What strikes you about Astana when you get up close is the diverse range of architectural styles, some classic and some neo-futuristic.The monument that stands out the most is the Bayterek tower, which stands at a height of 105 metres. It was built to mark the transfer of Kazakhstan’s capital from Almaty to Astana in 1997, and that is also symbolised with the height of the observation deck at 97 metres.
The tower represents a tree of life, a poplar, with a large golden egg left on top by a mythical bird of happiness, Samruk. Crowds of people, locals and foreigners, flock to the tower every day and night. Many also take the lift to the top to enjoy the wonderful view of the city.
Beneath the tower there is a plaza, almost five metres below the ground, with a ticket booth and an exhibition space.
To really get a perspective of Astana, a bird’s-eye view is a must. The Bayterek Tower is the obvious choice, but there are also other tall buildings in the city centre with restaurants or bars on the top.
Elsewhere, the British architect Norman Foster has left his mark in the capital, notably with his design of the giant tent-shaped Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre.
Work began on the centre in 2006 and it opened four years later. Inside there are many shops and cafés, as well as a mini-golf and even an indoor beach resort.
Foster was also behind the design of the pyramid-shaped Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. This is where Astana hosts the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, an international event that attracts dozens of religious leaders to discuss ways of improving dialogue and harmony.
The Bayterek tower, the presidential palace and the pyramid are lined up along the same route in the centre and they are among the most iconic buildings in the capital.
Two towers that stand in front of the presidential palace also add to the city’s golden allure.