Exploring Astana: The City Of The Old And The New

From the most modern architecture symbolising the new nation's modernity to the oldest heritage sites, explore the length and breadth of Astana
An aerial view of Astana
An aerial view of AstanaShutterstock

Astana, the modern capital of Kazakhstan, has witnessed many diverse rulers ruling it across the march of history. As such, the place boasts a richly colourful history reflected in its architecture. A part of the Silk Road, Kazakhstan is marked as much by Islamic architecture as it is by Soviet and others. The architectural landscape of the city serves as a visual timeline, telling the stories of the nomadic tribes, Silk Road traders, and the Soviet era that have influenced Kazakhstan's identity. Moreover, in being an independent country, Astana has also witnessed many more new and futuristic buildings coming up on its topography. As such, Astana serves as a goldmine for history buffs. Everywhere in Astana, one can find traces of the past, making it a living museum of Kazakhstan's multifaceted history. Explore all the places a traveller, especially history buffs, must check out when in the capital of Kazakhstan.

Bayterek Tower: A Symbol of Independence

An aerial view of Bayterek Tower
An aerial view of Bayterek TowerShutterstock

The Bayterek Tower, an iconic monument designed by the renowned architect Norman Foster, stands tall as a symbol of Kazakhstan's journey to independence. According to a Kazakh folktale, the mythical bird Samruk lays its egg in the branches of the Tree of Life, and this futuristic tower represents that story. Visitors can ascend to the observation deck to enjoy the panoramic views of the city.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev's handprint at Bayterek Tower
President Nursultan Nazarbayev's handprint at Bayterek TowerShutterstock

Fun Fact: Visitors can place their hand in President Nursultan Nazarbayev's handprint, embedded in the tower's structure, and make a wish.

Presidential Palace Ak Orda: Witness to Political Evolution

Presidential Palace Ak Orda
Presidential Palace Ak OrdaShutterstock

The Ak Orda Presidential Palace in Kazakhstan is a magnificent architectural wonder that represents the country's political progress. Originally built during the Soviet era, the palace has undergone significant renovations that seamlessly blend classical and contemporary architectural styles. Today, it serves as the official residence of the President of Kazakhstan, and its grandeur reflects the nation's political evolution. The palace's unique design is a testament to Kazakhstan's status as a sovereign nation.

The gardens of Presidential Palace Ak Orda
The gardens of Presidential Palace Ak OrdaShutterstock

Fun Fact: The palace gardens are adorned with sculptures gifted by various countries, creating an international ambience.

Hazret Sultan Mosque: A Spiritual Haven

Hazret Sultan Mosque
Hazret Sultan MosqueShutterstock

Astana is the proud home of the Hazret Sultan Mosque, which happens to be the largest mosque in all of Central Asia. The mosque is a magnificent example of Ottoman-inspired architecture, and it serves as a spiritual haven for Muslims in Kazakhstan. The interiors are adorned with intricate mosaics and calligraphy, creating a serene atmosphere perfect for worship. The mosque's Ottoman-inspired design features towering minarets and intricate calligraphy and mosaics. The grandeur of the interior reflects the importance of the religious site.

Close up of the dome of Hazret Sultan Mosque
Close up of the dome of Hazret Sultan MosqueShutterstock

Fun Fact: The mosque's turquoise dome symbolises the unity of the Turkic-speaking peoples.

Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center: A Modern Marvel

Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center
Khan Shatyr Entertainment CenterShutterstock

While it may not be steeped in ancient history, the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center is a modern marvel that cannot be overlooked. Designed by Sir Norman Foster, this tent-shaped structure is home to a shopping mall, indoor beach, and entertainment facilities. The structure is made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, allowing natural light while providing shelter. Its unique design makes it a symbol of contemporary Astana. Resembling a giant tent, the design is a nod to traditional Kazakh yurts.

Fun Fact: The indoor beach, known as the "Maldives of Astana," offers a tropical escape in the heart of the city.

The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation: Promoting Harmony

The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation
The Palace of Peace and ReconciliationShutterstock

The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation is a unique pyramid-shaped building that promotes global understanding and harmony. It was designed by architect Sir Norman Foster and symbolised Kazakhstan's commitment to peace and unity on the world stage. The pyramid-shaped structure represents unity and harmony, and it hosts the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, underscoring Kazakhstan's dedication to interfaith dialogue.

Fun Fact: The palace contains a unique stained-glass pyramid depicting 130 doves, representing the ethnic groups residing in Kazakhstan.

National Museum of Kazakhstan: A Journey Through Time

National Museum of Kazakhstan
National Museum of KazakhstanShutterstock

The National Museum of Kazakhstan is a fascinating collection of historical artefacts that showcases the country's past. The museum is divided into thematic halls that take you on a journey through Kazakhstan's nomadic past, its Soviet era, and its path to independence. The exhibits include cultural relics, artefacts, and interactive displays that help bring the nation's history to life. The museum's twin buildings, shaped like an open book, symbolise Kazakhstan's past and future. The glass facade of the museum reflects the nation's openness and transparency in sharing its history.

The Golden Man at the museum
The Golden Man at the museumShutterstock

Fun Fact: The Golden Man, an ancient Scythian warrior, is a highlight of the museum's collection, offering a glimpse into Kazakhstan's nomadic past.

Independence Square: Celebrating Freedom

Independence Square, Astana
Independence Square, AstanaShutterstock

Independence Square is a large public area located at the centre of Astana. It is surrounded by notable landmarks, including the Independence Monument, which represents the country's separation from the Soviet Union. The square serves as a central location for various public events and celebrations, highlighting the nation's dedication to freedom. The design of the square is intended to promote openness and freedom.

Fun Fact: The square's central boulevard is adorned with fountains and greenery, providing a picturesque setting for public gatherings.

Astana Opera: Cultural Elegance

Astana Opera
Astana OperaShutterstock

The Astana Opera is a cultural treasure for art enthusiasts. Its neoclassical architecture is stunning and hosts world-class performances that include opera, ballet, and classical music. Not only is the opera house an architectural marvel, but it is also a cultural hub located in the heart of the city. The neoclassical design of the building is a tribute to the grandeur of traditional opera houses. The interiors are exquisitely detailed and are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

Fun Fact: The opera house hosts international performances, contributing to Astana's growing reputation as a cultural destination.

Central Park: Nature Amidst Urbanity

Nestled in the midst of the bustling cityscape, Central Park in Astana serves as a peaceful oasis. This verdant park boasts many scenic walking trails and recreational areas, making it an idyllic retreat for tourists and locals. The park's architecture and design incorporate elements of traditional Kazakh landscaping, creating a fusion of nature and culture. The park features a variety of walking trails, recreational areas, and traditional Kazakh gardens, making it a perfect blend of nature and culture.

Fun Fact: The park hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, making it a vibrant centre for community gatherings.

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