Astana is an administrative, political, business and cultural centre of the country, and since 1997 the capital of Kazakhstan. The city is located on the Ishim River in the region of Akmola, in the central part of the country. From the moment the capital was relocated here, the city has been developing dynamically. Astana wants to be perceived as a city of the future – its unique style of architecture where tradition mingles with modernity is highlighted in particular.
Astana is one of few capitals built in the 21st century. Boulevards and avenues have been designed with impetus. Along main communication tracts, there are bike paths and footpaths; the city has many parks, it is open and spacious. A famous Japanese architect Kishō Kurokawa designed the reconstruction of Astana, and it is to him that the city owes the elements of design typical for Central Asia. Astana also possesses a modern urban infrastructure: it is one of main transportation hubs of the country; it has a railway station and a bus station, as well as a developed city transport. Astana is the second largest airport hub in Kazakhstan.
Astana has a continental climate. The summers are long and dry. During EXPO – from June to September – the average temperature will be 20 centigrades.
Tourist attractions of Astana
Bayterek is the symbol of Astana. The construction of the monument – a 97 metres tall viewing tower - ended in 2002, and Bayterek quickly became a popular tourist attraction. On its top, a terrace and a gallery of art are located. The monument, being an artistic rendering of a tree and the Sun, is an embodiment of a Kazakh legend about the magical bird of happiness – Samruk, which laid an egg in a crevice of a mythical tree of life sustaining the sky. That is how Sun was created.
The Pyramid of Happiness and Reconciliation is a building designed by Norman Foster. The pyramid symbolises happiness, unity and peace on the land of Kazakhstan. The building was created for the needs of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, and it became a meeting and reconciliation place for the world’s main religions. Inside the pyramid there are places for representatives of different religions, a national museum, a university, a scientific/research centre, a library and an opera hall.
The Khan Shatyr Shopping and Entertainment Centre is another of spectacular buildings, recently constructed in Astana. Khan Shatyr is a large, 150 metres high tent spanning over the area of 127 thousand square metres. This is more less the same as 10 football courts! The Forbes classified this unique building among 10 most interesting eco-buildings in the world. Aside from shops and restaurant, under the tent you can find a leisure centre, a beach, an artificial river, and a golf club, and all of this in a tropical climate with temperature of 35 centigrades all year round.
Nurzhol Boulevard is the main promenade of Astana. It connects the Khan Shatyr Centre with the Presidential Palace. The boulevard is full of greenery, flowers, fountains and monuments. It is surrounded by buildings of the new economic and financial centre of the Kazakh capital.
Hazrat Sultan is the largest mosque in Central Asia, named in honour of one of Sufi sheikhs, Khoya Ahmed Yassawi – a poet, philosopher and a Muslim saint, who lived in the 12 th century.
Kazakh Eli (literally it means “the Earth of the Kazakhs”) is one of the most beautiful heritage sites of Astana. The monument is made of white marble and it is surrounded by beautiful fountains. On the top of its 91-metre column a mythical bird of happiness Samruk is placed.
The Opera and Ballet Theatre in Astana – the Astana opera is the third largest opera in the world: it can host up to 1500 people. The edifice houses also a museum and a ballet school. The building of the theatre is a work of architects from Europe, Russia and Kazakhstan; it combines elements of baroque with classical Roman and Greek forms.
The National Museum of the History of Kazakhstan is a new museum, opened in 2014. The history of Kazakhstan is shown here with the use of new technologies.