Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan and a dynamically developing city where travelers can find many tourist attractions and interesting sights. There are many cafes and restaurants, bars, discos, trade centers and souvenir shops in the city.
A little bit of history
Bishkek is located in the center of the Chuy valley, at the foot of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too ridge, at an altitude of 760 m. The history of Bishkek city starts in 1825, when the ruler Madali-khan ordered to build the Kokand fortress – Pishpek. Twice – in 1860 and 1862 the fortress was taken by the Russian army. In 1868 a Russian village called Pishpek was created on the territory of modern Bishkek. In 1878 the village received city status. In 1924 a Czechoslovakian cooperative “Interghelpo” established in Pishpek and brought new technologies and job opportunities, contributing to the development and modernization of the city.
During the Soviet era the city was renamed as Frunze after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze (native of the city). From 1936 until the collapse of the USSR Frunze was the capital of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic.
Since 1991 the capital of modern independent Kyrgyzstan is called Bishkek.
Eating out in Bishkek
The first thing that tourists should notice in Kyrgyzstan is cheap and very delicious food. The local cuisine represented by a great mix of Central Asian, European, Russian, Turkic and Mongolian dishes will really astonish your imagination and taste.
One of the most popular places in Bishkek where you can enjoy a good traditional meal is “Faiza” café. Here you can have a full lunch consisting of lagman, manty, pilaf, shish kebab and other typical dishes for only 10$ per person.
If you want to plunge into the Central Asian atmosphere, you may visit a network of cafes called “Navat”. These cafes were created for those, who want to enjoy Central Asian cuisine and culture. Here everything is designed to show you the true colors of Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia: dishes, interior, plates, cups (so-called pialas), sofas, palaces on the walls and even the music.
There is also Yr-Kese restaurant in Bishkek for those who are interested in tasting exclusively Kyrgyz cuisine. Such dishes as kuurdak, shorpo, Kyrgyz salads and desserts will impress you. The interior of “Yr-Kese” is also decorated in Kyrgyz traditional style and the visitors can also enjoy live music represented by Kyrgyz “komuzchu” (musicians playing the Kyrgyz national instrument “komuz”).
Nevertheless, in Bishkek there are also many modern cafes and coffee bars created up to European standards. Among the most popular places are: “Sierra Coffee”, “Adriano”, “Bublik” and others.
Museums in Bishkek
Kyrgyz State Historical Museum
There are not that many museums in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, but the Kyrgyz State Historical Museum is really impressive in its architectural implementation and worth mentioning. It is located in the central square Ala-Too. Here travelers can plunge into different historical and cultural periods of the Kyrgyz people. Travelers can see clothes, national musical instruments, traditional dishes and elements of décor of the ancient dwellings of Kyrgyz nomads. They can also read some ancient documents and official reports made during the Russian empire rule and in the Soviet times.
Gapar Aitiev Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts
In the Gapar Aitiev Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts you will find numerous works by Kyrgyz artists. The museum itself is a large building consisting of several floors and different galleries. Many artwork exhibitions are held every year in the museum including some exhibitions of works by foreign artists.
Memorial House-Museum of Olga Manouilova
The Memorial House-Museum of Olga Manouilova is the place where Olga Manouilova lived. She was a prominent sculptor of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic. The museum-house consists of several rooms, a beautiful garden and a hall where the works by Olga Manouilova are exhibited. For the most part of her life Olga Manouilova lived in Frunze (curr. Bishkek) where she created about 600 works. These were dedicated to the nations and people of the USSR and their feats.
Memorial House-Museum of Semyon Chuikov
Semyon Chuikov was a famous Russian artist who lived in Moscow and Frunze (curr. Bishkek). In 1949 he bought a house in Bishkek and regularly came here in search of inspiration. Some of his works were created in this house. Practically until his death, Chuikov lived in the two cities, but in 1979 he left his house in Frunze forever. In the Memorial House-Museum of Chuikov visitors can see the works of this artist, including his Indian collection and the famous “Daughter of the Soviet Kirghizia”.
Theaters of Bishkek
The theatres of Bishkek are represented by the Kyrgyz National Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Russian Drama Theatre, the Kyrgyz Drama Theatre and the Kyrgyz State Puppet Theatre. The repertoire of the first one includes the classical repertoire of the world’s ballet and opera theatres: “Swan Lake”, “Giselle”, “Don Quixote”, “Carmen” and others. The Russian Drama Theatre repertoire consists of the spectacles based on pieces written in Russian language by such outstanding and famous authors as the great Kyrgyz writer Chinguiz Aitmatov. The spectacles of the Kyrgyz Drama Theatre are held in Kyrgyz language.
The theatres of Kyrgyzstan are based on the Russian tradition. It is the heritage of the Soviet Union as before the Soviet period Kyrgyz people never had a theatre in its classical European understanding. The average prices for visiting usually do not exceed 4-5 dollars.
Travelers can be impressed by a large number of modern trade centers in Bishkek. These are Bishkek-Park, Asia Mall, GUM, TSUM, Dordoi Plaza and others. They consist of supermarkets, unlimited quantity of shops and boutiques, cafes and restaurants, cinema halls, bank offices etc. The shop centers are constructed according to the newest modern architecture technologies and include all modern conveniences. There you can find national souvenir shops for buying great gifts to your relatives and friends in memory of Kyrgyzstan.
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