The Ala Too square is the main and central place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital. One of the Kyrgyz’s favorite spots in the city, Ala Too square is always very busy and hosts many animations and celebrations.
Back in history
The Ala Too square was built in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the soviet republic of Kirgizia. It was then decorated by an imposing statue of Lenin, which was later moved to a smaller square in 2003.
The Lenin statue beheading the square was replaced by the Erkindik statue symbolizing freedom. In 2011, yet another statue was inaugurated, that of the great hero Manas, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the independence of Kyrgyzstan.
On March 24, 2005, it’s on Ala Too Square that civilians took to the streets for the greatest anti-government demonstration of the Tulip revolution in Kyrgyzstan. More than 15,000 people protested the results of the legislative elections. The week of protests ended with two deaths and hundreds of people injured, but it led to the resignation of the first president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev. He then fled the country.
Visiting Ala Too Square
Ala Too, the largest square in Bishkek, is in the center of the city and is a cultural and political hotspot for citizens of Kyrgyzstan. It is surrounded by important organizations such as the Parliament, the municipal council, main universities, business centers and museums.
Bordered by typical soviet monuments, the square is beautifully flowered, creating an appreciable contrast with the greys of the concrete. In summer, fountains are turned on to complete this poetic scenery, often accompanied by music.
Apart from the 10 m (33 ft) statue of the epic national hero, Manas, you’ll be amazed by the independence monument which proudly holds a huge Kyrgyz flag. The flag is permanently guarded by soldiers. The changing the guard ceremony happens every two hours in summer, and every hour in winter.
At nighttime, the square comes to life with merchants offering photo booths, bike or hoover board rentals and even small karaoke. This is a must-go to place for evening walks with friends or family.