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Malaya Stanitsa

Go back in time to the oldest neighborhood in Almaty, visiting the charming Kazan Cathedral with its esoteric “cave temple” and sculpture garden before visiting a friendly bazaar and  some Cossack cabins.  

Book Sunday mornings to visit the weekly pigeon market and see a church service!

Malaya Stanitsa

When Almaty was founded in the 1850s as a frontier fort known as Verniy, its settlers were the Tsarist mercenaries and border guards known as Cossacks. Above and below Fort Verniy they built their settlements, known as stanitsas, with log cabins set along straight rows of poplar-lined streets and Russian Orthodox cathedrals in the central squares. 


The Cossacks would largely flee to China during the Russian Civil War, and one of the settlements, Malaya (“Little”) Stanitsa, was transformed by the Soviets into a productive collective farm known as Luch Vostoka (“Light of the Orient”) and resettled with exiled peoples from the Caucasus, like Chechens, Kurds and Ahiska Turks. Today, this diverse neighborhood is just a five minute drive from the center of town, but it has maintained its historic atmosphere and village charm.


The Malaya Stanitsa tour is best booked on Sunday mornings, because that is when Malaya Stanitsa is most alive. At the Kazan Cathedral (Almaty’s oldest, and oldest-operating, church), we can see a Sunday church service with incense and choral singing before descending into the church’s basement, where the catacombs have been turned into a museum of sacred relics, the “Cave Temple,” modeled on monastic cave retreats and dedicated to religious martyrs of the communist era.


Later, we'll visit a sculpture garden dedicated to the fairy tale figures of Kazakhstan's various ethnicities, learn the story of the socialist club-turned-discotheque before strolling the aisles of Malaya Stanitsa’s Sunday morning pigeon bazaar, where pigeon fanciers from around town buy and barter decorative breeds. We wrap up with a walk around the neighborhood’s most well-preserved block of historic homes. 

What You'll See

  • Kazan Cathedral

  • Cave Temple

  • Kazakhstan Fairy Tale Sculpture Garden

  • Palace of Culture

  • Pigeon market

  • Verny Bazaar

  • Historic cottages
    …and more!

What You'll Learn

  • How did Cossacks from Almaty open the largest accordion museum in the world — in China?

  • Why is Almaty’s oldest church named after a miraculous icon?

  • How do Malaya Stanitsa’s pigeon hobbyists make their birds “dance”?

  • How many kinds of melon are sold at the Verny Bazaar?

  • Why are Malaya Stanitsa’s log cabins dressed in disguise?


 Starting Point 

Ivan Panfilov Statue

Dostyq Ave. and Qazybek Bi St.

Nearby: Panfilov Park, Philharmonic

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1 km (0.6 miles)

Gentle walk, some steps

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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 bus/taxi fare from meet-up point


 Ending Point 

Ivan Panfilov Statue

Dostyq Ave. and Qazybek Bi St.

Nearby: Panfilov Park, Philharmonic



2-3 hours

Walk fast? We might finish early.

Have a lot of questions? We might finish late. 


 Not Included 

Various indulgences

Transportation to/from meet-up point

Horse milk

  • Book a tour by appointment for a day and time that works best for you....

    From 50 US dollars
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