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About city:

Bishkek (in Kyrgyz and Russian: Бишкéк), formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and largest city of theKyrgyz Republic. Bishkek is also the administrative centre of Chuy Province which surrounds the city, even though the city itself is not part of the province but rather a province-level unit of Kyrgyzstan.

According to the post-Soviet ideology, the name is thought to derive from a Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make fermented mare’s milk (kumis), the Kyrgyz national drink, which is rather debatable. Founded in 1825 as a Khokandfortress of “Pishpek” to control local caravan routes and to get tribute from Kyrgyz tribes, on 4 September 1860 the fortress was destroyed by Russian forces led by colonel Zimmermann, with approval of the Kyrgyz. In 1868 a Russian settlement was founded on the fortress’s spot, adopting its original name – Pishpek, within the General Governorship of Russian Turkestan and its Semirechye Oblast.

In 1925 the Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast was created in Russian Turkestan, promoting Pishpek as its capital. In 1926 the city was given the name Frunze, after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze, who was born here. In 1936 the city of Frunze became the capital of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic during the final stages of thenational delimitation in the Soviet Union.

In 1991, the Kyrgyz parliament changed the capital’s name to Bishkek (although without quorum[citation needed]).

Bishkek is situated at about 800 metres (2,600 ft) altitude just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountain range, which rises up to 4,855 metres (15,928 ft) and provides a spectacular backdrop to the city. North of the city, a fertile and gently undulating steppe extends far north into neighbouringKazakhstan. The Chui River drains most of the area. Bishkek is connected to the Turkestan-Siberia Railway by aspur line.

Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards and, especially outside the city centre, thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers.


Though the city is relatively young, the surrounding area has some sites of interest dating from prehistory, the Greco-Buddhist period, the period of Nestorianinfluence, the era of the Central Asian khanates, and the Soviet period.

The central part of the city is primarily built on a rectangular grid plan. The city’s main street is the east–west Chui Avenue (Chuy Prospekti), named after the region’s main river. In the Soviet era, it was called Lenin Avenue. Along, or within a block or two from it, many of the most important government buildings, universities, the Academy of Sciences compound, and so on, are to be found. The westernmost section of the avenue is known as Deng Xiaoping Avenue.

The main north–south axis is Yusup Abdrakhmanov Street, still commonly referred to by its old name, Sovietskaya Street. Its northern and southern sections are called, respectively, Yelebesov and Baityk Batyr Streets. Several major shopping centres are located along it, and in the north it provides access to Dordoy Bazaar.

Erkindik (“Freedom”) Boulevard runs from north to south, from the main railroad station (Bishkek II) south of Chui Avenue to the museum quarter and sculpture park just north of Chui Avenue, and further north toward the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the past, it was called Dzerzhinsky Boulevard—named after a Communist revolutionary, Felix Dzerzhinsky—and its northern continuation is still called Dzerzhinsky Street.

An important east–west street is Jibek Jolu (‘Silk Road’). It runs parallel to Chui Avenue about 2 km (1 mi) north of it, and is part of the main east–west road of Chui Province. Both the Eastern and Western bus terminals are located along Jibek Jolu.

There is a Roman Catholic church located at ul. Vasiljeva 197 (near Rynok Bayat). This is the only Catholic Cathedral in Kyrgyzstan.[5]

City centre

  • State Historical Museum, located in Ala-Too Square, the main city square
  • State Museum of Applied Arts, containing examples of Kyrgyz traditional handicrafts
  • Frunze House Museum
  • Statue of Ivan Panfilov stands in the park near the White House.
  • An equestrian statue of Mikhail Frunze still stands in a large park (Boulevard Erkindik) across from the train station.
  • The train station itself was built in 1946 by German prisoners of war and has survived since then without further renovation or repairs; most of those who built it perished and were buried in unmarked pits near the station.
  • The main government building, the White House, is a huge, seven story marble block and the former headquarters of the Communist Party of the Kirghiz SSR
  • At Ala-Too Square, there is an Independence monument where the changing of the guards may be watched.
  • Osh bazaar, west of the downtown area, is a large, picturesque produce market

Outer neighbourhood

The Dordoy Bazaar, just inside the bypass highway on the north-eastern edge of the city, is a major retail and wholesale market.

