Discover Almaty’s historic old town on our most popular tour, exploring the neighborhood’s Modernist and Stalinist architecture, unusual monuments, and charming walking streets.
The Golden Quarter
Almaty’s historic center, known as the “Golden Quarter” (Zolotoi Kvadrat), is a charming neighborhood of parks, squares and famous landmarks that date to a time that many Almatians consider the “golden age” of the city, when it was known as Alma-Ata and served as the showcase capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. It’s in the Golden Quarter that you’ll find the Soviet era’s political, academic and cultural institutions, like the House of Government, the Academy of Science and the Abai Theater of Opera and Ballet, as well as the elite apartment blocks that housed the native intelligentsia and nomenklatura.
Here more than anywhere else in the city can you witness the city’s diverse array of architectural styles, from the extravagant edifices of Stalinism to the brutalist monuments of Soviet Modernism, and the Golden Quarter’s ubiquitous statues acquaint you with historical figures that in Kazakhstan are household names. But it’s not just these traditional sights that have a story to tell — it’s those unusual elements of the city’s landscape, from irrigation ditches to seashell facades, that make the city and its center special.
On the Golden Quarter tour, you’ll start at Abai Square, a collection of late-Soviet landmarks crowned by the “Queen of Almaty,” the Hotel Kazakhstan. From there you’ll head to the brutal Millenium Square, site of the Orwellian “House of Political Enlightenment” and a curious fog machine. The underrated Academy of Science, with its legendary Zodiac Fountain and yurt foyer, is the tour’s sacred heart, after which you’ll stroll along the tree-lined Tulebaev Street, a pedestrian alleyway which was the home address for a who’s-who of Kazakh society. The tour continues down Kabanbai Batyr Street, once known as “Broadway” for its historic Abai Theater, before finishing with Soviet mosaics and panoramic views from the modernist Almaty Hotel.
What You'll See
Academy of Sciences
What You'll Learn
Why did engineers put an “earthquake machine” on the top of the Hotel Kazakhstan
Why is there a snail sculpture in the Zodiac Fountain?
Which Kazakh figure had a steamy bromance with Fyodor Dostoevsky?
Why do Almatians worship a Soviet rock star?
What is a mosaic of a murder doing on the Almaty Hotel?
Abai Ave. and Dostyk Ave.
Nearby: Hotel Kazakhstan, Kök-Töbe Cable Car Station
2 km (1+ miles)
Downhill, half sunny, half shady
Everything you'd ever want
A charming tour guide!
A bottle of the finest Kazakh spring water!
More advice than you've asked for!
Kabanbai Batyr St. and Panfilov Nearby: Opera House, Old Square
Walk fast? We might finish early.
Have a lot of questions? We might finish late.
Transportation to/from tour