Nur-Sultan is the capital city of Kazakhstan, which was previously known as Astana. The city was renamed in 2019 after the Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev. It’s the second largest city of the country after Almaty known as the “Singapore of the Steppe”.
The city got its nickname because of the modern buildings, international offices, hotel chains representing Asian, Western, Soviet styles of architecture. It all started in 1997 when the popular president Nursultan Nazarbaev decided to move the old capital (Almaty) to a small town called Akmola. One year later he renamed the city into Astana, which literally means “capital city”. So the dusty small settlement was quickly turned into the capital, where the Parlament House, Supreme Court, Akorda Presidential Palace are situated.
Getting around the city is quite easy, as it is a “planned” city with good infrastructure. Travelling to the city is also quite easy and comfortable, as there are a lot of airlines coming to Astana, trains, and buses going to the nearest cities and countries. Though you should be careful about choosing the time of the year to visit the city. Nur-Sultan is the second coldest capital in the whole world. The best time to visit is between March to November. So what to see in this newly built capital?
Let’s start with the impressive Kazakh collection in the city. It is displayed in the New National Museum, where you can learn about the Kazakh history starting from prehistoric times to nomadic eras up to nowadays.
Probably the most famous and popular sight of the city is the Bayterek Tower. It is situated in the heart of the city. It is a massive building with 97 meters height resembling a vase. Bayterek means “tall poplar tree”. The whole architecture is connected with the local legend about the tree of life and the magical bird Samruk. Besides being a beautiful monument it also offers the best views of the city. It is possible to get 360-degree views of Nur-Sultan from the observation deck.
One of the biggest mosques in Central Asia (after the one in Turkmenistan) is also situated in Nur-Sultan, so it might also be included in your list. The mosque is called Hasrat Sultan translated as “Holy Sultan”. This title was given to Khoja Ahmed Yasavi- the Sufi Sheikh of Central Asia. 5000 people can be present inside the mosque at the same time.
Another interesting sight is the pyramid of the city, known as the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. The Pyramid has places for different religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism, and other faiths.
The Kazakh state is still trying to make Nur-Sultan a worthy capital. It’s a bustling modern city with its shopping malls, futuristic monuments, entertainment centres, etc. So if you love modern architecture you will enjoy spending your time here.