I had been driving more than 1200 km in a landscape of windy, open steppes when I arrived the capital of Kazakhstan. It is a city with a striking architecture, after the city was declared the capital, taking over for Almaty, billions of dollars have been spent on magnificent buildings, gardens and art work. Astana has an impressive sky-line of designed skyscrapers and creatively designed buildings in bright white, glass and gold – and it is a distinct contrast to the nothingness surrounding it.
Previously known as Aqmola and Tselinograd, Astana was really nothing but a sleepy, Kazakh city before the president decided to change the capital of the country. Now Astana is the second largest city in the country, and is known worldwide for its modern architecture. The city is perfectly clean, and wherever you go there are well organized and colorful flower gardens in beautiful patterns.
One of the most known landmarks in Astana is the Baiterek tower, symbolizing the three of life according to Turkic mythology – also called “chupa chups” by the locals due to its similarity to a giant lollipop. In the top of the 105 meter high tower there is a golden palm print of the president, and in the busy season there is a long line of Kazakhs who wants to put their own hand in the palm print of the president.
Another building you cannot miss is the Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment center – a space like dish of 200 meters with a giant, transparent tent on top raising 150 meter up in the air. Inside the tent there is a shopping center with shops, cafés and restaurant, and on the top floors there is an amusement park with a boating river, roller coaster, mini golf and an indoor beach world.
The whole thing is in my eyes a crazy and very expensive show-off, but I cannot help being fascinated when walking among the buildings of Astana – it sometimes feels like being in another world.
What is your impression of Astana?
I´m an Oslo based web publisher with passion for communication, travel and a green lifestyle. When I travel, I prefer to go slow, sustainable, and “live like a local”. Why slow? It is about challenging the cult of speed, and to enjoy the small things in life and to live in the present.