Shymkent (known as Chimkent until 1993) is the third most populous city in Kazakhstan. It is situated in southern Kazakhstan, near the border with Uzbekistan. Archeologists claim that Shymkent is the oldest city in Kazakhstan. Some of them say it was founded in the 12th century, but others insist that it existed back in the 6th century. Shymkent was part of Kazakhstan’s Silk Road and was an important agricultural centre under the rule of Genghis Khan.
There was a citadel in the city, from which only the walls remained. What is left form the medieval old town is the lively bazaars. Of course, nowadays a lot of Chinese products are flooded in the markets, but the fruits, vegetables and local products give the real taste of the bazaar.
Nowadays Shymkent is the fastest developing city in Kazakhstan. It has approximately 1 million population. This rapid growth of the population is connected with the commercial and industrial development of the city. Once a medieval city is turned into a modern center for trade. Besides the city offers interesting activities for tourism: mountaineering, fishing, hunting, etc. All of them can be accompanied by visiting historical, religious sites.
Shymkent was rebuilt under the Soviet rule, so there are many places which are connected with the Soviet Union history and architectural sights which will remind the Soviet brutal style. To learn more about the history of Kazakhstan during that period you can visit the Museum of Political Oppression. It is dedicated to the victims of the Soviet Political oppression and will give you an overlook of the events and connections between Russia and Kazakhstan.
The regional museum of Southern Kazakhstan is also situated in Shymkent (in the northern part of the city), which represents the archeological findings, geological structure, ethnography of the region.
One of the main attractions of the city can be considered the statue of Baidibek Bi, who was a historic figure uniting Kazakhs people. So his monument also became a symbol of the unity of Kazakh people.
Shymkent is full of parks making it a green city with a lot of trees, flower gardens, bushes, etc. Most famous parks include Park Abaya displaying the memorial of a Soviet pilot, Independence park opened for the 20th anniversary of the Independence of Kazakhstan.
The sacred cave Akmeshit is 90 km far away from Shymkent, which makes it a convenient destination for a one-day trip. Miracles are believed to happen in this place. So it has become a place for pilgrimage, people go there to pray, to make wishes, etc. Besides this natural wonder is a beautiful site not to miss. The cave is huge and the trees and plants make a small forest in the middle of it. While outside is the Kazakh steppe lacking any vegetation.
You can also visit the local bazaars Samal or Anya, buy souvenirs from Taukexana Street, go shopping in the mall, try the local food in the restaurants, etc. Shymkent is also home to one of the best beers in Kazakhstan; Shymkentskoe pivo. So you will have a chance to try the local beer.