Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis, is set in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains. It served as the country’s capital until 1997 and remains Kazakhstan’s trading and cultural hub. Landmarks include the Central State Museum, displaying thousands of historic Kazakh artifacts. In the center is Panfilov Park, home to the bright-yellow towers of Zenkov Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church.
Cultural sites also include the Kazakh Museum of Folk Musical Instruments, which showcases traditional Kazakh harps, horns and bagpipes, as well as the A. Kasteyev State Museum of Arts, which displays historic and contemporary works by Kazakh and Russian artists. Republic Square features the towering Independence Monument, topped with a statue of the Golden Man, an ancient Scythian warrior and national icon. The city’s 371.5m-high television tower, known as Almaty Tower, sits on Kok-Tobe, a mountain and recreation area. Almaty is also a gateway to Shymbulak ski resort and Medeu, a high-altitude ice-skating rink.