Saturday, October 25, 2014

An Autumn Walk in Astana, Kazakhstan

It's been a while since I posted. Busy life.... Last week I was In Kazakhstan for work. It was my first visit to Central Asia. It was a fascinating experience. The Kazakh people were a major contributor to that. I had three quarters of a day to explore what I could of Astana and then a full day to explore Almaty. I hope you enjoy the walk. The weather started off freezing and gloomy but then the sun broke through and gave me a glorious day.

Astana is the new capital of Kazakhstan. It was transferred from Almaty to Astana in December 1997. The word Astana means 'Capital' This building is the 'Triumph of Astana'. Like Triumph-Palace in Moscow, this building is modeled after the flamboyant style of 1950s Soviet architecture, exemplified by the Vysotniye Zdaniya skyscrapers (the Seven Sisters)
The State Theatre of Opera and Ballet «Astana Opera» was founded in 2013 on the initiative of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. At the opening of the theatre the President said: "A country that is building factories and roads, creates a solid footing for years to come. A country, which builds schools and hospitals, takes care of the future of the nation for decades. The country that is building theatres looks forward through the centuries"

Khan Shatyr ("Royal Marquee") is a giant transparent tent. The 150m-high (500 ft) tent has a 200m elliptical base covering 140,000 square metres (14 ha; 35 acres).[2] Underneath the tent, an area larger than 10 football stadiums, is an urban-scale internal park, shopping and entertainment venue with squares and cobbled streets, a boating river, shopping centre, minigolf and indoor beach resort. I didn't get the time to go inside!

This is the HQ for Kazakhstan's state-owned oil and gas company KazMunayGas

The Nur-Astana Mosque (Kazakh: Нұр-Астана мешіті, Nur-Astana meşiti). It is the second largest mosque in Kazakhstan and in Central Asia

It was a gift in accordance with the agreement of the Kazakhstan President, Nursultan Nazarbayev and the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa. It has a capacity of 5,000 worshippers inside the mosque, including 2,000 for worshippers outside the mosque. 

Northern Lights is a mixed office and residential building. Its construction was completed in early 2010. It is located on the fast-developing Left Bank area of lying approximately halfway between the now iconic Bayterek Tower and the giant KazMunayGaz headquarters. The complex consists of three towers of 32, 34 and 42 floors, all of which are recognisable from some considerable distance by their distinctive wavy, curvaceous outlines and garnish of blue-green reflective glass. I only managed to shoot two of the towers!

Here is the most famous landmark in Astana. Bayterek (Kazakh: Бәйтерек, Bäyterek, "tall poplar [tree]"), is a monument and observation tower. A tourist attraction popular with foreign visitors and native Kazakhs alike, it is emblematic of the city, which became capital of the country in 1997.

The shape of Bayterek represents a poplar tree holding a golden egg. These come from a folktale of the tree of life, a central symbol in Turkic mythology, and Samruk the magical bird of happiness, said to have laid its egg between the branches of a poplar tree.

The 105m tall structure rises from a wide flat base within a raised plaza. It consists of a narrow cylindrical shaft, surrounded by white branch-like girders that flare out near the top, supporting a gold-mirrored 22m-diameter sphere. The base contains a ticket booth and exhibition space, with two lifts rising within the shaft to the observation deck within the 'egg'

View to the Akorda (Kazakh: Ақорда, Aqorda, "the white horde") Presidential Palace is the official workplace of the President of Kazakhstan
There was hardly anyone around so getting an unblocked view was not difficult!

Situated on the left bank of the Ishim (Esil) River, it is the president’s place of work and houses the staff of the Presidential Administration; it is not the president’s place of residence.[3] The palace includes a blue and gold dome topped with a spire. This golden statue atop the dome includes a sun with 32 rays at its apex, and also includes a steppe eagle flying beneath the sun.

The golden towers. They are government buildings but not sure what purpose they serve practically. Aesthetically that add to the incredible attention to symmetry that is present all along the the direct walk from the Khan Shatyr to the Pyramid behind the Akorda

At this point I think I got just a little too close. A Guard was sent to check me out. Luckily all my papers were in order and I had them with me. He was very polite and we managed well with my non existent Kazakh and his slighlty better English

One of two weddings I encountered on my walk

At the beginning of the day I had to take refuge in a shopping centre to buy a hat. It was sooooo cold. But at this point it was positively warm and I had far too many clothes. I didn't know where to put them all!


The Government built one huge long building and put all the ministries in it! Practical and sensible. I wish Singapore had done the same!

Walking back, the Bayterek is too lovely to ignore

Beijing Palace Soluxe Hotel Astana.I didn't stay there, but the Hilton, where I did stay was very comfortable and the staff just great.

The trees were a beautiful autumn colour.A real treat for me as I live in Singapore and rarely see the beauty of the autumn....

....and just to prove the point

Reindeer are found in the highlands of Kazakhstan, far away from Astana which is firmly planted on the Kazakh steppes

This building is known locally as the "cigarette lighter" building

Coming to the end, which was also the beginning of my walk now

Building and completion work is going on in many places around the city

One last look!

My first photo was in the gloomy cold weather. This puts another light on it!!!

As does this....

....where I met my second wedding and managed to get a better shot. I hope their wedding will be as good as my visit to Astana. An intriguing, unusual city of the future. I wish the happy couple, and the Capital City of Astana every success.

Next....the old capital of Kazakhstan - Almaty