City Bishkek

Bishkek is the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic. It is the political, economic, scientific and cultural centre of the country, and the main transport junction of the Republic and the Chui oblast (province). President of the Kyrgyz Republic, President?s Administration, Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament), Government, Supreme Court and National Bank of the country work in Bishkek. Embassies of foreign countries, Offices of the World Bank, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Asian Development Bank, Central Asian Bank of Cooperation and Development and International organizations are located in Bishkek. Administration of the Chui oblast is also in Bishkek.

Population of Bishkek is 1 million people.

Bishkek is located in the central part of the Chui valley, in the foothills of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountains at the altitude of 700 m - 850 m. Summer in Bishkek is hot and dry. Temperature in July is sometimes up to +42? C. The average winter temperature is -7? C. Snow in winter is not more than 15 cm. The average annual temperature is +10? C. The average annual precipitation is 400 mm. There are about 322 sunny days in a year. The average humidity in July is 38%, in January 68%. The average atmospheric pressure is 928,8.

Bishkek as a city appeared near the Pishpek fortress which was built in 1825 on the ancient trade road from Central Asia to China at the cross with Verniy road.

The fortress was constructed by Modali Lashkor Kumbeli, the governor of Tashkent from the Kokand Khanate, who tried to conquer the Kyrgys of Chui valley. The fortress had the area of 6 hectares. The architecture of the fortress is dated back to the late Middle Ages. The fortress consisted of a round earthen wall and high strong clay walls with corner towers. It was surrounded with a moat full of water. Inside the fortress there were: barracks for soldiers of the Kokand military detachment, mosque, bazaar, zindan (underground prison), warehouses and other buildings. Houses of craftsmen and traders, caravanserais and work shops were built around the fortress.

The fortress was assaulted and destroyed by Russian troops in 1860 - 1862.

In 1864 during the march of the Russian troops headed by Colonel M.Cherenev from the city of Verniy (now Almaty) to Aulie-Ata a post-picket was established near the ruins of the Pishpek fortress on the road Verniy - Tashkent. Soon several families settled near the post, then a bazaar appeared. At the end of 1860-s, Alamedin and Pishpek settlements of migrants appeared near the ruins of the fortress.

In 1867 the Tokmak uyezd (administrative unit) was established with its centre in Tokmak. But the location of Tokmak was not so advantageous as location of Pishpek. Pishpek was located at the cross-road of caravan ways from Kashgar, Sir-Darya and Fergana, at the conjunction of four mail roads from Verniy, Tashkent, Karakol and Naryn. Therefore, in spring 1878 administrative institutions were transferred to Pishpek from Tokmak. Pishpek became administrative city of Semirechye province of Turkestan general-governorship of Russia.

Governor-General G.Kolpakovsky approved a general construction plan of the city. The plan envisaged the system of straight streets, more progressive in comparison to the medieval construction planning which existed in the cities of Central Asia. Streets, blocks, squares were planned the same year. This was the first European-type city in Kyrgyzstan.

According to the census, the population of Pishpek in 1897 was 6600 people of different nationalities. The city was inhabited by Russians, Ukranians, Belorussians, Kyrgyz, Dungans, Tatars, Uzbeks. People were engaged in farming, trading and craftsmanship.

As described by city administrator Ilya Terentyev, at the end of the 19-th century there were 2 leather factories, 1 oil-mill, 3 wine-cellars in Pishpek. There were 752 houses in the city, from which only 6 houses were made of fired brick. Later there appeared a typography, vodka-producing factory, repair shops and a smithy. There were three colleges in the city: a two-grade boys? college, one-grade girls? college and a horticultural college.

There were mainly one-story buildings in the city. Houses were built of clay, adobe, fired brick and wood. Roofs were made of straw, cane, clay and roof iron. The dwelling houses of the early 20-th century had a rather modest architecture. Production buildings were rather primitive. The most significant were the cult buildings.

Citizens of Pishpek attached much importance to planting trees and gardens in the city. The Elm Grove was planted in 1883 under the supervision of the gardener A.Fetisov. The Oak Park was planted in 1898. The Erkindik Boulevard was planted in 1902. There was a City Park on the place of the Park named after Panfilov.

After the October Revolution Pishpek became the centre of revolutionary struggle in the north of Kyrgyzstan. The Soviet Power was established in Bishkek on 1 January 1918.

