Soviet Art Tour
Find hidden masterpieces of Soviet-era “monumental art,” discovering mosaics, murals and stained glass windows in the city’s Modernist hotels and quirky cultural spaces.
Almaty Soviet Art
Having served as the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, Almaty punches above its weight when it comes to its architecture, with its Socialist Modernist buildings recognized as some of the finest in the former USSR. An important part of that legacy is the public art that was incorporated into the structures: their facades were decorated with mosaics, plaster murals and bas-relief sculptures. This under-appreciated movement, which was had its heyday from 1960 to around 1985, was known as Soviet Monumental Art.
Soviet Monumental Art came in a variety of media. Mosaics, made from tesserae of colored glass called smalti, are the most prominent. Sgraffiti are murals made from layers of colored plaster, and bas-reliefs are 3-D sculptures that emerge from 2-D facades. Then there are stained glass windows, often created with striking slab glass called dalle de verre. The works were designed by talented artists and crafted by brigades at Almaty’s Oner Art Combine.
Walking Almaty’s founder, Dennis Keen, has spent years documenting this rich artistic tradition with the project Monumental Almaty, and now history buffs and art lovers can encounter these works close-up with a one-of-a-kind tour. Since the tour’s introduction in 2022, it has become one of Walking Almaty’s most raved-about experiences, a discovery for visitors and locals alike.
What You'll See
Children’s Theater mosaic
Symbat stained glass
Otyrar Hotel reliefs and murals
Arman Cinema reliefs
Academy of Science mosaics and stained glass
Hotel Almaty mosaics
What You'll Learn
How do Arman Cinema’s relief sculptures combine cosmonauts with the occult?
What makes Soviet stained glass windows different than anywhere else in the world?
Which Almaty landmark has a massive Lenin mosaic made of polished stone that’s been hidden for decades?
Jeltoqsan St. and Maqataev St.
Nearby: Maqataev Park, Musrepov Children's Theater
2 km (1+ miles)
Half driving, half walking
Route map here
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 transportation during the tour
Jeltoqsan St. and Jibek Joly St.
Nearby: Arbat Street, Aerovokzal
Walk fast? We might finish early.
Have a lot of questions? We might finish late.
Transportation to/from tour