Kyrgyzstan: Holidays, Events, and National Customs
|January 1||New Year|
|8th of March||women’s Day|
|March 21||Nooruz (Kyrgyz New Year Festival)|
|1st of May||Working day|
|5th of May||Constitution Day|
|May 9||Victory over fascism|
|June 13||Kurban Ait|
|August 31||Independence day|
Source: Countryaah – Kyrgyzstan Holidays
There are also other Islamic holidays with irregular dates, such as Ramadan.
The national sports of Kyrgyzstan are equestrian sports, whereby At-Tschabysch is a horse race that is held over distances between 4 and 50 km. Oodarysch is a competition in which two riders or two teams of riders try to wrestle each other and possibly their horses to the ground.
Ulak Tartisch Hiebei
is a kind of polo, but here a dead billy goat has to be carried to a kind of gate by horse. The game was banned under the Soviets, and has now become a kind of national sport.
In this game a woman and a man compete against each other on a horse. In the first round the man has to try to kiss the girl (woman), while in the second round she has to whip him. A game that is fired up with great enthusiasm by the audience.
Soccer, skiing and swimming, helicopter skiing, and whitewater canoeing are also popular sports.
Special national customs
The central work of Kyrgyz literature is the great Manas epic, considerably longer than the Odyssey and preserved and refined through oral tradition for around 1,000 years. It celebrates the deeds of the mythological hero Manas and his descendants, who in the 10th century preserved the Kyrgyz freedom in a struggle with the neighboring Uyghurs.
The best time to travel to Kyrgyzstan
The ideas of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depend on a number of factors. For example, cultural travelers see the climate very differently than people who want to spend a pure beach holiday, for example. The state of health or age can also play an important role. Therefore, our travel time recommendations are divided into the following two categories:
For sun-hungry people
For people who like to enjoy a lot of sun and for whom higher temperatures do not cause any problems, the following seasons are particularly suitable for a stay in the country: Summer
For people who prefer a temperate climate
People who prefer a temperate climate and lower temperatures should better use the following seasons to stay in Kyrgyzstan: spring, autumn.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that KG stands for the nation of Kyrgyzstan as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Silk Road in the Tian Shan Mountains
The Silk Road crosses borders and includes the following core areas.
– the province of Xinjiang in China
– the north of India
– Iran’s province of Khorasan in the northeast of the country
– the northern parts of Pakistan
The Silk Road is an old caravan route. According to our era, it has been known since the year zero.
The Silk Road led from China to West Asia and India, bypassing the Gobi Desert. For example, the cities of Antioch and Damascus became rich through constant trade with other countries – and also gained political importance.
City-states such as Turfan and Chotan emerged along the Silk Road.
A trip from China to the Mediterranean took about three to four years. In this way, China supplied silk, glass and precious metals, among other things. In return, cultivated plants were brought to China from the west.
The tracks of the later railways were largely laid along the old Silk Road. It is hoped that by maintaining and renewing the Silk Road, Afghanistan will become a hub between Central and South Asia and the Middle East. The Silk Road was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2014.
Holy Mountain Sulamain
The holy mountain Sulamain lies at the crossroads of important Silk Roads in Central Asia.
In earlier times the mountain was considered sacred and so there are several places of worship and caves with petroglyphs and two mosques from the 16th century that stand on the mountain peaks. There are around 101 grottos with petroglyphs on the walls of which people, animals and geometric shapes have been drawn. Even today, many people still make pilgrimages to this mountain in order to get help against diseases and sterility, etc. pick up.
The holy mountain Sulamain was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009.
