Properly titled “The Park of the 28 Panfilovite Guards,” Almaty’s most scenic and central green space has a martial theme, its grounds appointed with Soviet machine guns, monuments to war heroes, and soldiers’ graves. Ivan Panfilov, the park’s namesake, lead an illustrious battalion of Almatian troops (known as Panfilovites) during WWII, and twenty eight of these soldiers are said to have given their lives defending Moscow in 1941, thus earning them the prestigious status of “Guards” (though the real story, as you will learn on the tour, is quite a bit more nuanced).
Anchoring the park’s military vibe is the jaw-dropping monument to these Panfilovite Guards and an eternal flame to the fallen heroes. This monument, known as “Glory to the Heroes,” is the centerpiece of parade grounds that also include the Brutalist House of the Army (with a little-known military museum) and a notably subdued memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Soviet Afghan War. At entrances to the park, one can find monuments to Tokash Bokin (a hero of the Russian Civil War), Ivan Panfilov (aforementioned) and Baurzhan Momyshuly (an iconic Kazakh leader from WWII), along with Soviet heavy artillery for kids to play on.
These elements all came out of the Brezhnev-era war cult, but the historical heart of the park is from the Tsarist era, two beautiful wooden buildings from the famed architect Andrei Zenkov. The Ascension Cathedral, a gorgeous fairytale church full of golden icons, is often called Zenkov Cathedral in his honor. The Ykylas Folk Instrument Museum, meanwhile, is housed in Zenkov’s fanciful House of Officers.
On our in-depth exploration of this historic park, we’ll visit each one of these historic sites, but we’ll also go off the beaten path to to track down forgotten history, from a modest memorial to victims of the 1911 earthquake to a grove planted by some of the world’s premiere lilac breeders. With a Walking Almaty guide, every inch of the park is turned over, and you’ll be amazed by just what treasures it stores.
What You'll See
Tokash Bokin Monument
Ascension Cathedral (Zenkov Cathedral)
Earthquake Victims Memorial
Baurzhan Momyshuly monument
28 Panfilov Guards Memorial
Ykylas Folk Instrument Museum
Ivan Panfilov Monument
What You'll Learn
Why does a sacred icon inside the Ascension Cathedral depict gulags and Red Army massacres?
How did the sculptor of the “Glory to Heroes” monument, dedicated to Kazakh heroes, sneak in a reference to his native Belarus?
Did Kazakhs ever play bagpipes?
Tölebaev St. and Töle Bi St.
Nearby: Park View Starbucks, Panfilov Walking Street
1 km (0.6 miles)
Gentle walk, some steps
Everything you'd ever want
A charming tour guide!
A bottle of the finest Kazakh spring water!
More advice than you've asked for!
Museum tickets and church candles
Bauyrzhan Momyshuly Monument
Gogol St. and Pushkin St.
Nearby: Green Bazaar, Arbat
Walk fast? We might finish early.
Have a lot of questions? We might finish late.
Transportation to/from tour