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Long before the modern skylines, ornate Orthodox cathedrals or the bustling bazaars, there existed a ancient nomadic wandering the steppes of this area, below the Tianshan Mountains.

In the center of Almaty lies a vast and open grassland, devoid of any human interaction beyond 45 circular mounds. Yet these circular mounds were not natural erosional features, but a kurgan necropolis dating to the Iron Age, roughly 3,000 years ago. These are what’s left of the Saka, a nomadic people who roamed these steppes. Remarkably, this culture and others in the region hints at a global trade with the east and west much earlier than previously thought, as Chinese silk and Persian carpets were found during excavations. Almaty, with its prime location between mountains and the steppe, was once a busy crossroads along the ancient Silk Road, both in ancient times and as a renewed modern metropolis today.

Merchants traversed these plains for centuries, their caravans laden with precious wares to trade in the markets sprouting up along the intricate network of trade routes.   Over the years Almaty grew and waned, though its importance in the region never dimmed. Walking through the city today, it is a wonder passing through modern amenities as well as age-old bazaars, a true blend of the past and present. Though the grassy Boralday mounds remain enclosed in intrigue, they stand as vestiges of Almaty's nomadic foundations, before it evolved into the cosmopolitan tapestry we see today - where the alluring scents of spice markets still waft through the air and Eastern motifs adorn Orthodox cathedrals.

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What Goods were Traded Here?

LIVESTOCK - Horses and sheep were prized exports, ranging from wool to the sturdy Kazakh horses made legendary.

GRAINS - Blessed with fertile land, wheat, millet and barley were produced and transported from Almaty.

How to Get Here

We arrived by overnight train from Turkistan, approaching almost 13 hours. However, Almaty is one of the largest cities in all of Central Asia and is well connected by flight, bus and train.

Our Treasure

Glimpsing the Tianshan Mountains from the streets of the city. When the clouds parted, the mountains hovered over majestically, inviting all willing to venture to her hills.

Explore More

    ➨ Boralday Mounds

S N A P S H O T S   O N   T H E   R O A D

W H E R E   W I L L   Y O U R   J O U R N E Y   T A K E   Y O U   N E X T ?

Almaty marks the end of a string of Silk Road settlements along the steppes of Central Asia, as now the heavenly mountains are calling. Taking the road east, your caravan must pass some high passes en route to the Tarim Basin where lies ancient oases in the desert. But first, the pearl of the Silk Road awaits, a resplendent lake set amongst golden hills - Sayram Lake.


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