The legend of the girl Cholpon
The following legend is one of the most popular stories of the Kyrgyz people
In the region of what is now the town of Cholpon-Ata once lived a beautiful young girl named Cholpon, with whom numerous young men from the area were in love and who cared about her. However, she refused all requests because someone else had already captured her heart. One of her applicants was then Khan, who was notorious for his ruthlessness and brutality. But the girl also refused his intensive advertising, pointing out that she would love someone else. And although the Khan showered her with many precious gifts, she remained steadfast and refused any advances. she refused the Khan with always the same words: “I love someone else and I will never be yours!” An unheard-of incident against a Khan at the time. When he was very angry about her stubbornness and made one last attempt to win her over, she ran to the window of the palace and jumped out of the window with the cry “I will never be yours”. The story continues as follows: on the place under the high walls of the palace, the floor opened out of pale blue, pure, clean, crystal clear and hot water oozed up. The water bidete a whole lake of warm lake, which was called Issik-Kul. From the girl’s father, after whom the city was later named in Cholpon-Ata (Cholpon’s father), it is reported that his face can be seen on the opposite mountains and that his tears flow down into the lake when he dies of his daughter laments. Some even claim to have heard the girl’s voice from the ruins in the lake on quiet summer evenings. In 1982 a sculpture of the girl was placed in the center of Cholpon-Ata.
Until the 20th century, most of the Kyrgyz were still mostly nomads. Therefore, there are relatively few monuments in the cities that can document the cultural development of the country.
Bishkek is the capital of the country and covers an area of around 127 km² and according to official information about 900,000 residents, some authors even speak of up to 2 million residents. The city is located in the north on the border with Kazakhstan at an altitude of around 800 m on the edge of the Kyrgyz Mountains – a western part of the Tianshan Mountains. The two rivers Ala-Artscha and Alamedin flow within the city and flow into the Tschüi River to the north of the city. According to official information, the relatively young city was founded in 1878, so that it celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2003. In the beginning there was a station here for the caravans passing through along the Silk Road. Bishkek became the capital of Kyrgyzstan, a new state after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991. In addition to Kyrgyz people, mainly Russians, Chinese, Tatars, Ukrainians, Uighurs and Uzbeks live in the city. The city has a modern infrastructure in the form of hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs and casinos and of course numerous shops including large department stores. At a distance of approx. 40 km to the south in the Kyrgyz mountains is the Ala-Artsch National Park.
Arslanbobs, a small place that tries to open up to tourism and advertises, among other things, with a large waterfall and a cave in which the daughter of Mohammed is said to have lived for a while.
The city is close to the border with Uzbekistan and has around 70,500 residents. The city is known for its dry and hot summers, warm and sunny autumns and warm winters. The region is a center for fruit and vegetable cultivation. There are also important health resorts in the vicinity of the city. It should be mentioned that a main stretch of the Silk Road used to lead through the city, which naturally led many strangers to the city with their goods. In the city’s markets, among many other goods, you can buy walnut jam and honey, for which this region is famous.
The city owes its existence to the tsarist Russian army, which decided in 1860 to station an advanced military garrison here. The first settlers soon followed the army. This made the settlement not only a garrison town but also a regional center from which trade with Tianschan and China was carried out. Soon after, the settlement was named Karakol and became a city in 1869 – which means “black hand” in German. In 1886 the city was renamed “Prezhevalsk” in honor of the Russian officer and geographer Nikolai Michailowitsch Prschewalski (1839-1888) Lenin gave it back its original name in 1926, while Stalin renamed the city back to Prezhevalsk in 1935. Karakol was given its current name in 1991. Nowadays the city is a starting point for the Eniltschek glacier and the over 7,000 m high Khan Tengri or Pobeda. (More details here under “Mountains”). Karakol is now a very well-known center for trekking excursions among mountain tourists and mountaineers.
Kochkor is a small mountain town where tourism has started to establish itself. The felt museum located there is well known.
The city with around 230,000 residents is located on the edge of the Ferghana Valley, around 55 km from the border with Tajikistan and around 80 km from China. To the capital Bishkek it is about 370 km in a north-northeast direction. The city is said to be around 3,000 years old. be. In addition to Kyrgyz people, a large number of Uzbeks and Tajiks also live here. The Orient Bazaar, which dates back to the 11th century, is famous.
The Ferghanatal is a valley about 300 km long and up to 110 km wide or a depression between the Tianshan and Alai mountains – the 750 km long border mountains between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Syr Darya flows through the valley. The valley is also on the territory of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Tscholpon Ata (Tscholponata)
The city – in German Tscholpon’s father – is located on the northern shore of Lake Issykköl – about 240 km east of the capital Bishkek – and has about 12,000 residents. In the city there are still many hotels and sanatoriums from the Soviet era, in which people used to relax as part of their state-organized holidays. Although most of the accommodation and facilities are in urgent need of modernization, the place is still very popular with people from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and their own country even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The reasons are the warm water of the lake, the beautiful beaches, the good summer weather and the wonderful view of the mountains of the nearby Tianshan Mountains. It is also worth mentioning the local open-air museum, which is described in more detail below under Museums.
