Apples are big in Almaty.
The city is even named after them – alma is the Kazakh for ‘apple’. Apples are everywhere, most strikingly in a public artwork of a yellow car bursting with red apples.
The wild apple trees from which the cultivated fruit we know today are descended grew in the nearby Tien Shan mountains. The symbol of the Almaty is the shiny red aport apple. The variety was brought to Almaty from Voronezh by Igor Redko in 1865. It flourished in the local soil and the fruit grew in size, weighing in at around half a kilo each and dwarfing the average Granny Smith. In Soviet times, the big red apples from Almaty were a feature of Kremlin dinners. Sadly, most of the orchards were abandoned or built on after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, but there are some signs of recovery. The Aport-Apple project restored an orchard which is now once again producing the giant red apples.
The Aport Apple
A cable car will take you from the city to the summit of Kok-Tobe, the ‘Green Mountain’ for views over the city. Here among the souvenir stalls and opportunities to be photographed holding an eagle you will find an apple fountain. Close by is a statue of the Beatles. Well, their record company was called Apple.
We visited Almaty in September 2019