Nur-Sultan (Astana)

Places of interest in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

 

Nur-Sultan (Astana)Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana, Akmola) is the capital of modern Kazakhstan since 1997. The decision to move the capital from Almaty (Alma-Ata) to Akmola was made by the First President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, because the former capital could not cope with the growth: due to the proximity of the mountains, it was difficult to build the city in breadth, the population grew rapidly and the environment quickly deteriorated.

In the shortest possible time, Akmola, located in the centre of Kazakhstan, turned into a modern metropolis. In such a way Astana, which means “capital” in Kazakh, was born. For 20 years, the city with a population of just over 280 thousand people has become a million-people city. In honour of the final decision of moving, Kazakhstan celebrates the Day of Capital on the 6th of July.

In March 2019, after Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation, Astana was renamed Nur-Sultan.

Today, Nur-Sultan is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The concept of building the metropolis is based on the idea of an Eurasian style, a symbiosis of East and West. The master plan was developed under the leadership of the Japanese architect Kise Kurokawa.

Nur-Sultan (Astana)In 1999, UNESCO declared the capital of Kazakhstan a “city of peace” for promoting ideas of religious tolerance.

Nur-Sultan has the status of a special economic zone. In 2018, the Astana International Financial Centre was opened here, working on the principles of the British law.

Nur-Sultan is divided into two parts by the Ishim river (Yesil) that flows through the city. In winter, it is cold with its Siberian extreme temperatures and in summer weather  is characterized by sweltering heat. Strong winds blow year round. To help make the climate milder, a "green" belt has been built that should reach 100 thousand hectares of vegetation spaces in the city by 2020.

Dozens of construction sites are implemented annually in Nur-Sultan. Futuristic architecture, in which Asian motifs and hi-tech are wonderfully intertwined, is rich in references to Paris, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Sydney and Athens.

Nur-Sultan (Astana)It is a city of business, science, education, sports and culture. The largest Kazakh universities work in Nur-Sultan. Concerts of world celebrities, international contests and sport competitions are held here as well. In 2011, Nur-Sultan (Astana) hosted the 7th Asian Winter Games, and in 2017, the international specialized exhibition EXPO 2017 took place here.

A bit of history

In ancient times, here there was a transhipment point on the Silk Road trade routes. There is evidence that people lived here since the Bronze Age. Artifacts of the early Iron Age and the middle Ages have been found. The ancient settlement of Bozok, located five kilometres from the centre of Nur-Sultan (Astana), is considered the ancestor of the Kazakh capital.

The name “Akmola” is translated from Kazakh as “White Shrine” or “White Grave”. It is associated with the burial of the revered leader of the nomads Niyaz-bi, located on top of a white limestone hill 20 km far from the city. According to another version, the city “Ak Mol” - “white abundance” was called so thanks to the fairs where dairy products were the main goods for sale.

In the 19th century, Akmolinsk appeared on the map which was a Cossack fort with a fortress, built to protect russian lands from raids by khanate forces. The city gradually grew around the fortified walls.

In the 1960s, Tselinograd became a centre for the development of the fertile lands of Kazakhstan and Southern Siberia. In 1992, the name Akmola had been returned to the city, under which it existed until 1997, when it was renamed Astana after capital moving.

Today, Nur-Sultan is an example of modern architecture, and its attractions emphasize the concept of an ultramodern city at the crossroads of cultures.

What to see in Nur-Sultan, attractions of Nur-Sultan:

Nur-Sultan (Astana)

  • Independence Palace is a three-story complex for official events, opened in 2008. The walls resemble the "kerege" which is the skeleton of a yurt, the traditional home of nomadic Kazakhs.  The congress hall is designed for 3082 seats. An exhibition hall has been opened in the Palace, where the works of Kazakh artists and historical artifacts are presented.
  • The National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the largest in Central Asia, equipped with the latest technology museum complex, measuring 74 thousand square meters. It consists of seven blocks, the highest of which is a nine-story building. The exposition occupies 11 halls with a total area of more than 14 thousand square meters. Here  the most valuable historical artifacts ever found in Kazakhstan are in exhibition.
  • Baiterek, a hundred-meter tower crowned with a golden ball, which is a symbol of the capital move, was opened in 2003. For the first time in the world, representatives of 17 religions prayed together at the top level of the Baiterek Monument.

Nur-Sultan (Astana)

  • Khan-Shatyr, the shopping and entertainment centre opened in 2010 became the champion of the Guinness Book of Records as the largest tent in the world. Its area is 127 thousand square meters, and the height until the top of  the spire is 150 m.
  • The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, a high-tech pyramid with an area of 28 thousand square meters, was built in 2006 for the II Congress of World and Traditional Religion leaders. In the conception of  the authors, the Palace symbolizes the unity of religions, ethnic groups and cultures.
  • Nur Alem, The Museum of the Future and the only sphere building in the world, is the central object of the world exhibition EXPO-2017. Eight floors have expositions dedicated to clean energy.
  • The Hazrat Sultan Mosque is the largest mosque in Central Asia, which was opened in the summer of 2012. It was named in honour of the revered Muslim theologian and Sufi sheikh Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, who was buried  in the city of Turkestan, Kazakhstan.

Nur-Sultan (Astana)

  • The monument “Kazakh Eli” (Kazakh people) is a 91-meter snow-white column crowned with a gilded figure of the mythical bird Samruk. At the base there are decorative niches with bas-reliefs symbolizing the people, courage, creation and the future. In front of it, the monument "Unity”  is placed, representing the multinationality of Kazakhstan.
  • Akorda is the official residence of the President of Kazakhstan. It is located on the left bank of the Ishim River, near the Baiterek monument and the complex of administrative buildings of the Parliament, the Government House, the Supreme Court and the House of Ministries of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The facade of the building which consists of five above ground and two underground floors  is lined with Italian marble. Akorda periodically is listed in the ratings of the most beautiful presidential palaces in the world.
  • Central Concert Hall “Kazakhstan”, a building designed by Italian architect Manfredi Nicolletti resembles the opening petals of a giant flower made of concrete and black glass. Inside there are three concert halls, the largest of which accommodates 3.5 thousand spectators. The Central Concert Hall “Kazakhstan” has  unique flexible acoustics, which make possible to conduct here both classical and pop music concerts, as well as film screenings and conferences.
  • Astana Opera is the State Opera and Ballet Theatre, which was built in 2013. The building in the neoclassical style has the status of an architectural monument of national importance. Teams from 33 countries participated in its construction. The lobby is decorated with inlaid Sicilian marble.

Nur-Sultan (Astana)

  • Ice Palace "Alau” is an indoor speed skating stadium, which was opened in 2011 for the Asian Games. The complex is designed for speed skating competitions and training in mini-hockey, ice hockey, short track, curling and figure skating. In 2012, it took sixth place in the ranking of world speed skating rinks.
  • Astana Arena is a stadium opened in 2009 for 30 thousand spectators. The stands are divided into two levels, lower and upper, and the sliding roof can be completely transformed in 20 minutes. The stadium was built for football battles, but it hosts competitions in wrestling, judo, boxing, as well as concerts.
  • Abu Dhabi Plaza is an ambitious project for the complex of the highest skyscrapers in Central Asia.  Its construction was started in 2010, it was planned to be finished  in six years, but the deadline has postponed to 2020. According to the project, the tallest tower should be 78 floors high.

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