Central Asian capitals have never been known for futuristic architecture and skyscrapers, but rather for medieval architecture and ancient settlements. However, there’s always an exception, right? The capital of Kazakhstan has very modern look with space-age buildings and monuments. Astana is slowly becoming a hot touristic destination in Central Asia; it gives very unique vibes, different from atmosphere of antiquity that other cities give.
What’s interesting is that the capital of Kazakhstan is the second largest city in the country and quite a remoted destination. Astana became a planned capital because of many problems Almaty, the first capital, faced in the end of 20th century: overpopulation, limited development of the city, worsening environment, and earthquake-prone region. The city started from a settlement called Akmoly in 1830, which was established as fortress. The settlement became the city in 1961 and was renamed Tselinograd. Modern name is translated as “the capital”.
The capital of Kazakhstan is a mix of shiny metal buildings and old Soviet districts; just cross the river and you’ll find yourself in a completely different city. Let’s be honest there’re plenty of Soviet cities all around Central Asia, but there aren’t a lot of cities like Astana. Just like Turkmenistan that uses its large deposits to enlarge its white marble capital, Kazakh government invests a lot of money from gas and oil in Astana. For example, the largest marquee in the world is located guess where? In Astana, of course! Moreover, this shopping center called Khan-Shatyr is has artificial beach with sand from the Madives and special microclimate, because, you know, no shopping center can do without a beach. The largest synagogue in Central Asia is right there, in the capital of Kazakhstan; it’s a beautiful baby-blue building. Other places of interest are Baiterek, Hazrat Sultan Mosque, and Ak-Orda.