My first visit to a Communist-era apartment was a memorable one. I was in a provincial city in Bulgaria, had just turned 18 years old and was with my father visiting my grandmother. Dusk rapidly approached and we took a cab a little bit outside the center. We stopped in front of a big – at least 15 story graying building and got out. After paying the driver we walked in, by now it was nearly dark and the light in the lobby was out. Laughing, we fumbled our way to the tiny elevator and ascended. We got off on the seventh floor, and stepped onto the musty, grimy landing.
Opening the door I was truly shocked. Instead of matching the dirt and dilapidation of the outside, it was a beautiful, cozy 3 room apartment. By now I am used to this discrepancy, but every once in a while, stepping into someone’s warm, inviting apartment, I think back to that moment.
There is one building in Almaty that, although I’ve never been inside, brings up these thoughts by having the most queer external appearance in a city of strange architecture. Any visitor will surely remember it this unique structure, lying on Dostyk (Lenina) street. In fact, it even has a distinct name: Три Богатыря (Tri Bogatyrya) – The Three Warriors.
The name comes from the term used in ancient Russian legends about three noble warriors, sort of like knights. And in a twist (or perhaps intentionally) the name of this building in Kazakhstan comes from a Turco-Mongol root word, given to heroes and fighters.
Built in 1970, the 12 floor apartment complex – three buildings (hence the three bogatyrs) with a unified two floor base – now sits behind a statue of Kazakh poet and singer Zhambyl. It was the beginning of an overall revitilization project of the area, and housed (and still does) a movie theater and Museum of Archeology.
Since Independence, like many buildings, the once uniform exterior has been transformed into a fascinating collage by the varying ремонты of the balconies. What follows after the break are some pictures from my last trip of the remarkable building. Enjoy.