This city of Kazakhstan was named Aqmola until 1998, but after it became the capital in 1997 the name was changed to Astana – which means “capital” in Kazakh. Enormous amounts of money have been used to remove the buildings from the Soviet era, and replace them with hyper modern buildings and landmarks. The most famous landmark is the tower Bayterek. The legend behind this tower as symbol is that it represents a poplar tree where the magic bird Samruk laid its egg. In the top of the tower there is an imprint of the president Nursultan Nazarbayevs hand – and the Kazakhs are crazy about getting up there to get their photograph taken with their hand in the hand of the president.
Have you been to Astana, or is it on your travel list?