many street stalls.