Outside the city

The Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountain range, some 40 kilometres (25 mi) away, provides a spectacular backdrop to the city; the Ala Archa National Park is only a 30 to 45 minutes drive away.


Bishkek has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dsa).[6] Average precipitation is around 440 millimetres (17 in) per year. Average daily high temperatures range from 3 °C (37.4 °F) in January to about 31 °C (87.8 °F) during July. The summer months are dominated by dry periods experiencing the occasional thunderstorm which produces strong gusty winds and rare dust storms. The mountains to the south provide a natural boundary to provide protection from much of the damaging weather along with the smaller chain which runs NW to SE. In the winter months, sparse snow storms and frequent heavy fog are the dominating features. When an inversion sets up, the fog can last for days at a time.

Bishkek is home to Spartak, the biggest football stadium in Kyrgyzstan and the only one eligible to host international matches.[24] Several Bishkek-based football teams play on this pitch, including six-time Kyrgyzstan League champions, Dordoi-Dynamo.

The city is home to the Bandy Federation of Kyrgyzstan which is a member of the IOC recognized Federation of International Bandy.

Bishkek host the 2014 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia – Division I.

  • American University of Central Asia
  • Arabaev Kyrgyz State University
  • Bishkek Humanities University
  • International Ataturk-Alatoo University
  • International University Of Kyrgyzstan
  • Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University
  • Kyrgyz State Medical Academy
  • Kyrgyz State National University
  • Kyrgyz Technical University
  • Kyrgyz-Russian State University
  • Kyrgyz-Turkish MANAS University
  • Plato University of Management and Design

In addition, the following international schools serve the expatriate community in Bishkek:

  • European School in Central Asia
  • Hope Academy of Bishkek
  • QSI International School of Bishkek
  • Silk Road International School

Mass public transport

There is public transportation available, including buses, electric trolley buses, and public vans (known in Russian asmarshrutka). The first bus and trolley bus services in Bishkek were introduced in 1934 and 1951 correspondingly.[38]

Taxi cabs can be found throughout the city.

There is no subway in Bishkek, but the city is considering designing and building a light rail system (Russian: Бишкекское лёгкое метро).

Commuter and long-distance buses

There are two main bus stations in Bishkek. The smaller old Eastern Bus Station is primarily the terminal for minibuses to various destinations within or just beyond the eastern suburbs, such as Kant, Tokmok, Kemin, Issyk Ata, or the Korday border crossing.

Long-distance regular bus and minibus services to all parts of the country, as well as to Almaty (the largest city in neighboring Kazakhstan) and Kashgar, China, run mostly from the newer grand Western Bus Station; only a smaller minority of them runs from the Eastern Station.

The Dordoy Bazaar on the north-eastern outskirts of the city also contains makeshift terminals for frequent minibuses to suburban towns in all directions (from Sokuluk in the west to Tokmak in the east) and to some buses taking traders to Kazakhstan and Siberia.


As of 2007, the Bishkek railway station sees only a few trains a day. It offers a popular three-day train service from Bishkek to Moscow.

There are also long-distance trains that leave for Siberia (Novosibirsk and Novokuznetsk), via Almaty, over the Turksibroute, and to Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) in the Urals, via Astana. These services are remarkably slow (over 48 hours to Yekaterinburg), due to long stops at the border and the indirect route (the trains first have to go west for more than a 100 kilometres (62 mi) before they enter the main Turksib line and can continue to the east or north). For example, as of the fall of 2008, train No. 305 Bishkek-Yekaterinburg was scheduled to take 11 hours to reach the Shu junction—a distance of some 269 kilometres (167 mi) by rail, and less than half of that by road.[39]


The city is served by Manas International Airport (IATA code FRU), located approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of the city centre, and readily reachable by taxi.

