I had seen a photo of a beautiful painted cathedral in the snow, in researching it I discovered that it was in Almaty, that it was made entirely of wood with no metal nails etc. The second tallest wooden building in the world, it has survived massive earthquakes. Even though I don’t like going into churches I had to go as I love architecture. I was living in Abu Dhabi at the time and there were flights to Almaty. So in July 2015 I headed off for a long weekend to explore a new city / country.
I hadn’t done a lot of research as I was focused on seeing that building. So it was a total surprise and I learnt somethings along the way which I will tell you about later in this blog.
Below photos from the airport. The thing I still remember is that the mountains looked like sleeping giants and even in July there was snow on the peaks.
This is an ancient land, formally part of USSR. One of the things I noted as always coming from the desert, was how green it was in the middle of summer. In the city there seemed to be a park every couple of blocks, and the smell in the parks was divine, the air was full of the perfume of roses in bloom. I picked up a map in English from the front desk of my hotel and headed out before it got too hot. I have a good sense of direction, so had a rough idea of where I was headed. I noted however that the street signs where in Russian Cyrillic and I do not understand Cyrillic at all. This became my biggest learning, always get a map in the local language as well as English, it would have saved a bit of stress later on when I got slightly lost.
I stopped along the way to get breakfast and was lucky that the menus had photographs, so I could point to what I wanted. There is the traditional Russian architecture – block style building but there where other styles to be seen as well. Some very colourful
Below some photos from the start of my walk
I eventually found the park that housed the cathedral I was looking for. The cathedral is known by two names – Ascension Cathedral or Zenkov Cathedral and it is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located in Panfilov Park it was completed in 1907. Up close you can see that it is in need of repair again, but the photos still show its majesty.
For me the greatest discovery was the rest of Panfilov Park, I have seen war memorials in a few countries including Australia, US, UK and Slovenia but nothing like those in this park. They are massive and carved in such a way that you can feel the power that the artist wanted to portray.
From my hotel room I could see the spires of a different cathedral so the next day I went for another walk to find it. This cathedral is St Nicolas Cathedral and it is located in another park where you can rest and listen to the muted sounds of life around you. Along the walk, I came across some murals on the sides of buildings, see below
I liked what I saw in my couple of days in Almaty, and would recommend it as a place to visit. On the Saturday night I went out to dinner at a local restaurant. The food was delicious and the trout was the best I have ever eaten.
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#almaty #panfilovpark #warmemorials #zenkovcathedral #stnicholascathedral #summerroses #unexpectedfinds