Photograph by Gerd Ludwig, National Geographic
This Month in Photo of the Day: National Geographic Magazine Features
Kazakhstan‘s new capital is the opposite of understated. After dark, government buildings change hues as the night progresses, creating a theme park atmosphere.
Astana (Kazakh: Астана / Astana / أستانا), formerly known as Akmola (Kazakh: Ақмола / Aqmola, until 1998), Tselinograd (Russian: Целиноград, until 1992) and Akmolinsk (Russian: Акмолинск, until 1961), is the capital and second largest city (after Almaty) of Kazakhstan, with an officially estimated population of 708,794 as of 1 August 2010. It is located in the north-central portion of Kazakhstan, within Akmola Province, though administrated separately from the province as a federal city area.
Astana can be divided largely into a few different areas. North of the railway line, which crosses Astana in an east-west direction, are industrial and poorer residential areas. Between the railway line and the river Ishim is the city center, where at present intense building activity is occurring. To the west and east are more elevated residential areas with parks and the new area of government administration to the south of the Ishim. Here many large building projects are underway; for example, the construction of a diplomat quarter, and a variety of different government buildings. By 2030, these quarters are to be completed. The original plans for the new Astana were drawn up by the late Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. Astana’s current chief planner, Vladimir Laptev, wants to build a Berlin in a Eurasian style. He has stated that a purely administrative capital such as Canberra is not one of his goals.
The old buildings that remained from the Soviet era are now being removed and replaced with totally new structures resulting in significant construction work throughout the city. President Nazarbayev has paid particular attention to Astana’s architecture; most of the recently completed structures had been accredited to internationally acclaimed architects and designers such as Kisho Kurokawa or Norman Foster.
some more beautiful images of Almaty and Astana