Ruh-Ordo Complex/ Культурный центр Рух-Ордо
Address: Чолпон-Ата, Киргизия
Hours 9-5 Monday-Sunday
Admission: 300 som
If you visit Lake Issyk-Kul during the summer, check out the Ruh-Ordo Complex at Cholpon-Ata. This complex is an open air museum with beaches that boats an array of sculptures and cultural pieces, along with buildings devoted to Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, and Russian Orthodox Christianity. There are also a few other buildings with art and information about famous Kyrgyz individuals including a whole building devoted to Chingiz Aitmatov (Чингиз Торекулович Айтматов), probably the best-known figure in Krygyz literature.
The Ruh-Ordo complex was built in 2002 and was originally was closed to the public, only influential individuals picked by the state could enter. Only in 2007 was it finally opened to the public. Now they give tours daily in Russian. The name translates roughly to “Spiritual Center,” which fitting given the many religions brought together here. It’s mission is to promote peace around the world and help the spiritual development of those who visit. The tours last about two hours and free with the cost of admission, though it is a challenge to follow two hours of Russian.
The complex is interesting and has a wide array of buildings and artifacts. One can find contemporary sculpture, copies of statues of ancient Greek gods and goddesses, wood sculptures, fountains, and a Buddha statue. Great thinkers like Aristotle and Copernicus are here too.
Each of the religions has its own building which has some art and pieces to represent the culture of that religion and the tour guide gives a general outline of each culture and the influence it has had on Kyrgyz culture and history.
Another interesting thing about the complex when I visited was that it hosted the second annual “Мейкин Азия”/“Open Asia” pop music festival. The four day festival is a combination music competition and cultural exchange program where singers from various countries compete for a $5,000 first prize. The festival is put on by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Kyrgyzstan.