INFOSHYMKENT was invited to be part of a three-day press tour organized by the Tourism Center of the city of Shymkent ‘Visit Shymkent’ from September 25th to 27th this year.
The primary goal of this event was to showcase the enchanting city of Shymkent to an international audience, comprising travel bloggers, journalists, and media representatives. This initiative aimed to not only highlight the city’s beauty but also to promote Shymkent both within Kazakhstan and on the global stage. The event attracted guests not just from various regions of Kazakhstan but also from countries as diverse as Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, China, and Germany.
Here, we share the impressions we gained during the press tour in the beautiful city of Shymkent. Enjoy!
Day 1: Through the Silk Road – from the ancient city of Sayram to Shymkent.
The first day of our unforgettable press tour in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, kicked off with eager anticipation. We assembled in the morning at the welcoming Hotel Megapolis Shymkent, where we had the pleasure of meeting both our fellow event attendees and the diligent organizers who had orchestrated this exciting adventure.
After the delicious breakfast at the hotel, we took a sit on an excursion bus. Our first stop was the renowned A.S.Pushkin Library – one of Shymkent’s popular cultural hubs. Here, the day commenced with a thought-provoking conference featuring the chairpersons of two prominent companies – ‘FlyArystan’ and ‘BM Motors’. Their presentations delved into their companies’ achievements and future prospects, shedding light on the dynamic business landscape of Kazakhstan. The conference sparked engaging discussions, allowing us to exchange questions and answers, thereby enhancing our understanding of the local economy.
Following the conference, we could have a look at the library’s art gallery and new styled architecture of the building after the renovation of the library. After it, our excursion to the ancient city of Sayram beckoned. We boarded again the two-story excursion bus, providing us with panoramic views of the city as we embarked on a journey through time. During the drive, the knowledgeable guides from the Tourism Center of Shymkent regaled us with captivating tales of Shymkent and Sayram, offering insights into the rich history of these historical Kazakh cities.
Sayram, formerly known as Isfijab, stands as one of Kazakhstan’s oldest settlements and a significant stop along the Silk Road—a historical treasure trove waiting to be explored.
Upon our arrival in Sayram, our first destination was the newly inaugurated branch office of the Tourism Center of the city of Shymkent ‘Visit Shymkent’, nestled within the same building as the Uzbek Drama Theater. This office serves as a gateway to the sights of both Shymkent and Sayram, promoting their tourist attractions, culinary delights, and cultural experiences.
We, then, ventured into the Uzbek Drama Theater itself, where the ornate decorations evoked a sense of nostalgia for bygone eras. The entrance was adorned with traditional Uzbek-Kazakh artifacts, including vibrant handmade carpets, decorative jars, and an ancient copy of the Islamic holy book, the Quran. These relics offered a glimpse into the rich and storied history of the region.
Our journey continued to one of Sayram’s famous historical sites—the mausoleum of Ibrahim Ata and the minaret of Khyzyr Baba. Ibrahim Ata, the father of Sufism founder in Central Asia Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, has deep historical significance. At the mausoleum, our guides provided captivating narratives about Ibrahim Ata and his family. In Sayram, also located the mausoleums of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi’s grandfather and mother.
Our exploration led us to the archaeological site of the old minaret of Khyzyr Baba (the Prophet Khyzyr (a.s)), located adjacent to a mosque. The minaret once served as a call to prayer, and the mosque featured a kitchen where delectable meals were prepared for worshipers after their prayers. While the mosque has not survived to this day, the foundations and the minaret stand as silent witnesses to history. Unfortunately, the minaret bears the scars of vandalism, with countless names and words etched onto its surface. The Tourism Center of Shymkent is committed to its preservation, though the challenge lies in ensuring accessibility while protecting this invaluable heritage.
Our journey continued to the Piala Restaurant, where the architecture embraced Central Asian style, featuring decor inspired by popular sights from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The cuisine followed suit, treating us to delightful Central Asian dishes like baked dumplings ‘Samsa’, lamb soup ‘Sorpa/Shurpa’, Sayram flatbreads ‘Tandyr Nan’, and mouthwatering different kinds of salads.
But our day was far from over. Following a sumptuous lunch, we ventured to the heart of Shymkent’s history—the ancient Shymkent Citadel. This 2,200-year-old fortress stood as the city’s original center, earning the name ‘Shymkent’ from the green grass adorning its rooftops, making it appear green from afar in the past. The guide of the Citadel explained us the meaning of the word ‘Shymkent’: ‘Shym’ means ‘green’ and ‘Kent’ means ‘city’. Shymkent and Sayram’s location along the Silk Road hints at their historical significance as trade hubs.
Within the Citadel, we embarked on an enlightening journey through an open-air museum and indoor exhibits, unveiling the story of Shymkent’s past. We were introduced to traditional Kazakh games like ‘Sadak Atu’ (Shooting with Bow), and we explored various Kazakh musical instruments such as the ‘Dombra’ and ‘Kobyz’. An opportunity to try our hand at preparing Kazakh fried bread known as ‘Baursak’ and savoring black tea added to the authenticity of our experience.
After the Citadel, we visited Independence Park in Shymkent, located adjacent to the Citadel. Here, we reveled in the vibrant blooms and enjoyed breathtaking vistas of the city. The popular Ordabasy Mosque and Ordabasy Hotel graced the vicinity, adding to its charm.
As the sun began to set, we concluded our day at the Kazakh traditional restaurant Kebeje, where history came alive in the décor. The owner had adorned parts of the restaurant with her grandmother’s cherished possessions, including handmade carpets, the traditional Kazakh chest known as ‘Sandyq’, handmade bags, and wooden furniture. We relished a delightful meal and celebrated one organizer-guide’s birthday with heartfelt songs and lively Dombra music performances.
With full hearts and satisfied stomachs, we returned to our hotel, eagerly looking forward to the adventures that awaited us in the days ahead during this captivating press tour of Shymkent.
P.S.: Thank you very much Paparazzi Club Shymkent for letting us to use your pictures!