Aurora is an architectural landmark on the northern shore of Issyk Kul, some four hours from Bishkek. The Aurora Sanatorium was built in 1979 exclusively for the Communist Party elite. 350 employees tended to the needs of 200 guests. Today hidden in the basement of the Aurora is a museum-shrine to Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet vozhd. Brezhnev, who owned a dacha nearby, gave the idea of building a sanatorium at the northern shore of lake Issyk Kul.
‘Visiting a Soviet-era sanatorium is like stepping back in time. Vestiges of another age linger all around - in fragments of decades-old wallpaper stubbornly clinging to walls, or colourful mosaics glorifying the Soviet worker. Soviet-era sanatoriums are among the most innovative, and sometimes most ornamental, buildings of their time - from Kyrgyzstan’s Aurora, designed in the shape of a ship, to Druzhba, a Constructivist masterpiece on the Crimean Peninsula. Such buildings challenge the standard notion that architecture under communism was unsightly and drab.’ Maryam Omidi, ‘Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums’
The sanatorium building resembles a ship: perhaps Chingiz Aitmatov’s White Ship, perhaps even the Aurora cruiser in St Petersburg. The sanatorium has the largest landscaped garden in Issyk Kul. It is still a joy to get lost in it. There is even a dinosaur - we don’t know how and why it ended up here.
The Aurora is an all-inclusive resort. Breakfast, lunch and dinner,
games and activities, film screenings and spa procedures are included in the
stay. All meals take place at a set time in a communal dining room. Food is
The sanatorium is an architectural wonder. Walking down its corridors you can feel how classy it used to be. It oozes of socialist chic. And smells of communism. The Aurora is a must see and experience on any trip to Kyrgyzstan.