"Bishkek 1991" Bishkek by budapest8
Bishkek Travel Guide: 103 reviews and 262 photos
I came here almost a year after the 'Putch' when Yeltsin stood on a tank
and a few days later Communism was over as the
ruling party and the Soviet Union ceased to be. I had entered
the CCCP to live in Leningrad and found myself living in a city
with a different name, a country with a different name.
The same happened in Kirgizstan which became
Kyrgyzstan and Frunze became Bishkek.
Preshevalsk, the town on Lake Isik Kul became Kara Kol.
(Black hand) . I knew a young Kyrgyz guy in St.Petersburg
and he recommended going to visit his family friends by
the Lake. We managed through contacts in the Tourist
Ministry to get large rooms at the Presidents Hotel which
was reserved for foreign dignitaries. There was an Itallian
film crew making some film about Marco Polo and they had
a whole floor. My balcony looked out to the mountains and had
a 30 meter long balcony. We had travelled for 5 days and nights
on a train from St.Pete so we needed some rest after getting
to Alma Ata where the train stopped, we got a ride with a Georgian
who bred horses for meat to export to Japan.
See more in the Travelogue
Bishkek (Бишкек) is the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
It has a population of approximately 900,000 (2005).
Originally founded in 1878 as the Russian fortress of Pishpek
(Пишпек), between 1926 and 1991 it was known as Frunze (Фрунзе),
after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze. In Kyrgyz,
a Bishkek is a churn used to make fermented mare's milk (kumis),
the Kyrgyz national drink.
Bishkek, at 42?52′N 74?34′E, is situated at about 800 m altitude
just off the northern fringe of the Ala-Too range, an extension of the
Tien Shan mountain range, which rises up to 4,800 m and provides a
spectacular backdrop to the city. North of the city, a fertile and gently
undulating steppe extends far north into neighboring Kazakhstan.
The Chui river drains most of the area. Bishkek is connected to the Turkestan-Siberia Railway by a spur.
Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings
combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding
interior courtyards and, especially outside the city center,
thousands of smaller, often privately built houses.
It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on
both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the
innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers.
Originally a caravan rest stop (possibly founded by the Sogdians)
on one of the branches of the Silk Road through the Tien Shan range,
the location was fortified in 1825 by the Uzbek khan of Kokhand
with a mud fort. In 1862, the fort was conquered and razed when Tsarist
Russia annexed the area. The site became a Russian garrison and
was redeveloped and named Pishpek from 1877 onward by the Russian
government, which encouraged the settlement of Russian peasants
by giving them fertile black soil farms to develop. In 1926, the city
became the capital of the newly established Kirghiz ASSR and was
renamed Frunze after Mikhail Frunze, Lenin's close associate who
was born in Bishkek and played key roles during 1905 and 1917 revolutions
and during the Russian civil war of the early 1920s.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan achieved
independence in 1991, and the city was renamed Bishkek.
Today, it is a vibrant, rapidly modernizing city, with many restaurants
and cafes and lots of second-hand European and Japanese cars and
minibuses crowding its streets. During the Soviet era the city was
home to a large number of industrial plants, but most have been
shut down or operate today on a much reduced scale. Bishkek was
also home to a major Soviet military pilot training school; one of its
students, Hosni Mubarak, later became president of Egypt.
In 2002, the United States obtained the right to use the nearby Manas
International Airport as an air base for its military operations in Afghanistan
and Iraq, naming its base Ganci Air Base. Shortly after the Air Force
had used this name (to honor New York City Fire Department
Chief Peter J. Ganci, Jr. who died in the World Trade Center
terrorist attack on 11 September 2001)
it was found that an AFI (Air Force Instruction) dictated that foreign
air bases could not bear the name of any heroes from the US.
Since then the air base has been officially called Manas Air Base
(after a legendary Kyrgyz hero), yet local people and the media
still tend to use the name Ganci. Russia subsequently established
an air base of its own in nearby Kant.
The Victory (Pobedy) Monument constitutes yet another site in Bishkek that must not be overlooked. The 1985 monument... more travel advice
Several statues of Vladimir Lenin remain, the largest being opposite the parliament building in a leafy park ? having... more travel advice
budapest8's Related Pages
Bishkek Travel Guide
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