Burana Tower at Tokmok
The Burana Tower (Turkish: Murana for minaret) was possibly built as a minaret in the 10th to 11th centuries, making it one of the oldest structures of its kind in Kyrgyzstan. After its completion, the tower had a height of around 45 m, but an earthquake destroyed the upper part of the tower in the 15th century, so that its current height is only around 25 m. It has an octagonal foundation with a tapered tower on top. The diameter of the tower is 9.3 m in the lower part and 6 m at the top. A narrow staircase, still preserved in the original, leads inside the tower to the upper part. From the “top” of the tower you have a good view of the Chu valley and the city of Tokmak. The tower is located about 12 km southwest of the city of Tokmok on the left bank of the Chu River. The city of Tokmok was founded in the 10th Founded in the 19th century on the site of an older settlement and was the birthplace of the philosopher and poet Jusup Balasugin (born 1015), who summarized the folk epic Katadgu Bilig (Knowledge brings happiness). It has been translated into several languages. The tower and the remains of a double defensive wall are now a museum.
The Tash-Rabat fortress is located approx. 80 km from the Torugart Pass, which connects Kyrgyzstan with China, at an altitude of approx. 3,000 m. The age of the fortress has been estimated by archaeologists to be over 1,000 years. There is evidence that Tash-Rabat served as a fortress-like temple by the Nestorians or the Buddhists who wanted to protect themselves from the persecution of Muslims. There is also evidence that the place for travelers and traders, even before the time of Genghis Khan, was a transshipment point, which was used to rest and to protect caravans from raids and bad weather. The building was one of the largest stone buildings of the time in this region. The building essentially consists of a large central space, which is surrounded by around 30 smaller dome-like rooms.
White House in Bishkek
In the center of Bishkek, on Ala Too Square, is the White House – the seat of government. The building captivates with its white marble facade and the white peaks of the high mountains in the background.
The orthodox churches Djibek Dscholu and Togolok Moldo and the mosques Gogolja and Moskowskaja in Bishkek are among the sacred buildings of Kyrgyzstan that are well worth seeing.
Holy Trinity Cathedral The Holy Trinity
Cathedral in Karakol is a Russian Orthodox church, which, however, served as a dance hall during the Soviet era and as a school during the Second World War. It was built on the site of an old church between 1890 and 1895. The church consists of wooden walls, a foundation made of stone. Its five onion-shaped domes that crowned the building were destroyed in Soviet times. Inside there are a lot of icons. Nowadays the building is again a church.
Dungan mosque in Karakol
The Dungan mosque (Chinese house of worship) was built between 1907 and 1910 under the direction of a Chinese architect. The service was made entirely of wood – without a single nail. The Dungans came to Karakol as refugees in 1877 and founded their small community there. During the time of the Soviet Union, the mosque was closed from 1933 to 1943 but then reopened as a place of worship. The mosque is painted inside in red, green and yellow colors. The pictures there show examples of plants or mythical animals such as dragons and phoenixes. The entrance to the large central room is extended by a veranda.
Djibek Djolu in Bishkek
This Orthodox church in Bishkek is worth a detour.
Togolok Moldo in Bishkek
To golok Moldo is an Orthodox church in Bishkek that is definitely worth visiting
Gogolja in Bishkek
The mosque is in Bischek and is one of the most important Islamic places of worship in the country
Moskowskaja in Bischek
This mosque is also one of the Islamic places of worship in Bischek that is well worth seeing.