In 2002, the United States obtained the right to use Manas International Airport as an air base for its military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Russia subsequently (2003) established an air base of its own (Kant Air Base) near Kant some 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Bishkek. It is based at a facility that used to be home to a major Soviet military pilot training school; one of its students, Hosni Mubarak, later became president of Egypt.


It is possible to find just about any form of music in Bishkek, Classical, Pop, Jazz, Rock … and so on.  Much of the more modern genres are to be found in Cafes and Nightclubs … the more classical venues are:

  • The Philhomonia   – on the corner of Manas and Chui – There are two concert halls, (large and small) which feature concerts of classical, traditional Kyrgyz, and pop music as well as variety shows.
    Box Office (KACCA) is located on the west side of the building
    At the intersection of Prospects Chui and Manas
    Tel: 614015
  • The opera and ballet theater – Sovietskaya – the theatre has resident opera and ballet companies and there are sometimes performances by visiting companies as well.  The season is usually held between Autumn and Spring – although there may be performances at other times of the year as well.  There is a ballroom, which is also sometimes used for concerts.
    Named after Abdylas Maldabaev
    2013 – The theater is presenting its 71st season
    Abdyrakhmonv (formerly Sovietskaya) 167
    Tel.: 661841
  • The conservatory – 115 Jantosheva – occasional concerts by students and professors.
  • Seitek Youth Centre – Abdumomunova, between Erkindik and Tynystanova
  • Several restaurants also have resident musicians – or programs.
  • Concerts are sometimes given in the Sports places and Spartak stadium
  • Several restaurants also have resident musicians – or programs.
  • It is also possible for tour companies such as ours to arrange special concerts of traditional Kyrgyz Music. For example by professional performers from resident company at The Philharmonia or  “Jetigen” – an award winning ensemble of children from one of Bishkek’s specialist Music schools.


The theaters etc. do not show performances every night. When there are performances they often start at 5:00pm. Even in the height of the season there may be only one or two performances a week. There are usually posters outside the venue advertising performances – and occasionally adverts appear in the press or on Television. Except for special performances (by visiting troupes etc.) it is usually possible to get tickets on the night.  Tickets are cheap by Western standards …

  • The Russian Drama Theatre:  In Oak Park – the company performs a range of local and international plays – but performances are in Russian unless otherwise stated.
    Named in honour of Chinghiz Aitmatov
    2013 – The Theatre is presenting its 78th Season
    There are two stages: the Main stage and the Small stage
  • The Kyrgyz Drama Theatre: the company performs a range of local and international plays – performances are in Kyrgyz or Russian,
    The Toktobolot Abdumomunova Kyrgyz National Academic Drama Theatre
    All performances are in Kyrgyz unless otherwise stated
    2013 – The theater is presenting its 86th season.
    The theater has recently reopened following major repairs to the main hall.
    There are two stages: the Main stage and the Small stage
  • The Kyrgyz State Puppet Theatre– performances on Sundays at 11:00am
    M. Jangaziev Kyrgyz State Puppet Theatre
  • The Seitek Youth Centre
    Abdumomunova 197 (between Tynystanova and Erkindik)
    Tel.: 570225
  • Bishkek City Drama Theatre
    Named after A. Umaraliev
    Performances are usually in the Russian Drama Theatre.  Performances are in either Russian or Kyrgyz (as noted). Often hosts visiting international troupes as well
  • Tunguch Theatre
    Chui 168, (at the intersection with Turusbekov – behind the Metro Pub)
    Tel.: 310715



There are several cinemas and many have undergone renovations to offer a modern experience, with multiscreens, quality sound and some even facilities for showing 3D films.  Most of them show films in Russian or Kyrgyz – very rarely in other languages, however there are occasional festivals where “foreign” films can be enocountered.

