Bishkek (former Frunze) is the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic and sits in the Tien Shan mountain range in the Chui Valley. It is a relatively new city and has limited historical sites.
Bishkek is, however, an interesting example of a tsarist planned city; laid on a grid with wide boulevards flanked by irrigation canals and large trees, buildings with marble facades, and Soviet apartment complexes. Bishkek is a modern city with vast squares, crowded bazaars, impressive administrative centers, and educational institutions. As the major industrial center of the republic, Bishkek's factories produce leather goods, agricultural machinery, and a variety of textiles. Bishkek is a pleasant city to wander with numerous leafy parks, tall trees, peppered by Soviet era statues and monuments. However there isn't a great deal to see beyond this, and the city can comfortably be 'done' in a day (or two if visiting the suburban markets). Note that most museums are closed on Mondays.
• State Historical Museum, located in Ala-Too Square, the main city square
• State Museum of Applied Arts, containing examples of Kyrgyz traditional handicrafts
• Frunze House Museum
• Statue of Ivan Panfilov stands in the park near the White House.
• An equestrian statue of Mikhail Frunze still stands in a large park (Boulevard Erkindik) across from the train station.
• The train station itself was built in 1946 by German prisoners of war and has survived since then without further renovation or repairs; most of those who built it perished and were buried in unmarked pits near the station.
• The main government building, the White House, is a huge, seven story marble block and the former headquarters of the Communist Party of the Kirghiz SSR
• At Ala-Too Square, there is an Independence monument where the changing of the guards may be watched.
• Osh bazaar, west of the downtown area, is a large, picturesque produce market
Places to visit:
Ala-Too Square - The main city square is a vast expanse of concrete that ceased to be called Lenin square in 1991, and is the site of frequent political demonstrations and regular festivals. A statue of Lenin was the focal point until 2003, before he was banished to a much less conspicuous location behind the museum and replaced by a statue of Erkidik (freedom). At night many vendors set up photograph and karaoke booths, and there's a synchronised sound and light show in time with the fountains, however travellers should avoid visiting the square after dark. There is also a military monument with an hourly changing of guards.
State Historical Museum - This museum sits between Ala-Too Square and the Parliament building. On the south side is an enormous statue of Lenin that was moved from the north side of the building after the Soviet Era. The bottom story of this three floor museum displays seasonal exhibits, while the second highlights Soviet-era achievements during the Communist Era. The top floor showcases the history and culture of the Kyrgyz people. Entry costs 150 som. Closed on Mondays.
Panfilov Park - While this park may be in need upkeep and renovation, it's a great look into the past when Kyrgyzstan was a part of the Soviet Union. Beware that few of the rides have any safety mechanisms, and the safety mechanisms they may appear to have are probably not functional. The ferris wheel offers a great view of the greater city.