Almaty Apple Tree City of Kazakhstan

The humble apple, perhaps the world’s most popular fruit, has its origins in the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan, from whence it has spread across the world.

The former capital, and largest city in Kazakhstan, Almaty is named after the apple tree. Indeed, apple trees are a fairly common sight in the city.

Almaty is attractively located at the foot of the Zailiyskogo Alatau Mountains, which is in the most northerly section of the Tien Shan mountain range where the altitudes range from 500 to 1000 meters above sea level. Because of a combination of its altitude and its position far from the open sea in Central Asia, Almaty experiences very cold winters, which makes it a popular ice skating and skiing resort. In fact, it is home to one of the world’s highest outdoor Olympic-standard skating rinks the Medeo rink that is located on the eastern outskirts of Almaty at an altitude of 1,690 metres and which has an impressive area of 10,500 square meters of ice.

One of the best ways to get your bearings in the city is to head to the peak of the hill Kok-Tobe, which is easily accessible by cable car. It’s not hard to miss as the hill is topped by a 350metre-high television tower. Assuming that the weather is clear, you can get some great panoramic views from the viewing area. As well as the view and the tower, there is hotel, amusement park, small zoo, recreation areas and cafes on Kok-Tobe, as it is also a popular place for locals to congregate.

One of the city’s newest attractions is First Presidents Park, which was named after Kazakhstan’s first and only modern President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who, it is claimed, was voted for by 94.5% of the eligible voting population at the last election and so graciously accepted another five year term. The park features a number of fountains and water features, plus an ornate semicircular colonnade what is used as an amphitheatre in which to stage concerts and other public events.

Because Almaty is the biggest city and the commercial hub for Kazakhstan it is quite sophisticated and modern. It has a number of popular nightclubs, good shopping and accommodation, and a great variety of restaurants. There are many direct flights from Europe, Asia and the Middle East and rail connections with China and Russia for those who quite like the romance of long train journeys.

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