In August 1924 a railway was constructed from Lugovaya station to Pishpek, which connected Kyrgyzstan with other economic regions of Russia.

In 1924 national-state delimitation of Central Asia took place, and on 28 December 1924 Pishpek became the administrative and political centre of the Kyrgyz Autonomous Region (Oblast).

In 1926 Pishpek was renamed in Frunze in honour of M.V.Frunze, a famous Communist leader and Soviet public figure who was born there, and became the capital of the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic).

On 5 December 1936 the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic was formed, the capital of which became the city of Frunze.

In 1991 Frunze was renamed in Bishkek.

Industrial construction in the city started in 1925.

At the initial stage of industrial development an important role belonged to the Checho-slovakian Cooperative ?Intergelpo? (?Mutual Assistance?) which began to construct its enterprises in Kyrgyzstan in 1925. ?Intergelpo? built the leather factory, cloth mill, knitted goods and furniture factories, mechanical-casting, tailoring shoemaking and other workshops.

The city began to develop rapidly and by the end of the 1940-s Frunze has developed into a large industrial and cultural centre.

The intensive development of industry and civil construction started after the Great World War, because during the war many enterprises and highly qualified specialists were evacuated to Frunze from the regions occupied by German troops. At that period of time many qualified engineers, technicians, specialists, workers, teachers, people of arts were sent to Kyrgyzstan from Moscow, Leningrad and other developed regions of the Soviet Union. Metal-working and machine-building industries increased considerably their capacities at that time.

The first telephone station was put into operation in 1912. Construction of the first water-pipe was started in 1930. Construction of the city sewerage-system began in 1946. The first diesel power-station was put into operation in 1931. The first aggregate of the city central heating station started to function in 1961. The first trolley-bus line was put into operation in 1951. Liquefied gas began to be used from 1959, and natural gas from 1970. The first radio relay centre was equipped in the city in 1926 and began to function in 1927. The first TV programs were broadcasted in 1958. The first civil aviation line Frunze-Tashkent-Leninabad-Fergana-Andijan-Osh was opened in 1930.

In 1937 the first topographic survey of the city was made, on the basis of which the General city plan was worked out. Construction of the city according to the General plan started in 1940. Later some more city general plans were elaborated.

Within a short period of time Kyrgyzstan has passed the way in the field of architecture and civil engineering from a nomadic yurta and clay houses to modern buildings and constructions. Several public buildings with interesting architecture have been built in the city.

In 1924 a railway station was built from brick and wood in a modern style. The Pishpek railway station represents a typical example of ?provincial modern? style of the first quarter of the 20-th century.

The first major construction in Frunze was the Sovnarkom building (now Friendship House) built in 1928. The architecture of the building was designed by engineer A.Zenkov using the Central Asian colouring. The building has a cupola and lancet windows. The decor of the building has the elements of Central-Asian architecture.

The major construction of 1940-s was the Administrative building (now Chui Oblast Administration), designed by engineer Yu.Dubov and built in 1936. The building has a monumental exterior, it was built in the style of constructivism and reserved classical order system. Architect Korbutovsky introduced elements of provincial modern style in the facade of the building. Precious types of nut tree, Karelian birch, oak were used in the interior decoration. The walls of the conference hall were decorated by well-known Hungarian painter Bela Wits and Hungarian sculptor Laslo Mesarosh.

Elements of classical architecture were used in construction of the Medical Institute (at the cross of Moskovskaya and Togolok Moldo streets) designed by architect F.Steblin and built in 1939, and the second building of the Medical Institute in Logvinenko street designed by architect S.Saakian and built in 1940.

The Frunze Railway Station was designed by architect A.Limar and was built in 1938.

A lot of monumental buildings with classical architectural elements were constructed in the years after the war, they are: City Administration building (architect P.Ivanov), Polytechnical College (architect E.Pisarskoi), Agricultural Institute (architect I.Gomelin), Ministry of Agriculture (architect V.Nusov) and others.

Construction of the Kyrgyz State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre (architect A.Laburenko) was accomplished in 1955. The facade of the building has the shape of an eight-column portico with faceted columns. The portico with pediment has three sculptures and the emblem on tympanum. The building of the Theatre has the elements of classical architecture and Kyrgyz applied arts. Kyrgyz ornaments are used in the exterior and interior decoration of the Theatre.

In 1956 the monumental building of the Republican Party School was built (architects G.Nazaryan and R.Semerjiyev). Nowadays Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament of the country) is in this building. Reconstruction of the building was made in 1964-1965 (architect E.Pisarskoi).

