Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, borders Central Asia’s Tian Shan range. It’s a gateway to the Kyrgyz Ala-Too mountains and Ala Archa National Park, with glaciers and wildlife trails. The city’s arts scene encompasses the monumental State Museum of Fine Arts and the colonnaded Opera and Ballet Theater. The vast, central Ala-Too Square features the Manas monument, honoring the hero of the Kyrgyz Epic of Manas.

The Soviet-era State History Museum, next to the presidential White House, explores the country’s history and ethnic groups. Dubovy Park is known for its oak trees and sculptures, while the nearby M. V. Frunze Museum preserves the birthplace of Mikhail Vasilievich Frunze, a prominent Soviet military leader who was born in the city.


Tbilisi is the capital of the country of Georgia. Its cobblestoned old town reflects a long, complicated history, with periods under Persian and Russian rule. Its diverse architecture encompasses Eastern Orthodox churches, ornate art nouveau buildings and Soviet Modernist structures. Looming over it all are Narikala, a reconstructed 4th-century fortress, and Kartlis Deda, an iconic statue of the “Mother of Georgia.”

Tbilisi’s many celebrated churches include the post-Soviet Sameba Cathedral, 6th-century Anchiskhati Basilica and clifftop Metekhi Church, which overlooks the Mtkvari River. The city’s main boulevard, Rustaveli Avenue, is lined with upscale stores, cafes and museums.


Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, is marked by grand Soviet-era architecture. The Matenadaran library, housing thousands of ancient Greek and Armenian manuscripts, dominates its main avenue. Republic Square is the city’s core, with musical water fountains and colonnaded government buildings. The 1920s History Museum of Armenia on the square’s eastern side contains archaeological objects like a circa-3500-B.C. leather shoe.

Also on Republic Square is the National Gallery, displaying European, Russian, Asian and Armenian artwork. To the north is the Cascade, a monumental grass-covered stone stairway. At its top is Victory Park, featuring an amusement park and cafes.


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