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An Architectural Playground; Astana, Kazakhstan

Astana, Kazakhstan

Like a mirage of  modern architecture, Astana stands proud against the horizon.

Not limiting itself to one showpiece, the center of a nation has chosen to accept buildings of all shapes and sizes. And what’s more, each of these unique buildings serve a particular purpose, making use of their uncommon dimensions.

Make a trip to Astana to explore what happens when cities go wild.

Astana, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s capital city is also its second largest. Located in the northern region of the massive Central Asian nation, Astana is the perfect representation of a modern metropolis. Though the city doesn’t have much in the way of historic sites, visitors won’t have trouble deciding what to do.

While hoofing it around town may be a little excessive,  once you get to specific sites there will be plenty of opportunities to wander. And where the interior of buildings hold all sorts of entertaining attractions, the unique architecture is best witnessed from afar.

Spend a day or two in Astana exploring some of the world’s most modern and intriguing structures.

Khan Shatyr

As a monstrous tent situated at the southern end of the city, Khan Shatyr takes the old shopping center concept and blows it up beyond the point of recognition. The 490 foot (150m) high structure is as visibly stunning as it is entertaining.

As a perfect spot to hide out in inclement weather, Khan Shatyr can provide a full day of entertainment. For the thrill-seeker, consider riding the flume or plummeting 125 feet (38m) on the drop tower. If it’s a shopping experience that you crave, buy goods from the countless classy chain stores. And if you’re looking to get wet, take a dip in the mall’s beach area.

Credit: upyernoz Credit: upyernoz

Bayterek Tower

For a chance to check out the city from above, stay on the south end and ride up to the top of the Bayterek Tower. Standing at a height of 318 feet (97m), the monument is open to both observation and a tasty meal.

As much as the tower’s observation decks provide views of scenic landscapes, the building is best viewed from the exterior. Referred to by locals as “Chupa-Chups”, the structure is reminiscent of the well-known lollipop.

Credit: thedakotakid Credit: thedakotakid

Palace of Peace and Reconciliation

Serving as a center for religious acceptance and education, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation is located a couple miles east of the Bayterek Tower. The pyramid-shaped structure stands at a height of 203 feet (62m), with a base of 203 feet by 203 feet.

At the palace’s center is a 1,500 seat auditorium, built with excellent acoustics in mind. Visit the pyramid at night to see the building completely light up and standing against a stark, structure-less sky.

Credit: Ken and Nyetta Credit: Ken and Nyetta

When To Go

Consider visiting Astana during the summer, when the weather is reasonable. Expect temperatures to be above freezing between April and October.

Climate

Temperatures will climb up towards 79°F (26°C) between June and August, while December through February will bottom out at a less-than-comfortable -4°F (-20°C). Year-round precipitation will be minimal.

Getting There & Around

After flying into the Astana International Airport from any number of European and Asian origins, grab a bus towards the city center.

Getting around town can be done with ease on the city’s safe and comfortable buses.

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $150-200
  • Meal: $5-10
  • Beer: $1.50

Do’s

  • Explore the many architecturally-astounding buildings not included in this limited article.
  • Check out a movie in the Khan Shatyr’s 6-screen cinema.
  • Experience the sauna and water slides while in the mall’s beach area.

Don’ts

  • Just wander aimlessly. Take a guided tour of the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation.
  • Stop the fun when the sun goes down. Hit up one of the city’s discos.
  • Leave the Bayterek Tower without swinging by the aquarium.

Fun Facts

  • The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation was built at a cost of $58 million.
  • The Bayterek tower’s shape is meant to symbolize the Tree of Life.
  • The temperature in Khan Shatyr’s Aqua Park is kept at 95°F (35°C) year-round.

Feature Image Credit: upyernoz

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