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The capital was founded in 1878 on the site of a clay fort built by the Khan of Kokand and destroyed by the Russians, and sits at the foot of the Tian Shan mountain range. A largely Soviet-built city, it has a similar spacious atmosphere to its Kazakh neighbour, Almaty. Ulitsa Sovietskaya, the broad tree-lined road between the railway station and the city centre, houses the Kyrgyz State Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Chernyshevsky Public Library and the State Art Museum. Other attractions include the History Museum in the Old Square (Stary Ploshad), the Lenin Museum, the Zoological Museum and the Kyrgyz Drama Theatre. The Government plans to redevelop the former General Frunze Museum on Frunze Street - which commemorated the Kyrgyz-born Russian general who subdued Central Asia for the Bolsheviks - into a celebration of the ethnic diversity that is found in Kyrgyzstan. A section on Jewish culture has already been opened.
   Balykchy city
(former Rybachie) is located on the eastern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake, at the intersection of Bishkek-Naryn and Bishkek-Karakol. It was founded as a post between Pishpek and Karakol. In 1871, there were only two clay-wall huts for travelers and an inspector's yurt. As time goes by, the village grew. In the mid 1980s, a retired soldier, M. Bachyn settled there and started fishing business. In 1907, there were already 100 families there and the village was renamed Bachino, and later - Rubachie ("fishing"). Rubachie has developed into a town in 1954 and in 1991 it was renamed Balykchy ("balyk" means "fish" in Kyrgyz). An ancient settlement has been found 3 km from Balykchy along the southern shore. Now the population of the city is 42,000. On a clear day you can see the mountains on both sides of the lake from here. The northern ones, separating Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan, are the Kungey ("sunny") Ala-Too. The southern one are the Terskey ("shady") Ala-Too. Beyond them, sometimes visible from hundreds of kilometers away, are the glaciers of the Tien-Shan's central knot. There is no good reason to stop in this town except to change buses between Karakol and Naryn, or to change from train to bus en route between Bishkek and Karakol.
   Cholpon Ata
is located 70 km from the town of Balykchy along the northern shore of the Issyk-Kul Lake. It is the main resort center of the Issyk Kul region. You can enjoy a mud cure at one of the many number of spas and health-resorts here. Not far from the center of the city, on the way to the airport, there is an open museum of rock paintings. During Soviet times, Choplon Ata was famous for its stud-farm, where a new breed of horses ("Novokyrgyzskay") were raised. The central road running through the city is surrounded by poplars and other plants. This is the famous Rappoport Alley, named after its founder and the director of the stud-farm.
a picturesque Russian church, Chinese Mosque and gracious colonial house on tree-lined streets sloping up towards glaciers and pine forests. Kara-Kol city is located 420 km from Bishkek along the eastern shore of the Issyk Kul Lake, at an elevation of 1690 m - 1770 m. Karakol (former Przhevalsk) was founded in 1869 as a Russian military and administrative outpost. In 1889, the city was renamed for Nikolay Przhevalsky, the Russian traveler and legendary explorer, misogynist of Central Asia, who died there in 1888. The memorial and museum of him are located in the park-preserve not far from the wharf. The population of the city is 64,300 (as of 1991). Food and light industries are the main industries here. The city also boasts a teacher-training institute, a theatre, and a museum. Karakol is a peaceful, low-rise town with streets full of Russian cottages, shaded by rows of huge white poplars. Around the town are apple orchards for which the area is famous.
   Naryn city
lies on the upper course of the Naryn River at an elevation of 6,610 ft (2,015 m) its long and thin town. Founded as a fortified point on the trade route from Kashgar in Sinkiang to the Chu River valley, it was made a city in 1927. Naryn is the center of a wheat-growing and sheep-grazing district. The population of Naryn is 42,000 people (as of April 1998). Naryn is a good place to for an overnight stop on the Bishkek-Torugart road.
the second largest city of the Kyrgyz republic, is one of the oldest settlements of Central Asia. This one of the Central Asia's most interesting cities because of its long history, dating back as least to the 5th century BC - its position as an important crossroads for Silk Road trade and its huge market. For centuries it was a major silk-production center, strategically situated on a trade route to India. Since the tenth century, pilgrims have come to visit the Suleiman Mount, a hill in the middle of the city where legend has it that the Prophet once prayed. The city is a common traveler's base for trekking and mountaineering in the stunning Pamir range.
   Talas city
is situated in the central part of the Talas valley. It was founded in 1877 by Russian and Ukrainian immigrants and was called Dmitrievka. The population of Talas includes a large concentration of non-Central Asian groups, among them ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, and Dungans. In the uplands of Talas the major economic activity is pastoralism, in the lowlands, agriculture. The population of the city is 198,000 (as of 1991).There are many old relics and monuments in the Talas valley, including numerous tumula, ruins of medieval settlements and towns and mausoleums. 22 km north-east of Talas, not far from Tash-Aryk village, in the foothills of Manastun-Chikundy mountain, there is an ancient burial ground. Not far from there is the oldest mausoleum ("gumbez") of Manas. The Mausoleum was built in the XIVth century AD. According to the legend, the mausoleum was built by Kanikey, the wife of Manas. She had the name of a woman written on the Mausoleum to deceive enemies and protect her husband's body from defilement. The one thousandth anniversary of epos Manas was celebrated in 1995.
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