If you are planning a trip to Kazakhstan, be sure to check out Nur-Sultan! Formerly called Astana, this futuristic capital is a must see for anyone enamored with modern architecture.
The city's left bank features some of the most glitzy architectural wonders that will leave you spellbound. But the old part of town also offers something worth exploring!
1. Khan Shatyr
Among the many interesting things to see and do in Nur-Sultan is the Khan Shatyr, a transparent tent designed by British architect Norman Foster. The building opened in 2010 and is one of the most prominent symbols of Astana's futuristic vision.
Located in the heart of the city, Khan Shatyr is an architectural wonder that attracts many tourists each year. This tented structure features a huge commercial market that houses world-class brands of clothing, perfumes, fashion, sports equipment, home furnishings and children's accessories.
The building is constructed using a special chemical coating that protects the inside of the tent from extreme temperature changes and helps maintain a comfortable microclimate. Even when it's -30 degrees Celsius outside, the internal temperature remains pleasant.
2. Hazrat Sultan Mosque
A must-see for anyone planning to visit Nur-Sultan, Hazrat Sultan Mosque is one of the largest mosques in Central Asia. It is also a major symbol of the city’s Islamic revival.
This colossal building, opened in 2012, resembles an oriental palace and is a marvel of modern architecture. It has Kazakhstan’s largest dome and beautifully marbled interiors.
The entire area of the mosque is more than 11 hectares and can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers at once. It includes prayer halls, a Koran reading room, wedding halls and classrooms for seminars and lectures.
The mosque is named after Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, a Sufi saint who was well-known in the territory of all Central Asia. He was a great teacher and a preacher of Islam.
3. Atameken Ethno-Memorial Complex
The Atameken Ethno-Memorial Complex is an excellent attraction for tourists and locals alike. It displays miniature copies of Kazakhstan’s landmark buildings and landscapes, and is a great way to learn about the country’s history and culture.
There are hundreds of small-scale models of buildings, mosques and towers in this museum, so you can see all of Kazakhstan’s famous attractions in one place. You can also take a tour of the craftsmen’s workshop to see how the models are made.
This is a unique open-air museum that shows the entire country’s landmarks, cities and natural attractions in just a few hours. It’s a must-see during your trip to Nur-Sultan.
4. Nurzhol Bulvar
One of the city’s best-kept secrets is Nurzhol Bulvar (formerly known as Green Water Boulevard) on the left bank of the Ishim river in the heart of Astati. It’s an impressive pedestrian esplanade that stretches from the Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment center to the president’s residence.
The centerpiece is a 105-meter-high glass-and-steel tower with a spherical top that embodies a Kazakh fable in which a mythical bird Samruk lays a golden egg inside a poplar tree, beyond human reach. Lifts glide visitors up inside the egg, where they can ponder the symbolism, take in expansive views and place their hand in a print of President Nazarbayev’s palm.
Along the boulevard is the Round Square with a large light and music fountain. The best way to experience the entire area is by walking, although you may choose to hop on a tour for a small fee.
5. Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan
The Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan is one of the most exciting attractions in Nur-Sultan. This recently built museum offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the cultural history of Kazakhstan.
The National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan has a number of impressive halls where visitors can explore the conventional and contemporary cultural history of Kazakhstan. From ethnography to modern art, this museum has a wide range of items to offer its guests.
Another worth-seeing tourist attraction in the area is Atameken Ethno-Memorial Complex. Here, you can see smaller replicas of more than 200 recognizable landmarks in the country.