  • Ala Too – Prospect Chui – on the corner with Erkindik
  • Bishkek Park – in the shopping center on Kievskaya, between Prospect Manas and Isanovna.
  • Dom Kino : the House of Cinema – Logvinenko Street
    Home to the Cinematographer’s Union, which often hosts seasons of international films.  Films are often shown twice – once in their original form and the second time dubbed into Russian.  Other events often take place here, such as jazz concerts and poetry readings.
  • Kosmopark – on the outskirts of town with 4 screens
  • Manas – Prospect Mira, South of Akhunbaeva –
    The Manas Cinema opened its doors in 1966 and at that time was the largest widescreen cinema in the Soviet Union with a hall seating 740 people. The modern cinema has a capacity for 550 people with a large screen, (as tall as a three storey building – the biggest in Central Asia), as well as two smaller halls. It has facilities for 3D films and 8 channel sound system.
  • October – Prospect Chui near the corner with Molodaya Gvardia – Shows films in Kyrgyz, 2 screens
  • Russia, (Rossiya) – on the corner of Prospect Chui and Togolok Moldo – a “multiplex” with three screens, this has the largest screen in town.
  • Vefa Center – At the intersection of Sovietska and Gorky Streets


Ganfan – tastes like laghman with rice instead of noodles

People often think I’m joking when I say that I love the food in Kyrgyzstan.

Compared to other Asian countries, I find it an absolute joy to not be confronted with dish after dish of seafood, most likely due to the landlocked nature of the country and poor transportation network.

Instead, the traditional cuisine bases itself on meat, rice or bread goods, and milk products.

Sure, the more traditional style of cuisine has that meat as either mutton or horse, but today in the big city of Bishkek, you can find most meals using beef for extra tasty goodness.

Actually, the food of Kyrgyzstan has been influenced by many countries and cultures, bringing Russian, Turkish, Asian, Georgian and Central Asian food to the table.

On a more traditional level, here are a few of the food delights of Kyrgyzstan.

carrot salad and plov
Carrot salad and paloo on the right

1. Paloo

Perhaps you would recognize this food better if it were called “plov”?

Paloo is a rice-based dish with bits of fried meat, carrots, garlic and onion that is then sprinkled with herbs or hot chili peppers.

Being a carb-lover, a rice dish that also covers my meat and vegetable group at the same time is a winner.

Or, you may sometimes find this as a vegetarian option with dried fruits mixed throughout.

kyrgyz laghman
Kyrgyz laghman

2. Laghman

There is no Kyrgyz dish I get more excited about than laghman. Laghman hails from the Dungan people whose roots lie in Western China.

The handmade noodles used in laghman actually remind me of my favorite Chinese dish.kyrgyz-laghman

Forget the soy sauce coated noodles in your favorite Chinese dishes. Instead, laghman is topped with a spicey, salty soup that contains meat, peppers, onions, carrots and herbs.

The sometimes difficult to eat thick noodles have a tendency to splash soup around, so be careful when eating laghman and wearing a white shirt.

These places in Bishkek should must be visited before you die.

Ala Too Square

Located in Bishkek, this is a popular tourist location in Kyrgyzstan. It is filled with tall statues and beautiful parks and is usually used for special events and celebrations. This is actually where the famous 2005 protests were held to oust the first president of Kyrgyzstan from office.Ala Too Square


Ala Archa National Natural Park

Ala Archa is a gorgeous national park that contains 20 glaciers, over 50 mountain peaks, 2 rivers, waterfalls, and springs. It stretches over 2,200 hectares and contains elevations ranging from 1,600-4,800 meters.

1-Ala-Archa CanyonAla-Archa Canyon3Ala-Archa Canyon4 (1)Ala-Archa Canyon4Ala-Archa Canyon5 (1)

Burana Tower

The Burana Tower is a large minaret in the Chuy Valley in northern Kyrgyzstan. It is located about 80 km east of the country’s capital Bishkek, near the town of Tokmok.