Bishkek is the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, located in the Chui Valley, at the edge of Tien Shan mountain range. This great city is usually the arrival and departure point for all the tours.
In the beginning, the city was only a crossing point on the Silk Road. In 1825, a fort was built there to control the local caravan routes and to house Kyrgyz tribes. The fortress was destroyed by the Russian forces on September 4th, 1860.
In 1868, a Russian colony was founded on the place of the fortress known as Pishpek. In 1925, the independent region Kara-Kyrgyz was created in the Russian Turkestan. Following this, in 1926, the city Frunze was inaugurated and became the capital of the socialist republic of Kyrgyzia in 1936. Frunze was a very important Soviet general and war hero. You can still visit his house and museum in Bishkek.
It is only in 1992 that the Kyrgyz Parliament changed the name of the capital into Bishkek after the dislocation of the Soviet Union and the independence of the Kyrgyz Republic. Bishkek is the wooden pot in which the Kyrgyz people make their national drink, the Kumiz.
Bishkek is a big city where you generally stay only for a short time. The Soviet influence is very obvious in the city’s architecture made of large concrete blocks and long straight-lines avenues. The government buildings as well as country's monuments of the Great Patriotic War are also ultimate witnesses to this past under Russian occupation.
Bishkek has a beautiful background made of the tall Ala Too Mountains just a few kilometers away from the capital. You can go there in a short time for one-day or multi-day treks.
The city has some large museums, including the historical museum and the museum of the fine arts, which can be interesting to visit to get a first impression on the nomadic lands. Visit the Ala Too Square in the center of the city to see the great statue of the hero Manas and a very imposing Kyrgyz flag.
In the evening, you will be able to see a ballet or drama in the Kyrgyz theatres and Russian opera. If you’re keen on classical music, visit the Philharmonic State Concert Hall. You may also want to go for a walk in the Panfilov Park, very animated in summertimes, where locals go to eat shashliks, sing in small karaoke booths and try out the many Soviet attractions in the park.
If you don’t mind big crowds, go to the famous Osh Bazaar. This large market is an opportunity to take your first steps in real Kyrgyz life and immerse yourself in the culture of the country. You can also find souvenirs there. However, beware pickpockets.
Bishkek is also known as one of the greenest capitals in the world. Go for a walk in the Erkindik Park (Freedom Park) or explore the Dubovy Park where you will see a statue of Kurmanjan Datka, the national hero of Kyrgyzstan, and many other statues left after an open-air exhibition in the Soviet times.
Bishkek has a cold moderate climate in winter and is very hot in summer. In winter, there is a lot of snow. Rainfall is fairly abundant in spring and autumn but in summer, the city has a very dry climate with high temperatures often above 40°C (104F).The average temperature in winter is around -2°C (28.4F) whereas in summer it is around 33°C (91.4F).
Bishkek has an airport situated approximately 25 km (15.5 miles) from the city. Manas International airport is the country's main airport and has international flights.
Bishkek has two main bus stations. The East bus station is the terminal for minibuses from various destinations around the city. However, long distance buses serve all parts of the country.There is also a twice-weekly train service from Bishkek to Moscow. The train has 2 and 4 sleeper cabs and a restaurant car.