Uzgen Minaret (Özgen)
The old city of Uskent, whose beginnings go back to Alexander the Great, was located near today’s Uzgen – approx. 15 km from the border with Tajikistan – on the bank of a narrowing of the Kara-Darya River. Only the remains of the wall, a minaret and three mausoleums of the old town are preserved. The approximately 27.5 m high minaret made of fired brick consists of three parts: the lower part is an octagon with a diameter of 8.5 m and a height of 5 m. In the lower part you get through an arched door to a kind of spiral staircase. The middle part in the form of a cylinder tapering towards the top was placed on this lower part. The upper part has a diameter of 6.2 m and was later extended by a dome and large window openings. The original height was around 40 m, but in an earthquake in the 16th century the upper part collapsed or overturned. The three mausoleums located near the minaret were erected on an imaginary straight line and are referred to as the northern, central and southern mausoleum. The middle one was built between 1012 and 1013, making it the oldest of the three mausoleums. The square structure has external dimensions of 11.3 mx 11.4 m and a height of around 13 m. Here, too, like the minaret, baked brick was used as a building material. In contrast, the “northern” mausoleum was only built between 1152 and 1153. With its dimensions of 10.2 mx 12.2 m, it is comparable in size to the middle one. Not much later – between 1186 and 1187 – the smaller southern structure was built.
Museum in Karakol
The Russian officer and researcher Nikolaj Prezhevalskij (1839-1888) – also Nikolai Michailowitsch Prschewalski – used the city as a starting point for his research trips to Central Asia. However, he never achieved the goal of his life – the capital Lhasa – in Tibet. While preparing for another expedition, he became infected with typhus and decided to settle here and wait for his death. The museum in his honor was established in 1957 in the house where he spent the last days before his in 1888. The museum is about 10 km from the city center.
Museum in Cholpon Ata The museum is located in the north of the city airport of Cholpon Ata. The museum covers an area of 42 hectares and shows a number of prehistoric monumental structures – such as stone circles, graves and rock carvings from the 2nd millennium BC. up to the Middle Ages. The stones have sizes ranging from just 30 cm to 3 m. Some scientists believe that this place used to be a temple complex where people worshiped the sun and other gods. You can also find drawings from the hunt here.
Historical Museum in Bishkek
The Historical Museum is located in the center of Ala Too Square in Bishkek. The museum has numerous exhibitions dealing with, among other things, Lenin and the country’s Soviet heritage, as well as other epochs in Kyrgyzstan history.
State Art Museum in Bishkek
This museum in Bishkek exhibits contemporary artists, including those of Lazar Gadaev and Shailo Djekshenbaev.
In this cemetery in Bishkek the visitor can find numerous monuments of personalities of the recent history of the country and the city.
Places of worship
Ruhordo Tashkul-Ata was opened in 2002 in order not to let the historical legacy of the region be forgotten. The cultural center is located on the north coast of Issik-Kul. In German the name of the park means something like “spiritual place”. On the site you can find sacred buildings of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. A large concert hall and meeting rooms decorated with works of art are also available here. Particularly striking is a monument to Boris Yeltsin, the first President of the Russian Federation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, who often visited the country.
Saimaluu Tash is the name of an open-air museum and a small gorge on the northeastern slope of the Fergan mountain ridge in the area of the Kugart Pass close to the border with China. There are around 11,000 rock carvings here. It is estimated that a number of the drawings from around 2,000 BC. date, according to some scientists even from around 3000 BC. The drawings are symbolic representations of fighting and hunting scenes as well as animals – such as horses, camels, bulls or dogs. The sun depicted on many drawings suggests that the sun cult played a major role here at the time. Saimaluu tash is often referred to as the country’s stonehenge. This marketing strategy serves to increase awareness of the region, to make people outside of Kyrgyzstan aware of these important historical finds. Unfortunately, the locations are extremely difficult to reach. The way there begins in a village called Kalmak Kirtschin, which is about 60 km southeast of Jalalabad. A road that can only be used with an off-road vehicle takes you from there in the mountains to a lonely “honey farm”, from where you can only continue on foot or with mounts to the location about 10 km away.
International University of Central Asia in Tokmok
The International University of Central Asia is located in Tokmok, a very tranquil city that extends in close proximity to Kazakhstan in northern Kyrgyzstan. The university can be seen as an example of a very interesting cultural integration, since students from many regions who are actually spider enemies study together here – Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. The university has set up in a pretty new building.
A detailed description of the most important mountains, rivers and lakes can be found at Goruma.