Eastern charm of the Kok Bazaar in Almaty

Heewon Jang | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The Kok Bazaar (which in Kazakh means the green market), in Almaty on the crossroad of Zenkov and Zhipek Zholy streets, looks like an ordinary eastern market. Here, you can buy everything your heart desires: from meat, spices, and fruits to textiles and furniture. Somehow, it can remind you of the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul but at a smaller scale. If you are a fan of eastern bazaars, you'll love this place. But if you've never visited such places, prepare yourself to walk and talk a lot. The life at the Kok Bazaar never stops. By the way, don't get too fascinated by the eastern charm of the Kok Bazaar and always keep your eyes on your personal belongings, it's a crowded place, and the police won't help you a lot there. You can inform yourself better, check what you need to know before visiting Kazakhstan.

Picture © Credits to Spacekid/Wikipedia

History of the Kok Bazaar

The history of this center of city trading is quite interesting. The Kok Bazaar, or rather its prototype, appeared at this exact place more than a hundred years ago, and since then has remained an important trading point of Almaty. In 1875, one influential merchant Rafikov from Semipalatinsk gave an order to build the Gostiny Dvor **(a Russian term for a typical indoor market, some kind of a shopping center). Almaty at that time was named Verny, and Vernensky Gostiny Dvor served as a haven for visiting merchants and caravans passing through the city. So, the local merchants opened their shops here. Gostiny Dvor consisted of two pavilions, which were located along the shopping street. At that time, it was also possible to buy various snacks, and customers were offered a choice of fresh vegetables, fruits, greens, and cereals. On the stands, one could also find raw materials, firewood, household utensils and much more. The best-seller of that time was a tea brought from China. Just like today, there were cab drivers at the market, ready to take everyone back home with their purchases. 

Shortly speaking, almost nothing changed. Time passed, but the place stuck in the past. The Kok Bazaar was destroyed and rebuilt several times - after the terrible earthquake (1887), the Lenin's revolution (1917) and in 1970. In the Soviet time, communists tried to give the Kok Bazaar a new name - Central collective farm market, but locals continued to call it the Kok Bazaar. Since 1970, the look of the Kok Bazaar didn't change.

Picture © Credits to Elena Odareeva/iStock

The Kok Bazaar today

The Kok Bazaar of our days is a popular place among tourists, and it's often included in various excursion programs. Travelers are attracted by the opportunity to buy various edibles (and not only souvenirs), communicate with friendly sellers of different nationalities, and get to know the everyday life of Kazakhs. So, come to Almaty to see yourself the eastern charm of the Kok Bazaar

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