If you’ve ever encountered the National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex Sulayman in Osh, Kyrgyzstan it’s likely because of some beautiful aerial photography of the elegant soviet-era bonnet platform protruding from the rockface.
It was that elegant facade that also attracted me to the building too, but as they say ‘come for the architectural facade, stay for the scary-ass carved giant eagle perched in the foyer’.
The Sulayman mountain has been a sacred site for as long as people have wandered through the region and is still includes several recognised pilgrimage sites for worshipers of Islam. The town of Osh also lies along the silk road and so this region has numerous treasures and influences from a diverse collection of visitors travelling the historic route. Kyrgyzstan came under Russian rule in the late 1800s and it was under the Soviet Government that this grand museum was installed into the cliff.
And when I say into the cliff – I do mean ‘IN’. The entire museum stretches through a series of natural and man-made caves. The result is that some of the exhibitions are installed on vertigo-inducing staircases.
For example along the museum entrance staircase they have installed stuffed animals at strategic points so you can feign interest in biology as your unfit western heart explodes from the exertion.
The joy of living in the future is the ability to snoop around inside monuments great and small so I recommend if you’re unable to visit in person to at least click through online to see the wonder of this half-forgotten monument. My particular favourite is a carefully and beautifully recreated oasis that appears to have dramatically died between photography visits.
The museums you find away from the beaten path are always my favourite. Buildings filled with things that seemed like a good idea at the time, and the dust from a thousand tired visitors wondering how on earth they ended up here.
I hope one day to get the chance to visit this impressive half-forgotten monument – if only to enjoy the incredible view.