The Republican Library named after Chernyshevsky (now the Republican Library after Bayalinov for children and youth) was built in 1962 (architect V.Nusov). The architecture of this building was influenced by the transition period, as a result of which the exterior and interior of the building was simplified. The main facade of the building has bas-reliefs of writers and scientists and there is a monumental front staircase.

Construction of the Cafe ?Son-Kul? (architect A.Korjempo) represented transition to new architectural forms and construction technologies.

The most part of public buildings are located in the historically formed business-administrative centre of the city within the area of Ibraimov str., Jibek Jolu str., Gandhi str. and the railway.

The very centre of the city is Ala-Too square. The present look of the square was formed in the first half of 1980-s, when the architectural ensemble was built which comprised the Government House and the Museum of History of Communist Party, which is now the Kyrgyz State Historical Museum. Ala-Too Square is the place where all big public events and national celebrations are held.

The Square near the Philharmonic Society, Victory Square, Square in front of the Opera and Ballet Theatre are also popular among people. All these squares like the central Ala-Too Square are decorated with monuments and sculptural compositions.

People?s favorite places to have a rest are squares, green boulevards, gardens and parks: Panfilov Park, Park named after Ataturk, Elm Grove, Oak Park, Botanical Garden, Square with a fountain opposite the Chui Administration, National Exhibition Centre, Erkindik Boulevard and Gandhi Boulevard. Many of them have monuments and memorial sites.

In the suburb of the city there is a beautiful place for having a rest: Kyrgyz State Natural Park ?Ala-Archa?. The area of the park is 20 thousand hectares, on which there are 800 species of plants and about 170 species of mammals and birds. All people who visit the Park admire the snow-topped mountains with steep slopes covered with forests, picturesque landscape and the swift mountain river Ala-Archa.

There are many various museums in the capital. The largest of them are: Kyrgyz State Historical Museum, National Fine Arts Museum named after Aitiyev, Memorial House of M.Frunze, Ethnographic-cultural Complex ?Manas-Ayil?.

Bishkek is scientific and educational centre of the country. Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences and many research institutions are located in Bishkek. Many works of Kyrgyz scientists are well-known in foreign countries.

Major higher educational institutions of Kyrgyzstan are also in the capital, they are: National University, Technical University, Medical Academy, Mining Academy, Agrarian Academy, Humanitarian University, Conservatoire, Pedagogical University, Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, Kyrgyz-Turkish University named after Manas, University of Construction and Architecture, Institute of Physical Culture.

There are many various libraries in Bishkek, the largest of them are: Kyrgyz National Library and the Republican Library for children and youth named after Bayalinov.

Bishkek is the cultural centre of Kyrgyzstan. There is the Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, Kyrgyz Academic Drama Theatre, Russian Drama Theatre, State Philharmonic Society named after T.Satylganov, Republican Puppet Theatre, Circus.

There are several cinemas in the city: ?Russia?, ?Manas?, ?Ala-Too?, ?Oktiabr?.

The largest sportive constructions in the city are: Central Stadium for 25 thousand seats, Palace of Sports named after Kojomkul for 3 thousand seats, Hippodrome.

The air transport connects the capital with cities of foreign countries. The ?Manas? airport provides take-off and landing for the most modern planes of various air-companies. The airport is 35 km away from the capital. The largest foreign air-companies have opened their agencies in Bishkek.

The biggest hotels of Bishkek: ?Hyatt?, ?Ak-Keme-Pinara?, ?Dostuk?, ?Silk Road?, ?Issyk-Kul? are waiting for their guests.

During the last decade many enterprises in the sphere of services are rapidly developing: shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, pools, saunas, business-centres, sport clubs, internet-cafes, disco-clubs, night clubs, billiard saloons etc. In the city there are many tourist agencies, arranging reception of foreign guests in Kyrgyzstan and travel of Kyrgyz citizens abroad. Tourist agencies book hotels, air-tickets, provide transport, arrange stay at the Issyk-Kul lake, mountain climbing, horse riding tours, automobile and bicycle tours, skiing etc.

There are enterprises providing various means of communication: beetel, paging, satellite, internet providers, express-mail, private radio and TV stations.

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  ©"Manastyn Kyzdary" folk dance group 2005                      Designed by: Dr. Zamirgul Kazakbaeva, e-mail: zamirgul@manas.kg