A Tour Throuh the Almaty Metro
Updated March 2020, A Tour Through the Almaty Metro was originally written in October 2019
This is a guide to the Almaty Metro including the most beautiful and interesting stations in Kazakhstan’s largest city of Almaty.
Full disclosure: I’m a complete moron when it comes to public transportation. You could probably blame it on me being from the USA, I mean, we are a nation of people who love their cars after all. Mostly I’d say you should blame it on my Alaskaness— as public transport is almost non-existent here (for real, take a look at a People Mover coverage map and tell me how easy it is to get around Anchorage, and more so between Anchorage and its neglected northern and southern ‘burbs). But I can without a doubt say that the Almaty Metro puts the subways of New York, Paris, and Budapest to great shame (though, it’s not quite as grandiose as the Tashkent and Moscow metros). In this post, you’ll get to see some of the world’s most beautiful metro stations, including, cost, tips, the best stations to visit, and a little history on the stations. If you’re starting to plan your travels in Kazakhstan, I recommend picking up a copy of the Bradt Kazakhstan guidebook to help you organize your visit.
A Quick History Of The Almaty Metro
Construction of the Almaty Metro began in 1988 under the Soviet Union, but the project quickly halted as the USSR collapsed and funding from Moscow evaporated. After 15 years Kazakhstan began laying out a plan to get the Almaty Metro project up and going again and from 2005-2011 the metro was constructed. On December 1, 2011, the Almaty Metro finally opened after 23 years from its initial start with seven stations opened: Raimbek Batyr, Jibek Joli, Almali, Abay, Baikonur, Auezov Theatre, and Alatau. By 2015 the two stations of Sayran and Moskva would be added on. Two more stations are slated to open in 2021. As of now, the Almaty Metro consists of one single line and nine stations, but there are future plans to open two additional lines. The metro is currently 11 kilometers in length, but planned additions that are slated to begin in 2022 and be operational by 2025 would extend its length by 25 more kilometers. A second line consisting of 10 more stations is planned to begin in 2026 and be completed in 2035.
Check Out Best Things To Do In Almaty
Important Almaty Metro Info
Cost Of The Almaty Metro
A metro ticket will set you back a whopping 80 Kazakh Tenge ($0.20 USD). You can purchase yellow metro tokens at the kassa windows inside each of the metro stations. Children under the age of 7 ride free and kids (7-15 years old) ride for half the price (40 KZT). You can also opt for a prepaid card that costs 100 KZT and can be reloaded with a max of 60 trips. The prepaid card is valid for 3 years.
Hours Of Operation
The metro trains run from 6:20am to 11:30pm. The first train for the morning departs Raimbek Batyr Station at 6:24am and arrives to Moskva Station by 6:40am. Trains run on a 10 minute interval on weekdays with that interval being shortened to 8 minutes during peak rush hours. On weekends and holidays the trains run on 15 minute intervals.
Need Inspiration? Check Out 32 Photos That Will Make You Book A Ticket To Kazakhstan
Almaty Metro Map
Almaty Metro Stations
My personal favorites are Jibek Joli and Baikonur stations, however, each station is ornate and unique in its own right.
Raimbek Batyr (Райымбек Батыра)
Raimbek was an 18th century Kazakh hero who was awarded the title of Batyr for his efforts in fending off the Dzungar invasions into Kazakh territories and helped liberate Kazkahs oppressed by the Dzungarian Empire. The station has high arched-ceilings and as you exit the platform on the escalator you’ll see a large statue of Raimbek Batyr on horseback.
Jibek Joli (Жибек Жолы)
Jibek Joli is the Kazakh (and other Turkic based languages) name for the Silk Road. The architecture of the Jibek Joli Metro Station reflects elements of Kazakh nomadic culture. The walls resemble the lattice-like appearance of the inside of a yurt and the end of the platform has a mural that displays the Shanyrak, the top opening of a yurt and important cultural symbol in Kazakhstan (as well as Kyrgyzstan).
Almaty is the ‘City of Apples’. To celebrate the fruit that gives Almaty its nickname it was only fitting to name a station Almali, the word for apple in Kazakh. When you walk out off the platform you’ll notice a glass mural of an apple tree. The floors and walls of Almali Station reflect patterns that can be seen in traditional Kazakh felt and carpet works.
Who Rumi is to Iran is who Abay is to Kazakhstan. Abay Qunanbaiuli was Kazakhstan’s most famous and celebrated poet. The station is adorned with Florentine style mosaics and at either end a bronze relief of Abay.
Baikonur Station pays homage to the Baikonur Kosmodrome, the largest space complex in the world. Located in southeastern Kazakhstan at the banks of the Syr-Darya River, Baikonur was home to the Soviet Space Program from 1955 until the collapse of the USSR and since has been rented and administered by the Russian Federation. Baikonur is the launching site for many famous space expeditions including the launch of Sputnik-1, Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space), Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space) and more ground breaking firsts. Baikonur Station has a futuristic look with gleaming white and blue panels and even plays launch footage on a large screen at the end of the platform. Akzheleng Bassen was the artist behind the unique design.
Looking For An Almaty City Break? Read How To Get To Big Almaty Lake
Auezov Theatre (Театр Имени Мухтара Ауэзова)
Circular stone carvings adorn the walls of Auezov Theatre Station depicting scenes of Kazakh traditional lifestyles and national pride that have for many years inspired Kazakh playwright’s storylines. Mukhtar Auezov was a famous Kazakh writer who penned The Path Of Abay, and is the man the Auezov Theatre was named after.
Alatau Station houses mosaics of Kazakhstan’s mountains, one of which includes the Ile-Alatau Range that flanks Almaty to the south. Alatau (sometimes written ala-too) is a Turkic word meaning diverse mountains, and thus you’ll see many a range with the name Alatau in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and more.
Sayran Lake is a manmade reservoir in the city of Almaty that the metro station of the same name sits just 1 kilometer southeast of. Sayran features a rainbow relief on the platform wall.
Moskva station honors the bond between Russia and Kazakhstan. At the time of construction, management contacted the Russian Embassy to notify that the new station would be called Moskva rather than the originally slated name of Molodyozhnaya, as a tribute to Russia and their relations. But this offer came with a stipulation: the honor be returned by naming a station of the Moscow Metro Almaty. In 2012 Russia renamed its Brateyevo Station to Alma-Atinskaya (the Russian name for Almaty).
Need More Information On The Almaty Metro?
Ask your Almaty Metro and station questions in the comments section below. You can also see more information on the metro here.