Astana – is a new and beautiful capital of Kazakhstan, which already has contributed into the history of the young, rapidly growing state. The city is spread freely in the vast steppes of northern Kazakhstan, on the banks of the majestic river of Ishim, in place of its closest approach to the river, called Nura.
It is known that in 1997 year President — Nursultan Nazarbayev has received a completely unexpected decision, which has become a life-changing — to move the capital of the country, from Almaty, situated in the south — into the center of the country. By 1998 year, this decision was embodied into the life. Therefore, very soon Astana became a center of economic, political and cultural life of the state.
The transfer of capital — the decision is not momentary, but deeply thoughtful and motivated by an important geopolitical location of the new city — the center of the country and the Eurasian continent, availability of all necessary transport and communication infrastructure, and an abundance of available land for large-scale development of the new metropolis.
If you believe the scientists archaeologists, the history of Astana is interesting and multifaceted. Not so long time ago numerous artifacts dating from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Middle Ages have been discovered in the city. And there is nothing surprising, because the current city has long been located at a convenient crossroads of trade routes on their way from Central Asia into Europe.
Actually, the story of the city began in 1830 year, when Kazakh lands were gradually annexed by Tsarist Russia, at the time, when Cossack settlement, Russian outpost of «Akmola» («White Grave») was founded here. A little later a small fortress grew into the city and became an important center for the region, being in fact an economic and administrative core of the whole district.
In 1961 year, the city, which had been named already as Akmolinsk, was renamed one more time and became known as Tselinograd. But after all, in 1992 year the town returned its historical name of Akmola. On May 6, 1998 year the new capital was officially named to be Astana, which being translated, actually means «capital» or «major city».
These days the capital is a large enough metropolis with an area of just over 700 square kilometers and a population of about 700 thousand people, while those who desire to live here still continue to arrive. The basis of the migration flows consists of people from all over the country and ethnic Kazakhs from abroad. The national aspect of Astana residents is as follows: Kazakhs — 65.2%, Russian — 23.8%, Ukrainians — 2.9%, Tatars — 1.7%, Germans — 1.5%, other nationalities — 4.9 %.
Astana’s economy is based on trade, construction, transport and communications.
Astana is a major railway junction at the crossroad of the main branches: Barnaul — Pavlodar — Astana — Kartaly — Magnitogorsk and Petropavlovsk — Karaganda — Balkhash. There is a modern international airport just only sixteen miles from the city that receives all types of aircraft.
In 2002 year, by presidential decree, the capital became the center of the Special Economic Zone — «Astana — New City,» which provided a favorable investment climate and attracted numerous private investors. At the same time, the competition for grand development plan of the capital in the difficult struggle was won by an outstanding theoretician and master of the world architecture — Keisha Kurokawa.
Into the basis of the architectonics of Astana, he put a rather complex idea of symbiosis, metabolism and abstract symbolism. This city for the Japanese architect became a living organism and a part of the local landscape that lives in harmony with the environment. Builders from the start were given a challenge — to build a great metropolis, looking to the future, bright, comfortable and dynamic.
And nowadays, after a very short period of time, Astana already has much to be proud to show to visitors and offer to numerous tourists.
Attractions of Astana.
Baiterek — the main symbol of Astana.
Baiterek Tower – is an ambitious project of English architect, named Foster Norton, which literally, since its erection, was the undisputed symbol of the city, its business card. This «poplar» (Kazakh «Baiterek») made of metal, glass and concrete is absolutely unique in its design and grandiose in its implementation: mass of metal construction, the height of 105 feet and weighing over 1,000 tons rests on five hundred pillars. The upper part has a spherical shape, weighing 300 tons and 22 meters in diameter, made of glass «chameleon» that changes color depending on the sunlight.
The tower is very interesting for visitors. At the level of 97 meters above the ground, symbolizing the year of declaration of Astana capital of the republic, there is an observatory — a special area, with stunning views of the city, as well as art gallery, a large aquarium and a restaurant.
Map of Kazakhstan — «Atameken».
That is an unusual ethnopark, a unique open-air museum. The area of exposure of the card here is about 1.7 hectares, on which there are cultural and historical attractions of Kazakhstan. Here, on a smaller scale you will be able to see all 14 regions of the country and 2 cities of republican importance — Astana and Almaty. Amount of the exhibits in the complex has exceeded 200 items, and continues to grow every day.
That is a grand entertainment center on the left bank area of Astana. «Duman» includes: 3D-cinema, a museum area — domed hall, hotel, «The Jungle» attraction, bowling, casino, cafes and shopping halls, as well as children’s playground. But the chief pride of the complex, of course, is a huge aquarium, located in the heart of the Kazakh Steppe.
The main part of the Oceanarium – is a large aquarium, where under the bottom of a glass the tunnel with the length of about 70 meters is located. This is where you will have the opportunity to walk on the sea bottom, and literally to touch its formidable marine predators — sharks, as well as to admire the no less bloodthirsty of their brethren: piranhas, seahorses, anemones, sea urchins, etc.
Presidential Palace «Ak Orda».
That is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The palace is located on the left bank of Ishim, three hundred meters from the monument of the capital Baiterek. The total area of the building is 36 720 square meters and the height together with a spire — is 80 meters. Presentation of the new Presidential Palace of the Republic of Kazakhstan was held in December of 2004 year. However, today this magnificent building is not a closed state object. On the initiative of the President regularly study tours are made here, being interrupted only by a visit to the residence of the president.
Museum of the First President.
Here you can see the interior and furniture, books, paintings, souvenirs, donated to the president of Kazakhstan — Nursultan Nazarbayev, his personal belongings and documents, weapons, graphics, decorative arts and much more.
The museum regularly holds interesting exhibitions and displays of various subjects.
It is located on the left bank of Ishim and is unique throughout — ranging from architectural design and its high-tech performance to a totally new circus band.
The auditorium of the modern circus stores up to 2000 spectators. There is the arena with a diameter of 13 meters in the center, which is equipped with the newest devices and mechanisms for the various programs: safety, water and ice shows and many others. Here you will see acrobats, equilibrists, trainers, djigits on horses, trapeze artists, magicians and clowns – everything that the soul may wish to come true or wild imagination of fans of the circus.
In 2005 year, the government of the City of Astana declared a competition among sculptors, artists and designers to design f decorative sculptures and small architectural forms in order to decorate the city. Best of the proposed works have been implemented. Thus, as a result the capital’s streets have unusual and very attractive sculptures.
This work gave the city a very special view, adding freshness, flavor and charm to the streets of Astana. Each work differs much from many others, but they certainly have in common the desire to embody the very essence of Kazakh culture thanks to bronze, stone and even plastic.
That is event, which is organized in the streets of Astana on the eve of New Year, that already became traditional. Each year the parade of sculpture is united with a common theme, that is why the icy town is absolutely unique complex.
Following the tradition, there is a rink in the center of that complex, and, of course, ice slides are placed here, which always enjoy the wildly popular among local children, regardless of wind, snow and frost.
In the evening, sculptures made of ice are illuminated by colored illumination, thus they become «warm» and almost alive, representing an unforgettable sight.