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Academy of Sciences
Tour

Wander the empty halls of Almaty’s Soviet-era “Temple of Science,” visiting mini-museums dedicated to archaeology and rare books while marveling at the building’s stunning murals, mosaics and stained glass. 

The Academy of Sciences

A baroquely-ornamented Stalinist edifice occupying an entire city block in Almaty’s central Golden Quarter, the Academy of Science was the center of scholarhood in Soviet Kazakhstan, a “Temple of Science” whose hallowed halls were reserved for Academicians, a holy priesthood who ranks were awarded to only the most learned (and well-connected). Research institutes under the umbrella of the Academy studied everything from Oriental poetry to theoretical physics, and the Central Scholarly Library of the Academy had the most extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts in the country. 

Nowadays, the Academy receives only a fraction of its prior funding, and its hallways are eerily empty. Perhaps because of this, the building is overlooked by most locals and ignored by guidebooks — yet we believe it is one of Almaty’s true treasures. 

On our tour, we begin by exploring a pair of landmarks adjacent to the Academy, the quirky Zodiac Fountain and the Chokan Valikhanov monument. After deciphering the building’s beguiling mix of classical and Islamic architecture, we head inside and experiment with the unforgettable acoustics of the yurt-shaped lobby. Next, we visit a series of rarely-visited mini-museums, dedicated to rare books, natural history and archaeology, and get rare access to a grand theater with triumphal ceiling murals. In the 1980s annex known as the “House of Scholars,” we explore the world of Soviet “monumental art” - mosaics, murals and the most amazing stained glass window you’ll ever see. 
 

What You'll See

  • Zodiac fountain

  • Chokan Valikhanov monument

  • “Echo Yurt” lobby

  • Natural History Museum

  • Archaeology Museum

  • Academy Library

  • Rare Books Museum

  • Soviet mosaic gallery

  • Winter Garden

  • Museum of the History of Science in Kazakhstan

  • …and more!

What You'll Learn

  • Why are the animals in the Zodiac fountain doing yoga poses?

  • Why is the lobby called the “Echo Yurt”?

  • Why does the emblem of Kazakhstan have unicorns on it?

  • Which Soviet Kazakh writer took a diplomatic trip to Disneyland?

  • What forgotten treasure was found on the Academy?

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 Starting Point 

The Academy of Sciences (Shevchenko Entrance)

Shevchenko St. and Valikhanov Ave.

Nearby: Abai Square, Abai Metro Station

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 Route 

1 km (0.6 miles)

Gentle walk, some steps

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 Included 

Everything you'd ever want

A charming tour guide!

A bottle of the finest Kazakh spring water!

More advice than you've asked for!

...and museum tickets!

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 Ending Point 

The Academy of Sciences (Qurmanghazy Entrance)

Qurmanghazy St. and Valikhanov St.

Nearby: Abai Square, Abai Metro Station

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 Duration 

2-3 hours

Walk fast? We might finish early.

Have a lot of questions? We might finish late. 

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 Not Included 

Various indulgences

Transportation to/from tour

Horse milk

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