Trans Eurasia travel

Your virtual guide to Eurasia! Let's travel together!

Central (Gorki) Park

From Panfilov Park, head eastwards along Gogol Street. After six blocks, at the eastern end of the street, you reach the main entrance of the Central Recreation Park, marked by a curved double row of Corinthian columns. Beyond this entrance, an avenue lined by neatly tended flowerbeds leads to a golden Statue of Maksim Gorky, the writer's right hand on hip in a raffishly artistic pose.

Central Park is Almaty’s biggest recreational area. This park was founded in 1856, as a "Kazyenniy Sad" (meaning "Government (Official) Garden" in Russian), as a nursery for fruit and decorative plants, vegetables. Later, with the foundation of Verniy, the nursery became the place of leisure for locals. Entry charge was introduced as more and more entertainment areas were created. In 1935 it was named after Maxim Gorky, a Russian/Soviet author. Although it was renamed Almaty Central Park in 1990s, many locals still automatically call it Gorky Park or Park Gorkogo.

The Rodina Cinema lies down the path to the north of the Gorky statue. Behind this is a large and boisterous amusement park, including an aquapark, for which a separate admission fee is charged. The lake in the northern part of the park is mostly, rather disappointingly, bereft of water. In the southern corner of the park, surrounded by a toy railway, is the Ak Bota Children's Town, featuring attractions aimed at lots.

At the far eastern end of the park, beyond the amusements, sits Almaty Zoo ( The establishment of the zoo was closely associated with Murzakhan Tolebaev, who identified the site in 1935, and oversaw the stocking of the zoo, which opened in November 1937. Tolebaev was decorated for arranging the successful transportation of species from Moscow to Almaty. But, in a reminder of the harsh and fickle political climate of the late 1930s, Tolebaev, who was close to the Alash movement, was arrested by Stalin's secret police less than a month later, and executed the following year.

In something of a departure from the conservation-focused presentations of most Western zoos, one of the first attractions you reach on entering the zoo is a shooting gallery, where you aim at little model animals. You also get the opportunity to have your photograph taken holding a cockatoo, or with a snake wrapped around your neck. There is a broad range of species from around the world, including the white lion and the hippos. Many of the key Kazakhstani species are represented though not a snow leopard. But in general the zoo leaves sad impression.

Trolleybuses 1 and 12 run along Gogol to the entrance. The entrance to the Almaty Park is in the centerish bit of the city, quite close to the famous Zelyoniy Bazaar, Otrar Hotel, Panfilov Park. If you can't get a direct public transport to the Park, you can at least get near there and walk the rest.