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Top Tourist Sites in Astana

Baiterek Baiterek
The elegant, futuristic Baiterek Tower is the symbol of Astana, the dramatic new capital of Kazakhstan. The tower holds an observation deck 97 meters (300 feet) above ground level. The number 97 symbolizes the year 1997 when the country’s capital was transferred from Almaty to Astana. From the observation deck, visitors have an unobstructed, panoramic view of the city. Baiterek means “poplar tree” in Kazakh. It already is a popular attraction, drawing Kazakh and international tourists. The monument is based on a folktale about a mythical tree of life and a magic bird of happiness called Samruk. Legend has it that Samruk laid its egg in a crevice between two branches of a poplar tree. The viewing platform features a gilded handprint of the right hand of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first president of the independent Republic of Kazakhstan. An accompanying plaque suggests that visitors place their own hand in the imprint and make a wish; when one does so, the Kazakh national anthem plays. The tower also contains a large aquarium.
Address: Left Bank
Phones: 8 (7172) 24 08 35
8 (7172) 24 16 88


Duman Center Duman Center
The Duman Center is located within a short walking distance from the hotel of the same name. It boasts an impressive aquarium which is open to the public on weekdays (except Mondays), holidays and weekends from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Visitors can spend a good part of the day at the aquarium, where they can see everything from sharks, always a favorite with the children, to exotic rare fish from the tropics. The center also has a number of shops for those who want to buy presents for friends and family back home or souvenirs. Photography is permitted, but there is a charge of 100 tenge for the use of your personal still cameras and 200 tenge for video cameras. And if you are in a rush to see your photos in
print, a photo processing facility on the premises will accept rush orders.
Address: 4 Kabanbai Batyr Avenue
Phones: 8 (7172) 24 22 22
8 (7172) 24 24 85


The Metropolitan Circus The Metropolitan Circus
At first glance a visitor to Astana may think that aliens from outer space have landed in the center of the city. But rest assured, aliens have not landed in Kazakhstan. The “Flying Saucer,” as the building is commonly called, because, well, it looks like a flying saucer, is in fact the home of the Metropolitan Circus. The building has administrative offices, holding pens and a 2,000 seat arena, where 320 performers put on a formidable show. The show program includes popular acts, such as acrobats, gymnasts, illusionists, clowns and, of course, animals.
Address: 2/1 Kurgaldzhinskoye Highway
Phones: 8 (7172) 24 43 08
8 (7172) 24 40 59


Nur-Astana Central Mosque Nur-Astana Central Mosque
The Nur-Astana Mosque, meaning “Light of Astana,” is the largest mosque in Kazakhstan and in all of Central Asia. Its measurements are not only aesthetically pleasing, they are also symbolic. The mosque is 40 meters high, the age of the Prophet Muhammad when he received the revelations, and the minarets are 63 meters high, the age of the Prophet when he died. The mosque, located on the Left Bank, was a gift from the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa. It can accommodate up to 5,000 worshippers inside and an additional 2,000 outside. The structure is made of glass, concrete, granite and other materials. Kazakhstan is a secular country, although Muslims make up about 56 percent of the population. There are more than 120 different nationalities, sects, religions and ethnicities in the country, and the government and people have worked to ensure that the different groups respect each other.
Address: Left Bank (Opposite Asia Park)
Phone: 8 (7172) 24 40 12


Khan Shatyr Khan Shatyr
The future has arrived at Khan Shatyr and it looks amazing. This is one of the most fascinating structures you are likely to see in your life. The Khan Shatyr – “The King of Tents” in Kazakh – is a shopping and entertainment center designed to accommodate the wide temperature swings of the Kazakh steppe. It looks like a giant transparent tent during the day and glows in soft neon colors at night when the lights from the interior shine through to the outside. The transparency of the material allows sunlight through in the winter, but its bubble-like design helps to keep it cool in the summer. The total interior space is huge, more than 10 football stadiums. There, visitors will find entertainment, shopping, dining and other services. Amenities include a miniature golf course, sports center and spa, shopping arcade with cobbled streets, and even an indoor beach, among many attractions. The complex, designed by British architect Norman Foster of Foster and Partners, was completed on July 5, 2010. Andrea Bocelli was invited to give a concert for the occasion. For additional information on the Khan Shatyr, check the section on “Shopping” in this magazine, or visit their website.
Address: Turan Avenue
Phones: 8 (7172) 28 60 60
8 (7172) 28 60 61
Hours: 9:00 am - 11:00 pm
Website: www.khanshatyr.com


The Palace of Peace and Harmony The Palace of Peace and Harmony
Better known as “The Pyramid,” Astana’s Palace of Peace and Harmony is another structure, like many in Astana that will draw your attention. It is modeled on Egypt’s Pyramid of Cheops on the Giza Plateau – with some differences. While stones were used in constructing Egypt’s pyramids, here, the materials used are mainly glass and metal. And Astana’s pyramid comes equipped with elevators that go up and down at an angle. Another of Lord Norman Foster’s designs in Astana, the “Pyramid” is 62 meters high and has a 62 x 62-meter base. Originally built for a meeting of religious leaders, the main purpose of the building is to promote inter-faith harmony and dialogue. The stained glass on the top third has doves etched in, which can be seen best from the inside, against the light of day. Inside, visitors will find an opera house (soon to be replaced by a separate, dedicated opera house), a national museum of culture, a library and the International Center of Cultures and Religions. The Pyramid of Peace expresses the spirit of Kazakhstan, where cultures, religious traditions and ethnicities coexist in harmony.
Address: 57 Tauelsizdyk Street
Phone: 8 (7172) 74 47 44
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm


  Museum of the Presidential Center of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Conveniently located at the edge of the Right Bank, and easily accessible from the Left Bank, is the Presidential Center of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The museum boasts 143,000 artifacts related to archeology, ethnography, history, culture and arts. The collection, “Ethnography of the Kazakhs,” captures the traditional lifestyles of the Kazakh people and gives visitors a closer understanding of Kazakhstan’s past and present. History comes alive in displays such as a Kazakh yurt, furniture, tableware, clothing, jewelry and many more items. The most striking and valuable exhibit is a bride’s headpiece, saukele, made in the beginning of the 19th century. One of the most interesting collections is of 135 musical instruments on loan from B.A. Sarybaev. The museum also has a library with a collection of more than 700,000 items stored in various media, and a collection of rare books dating from the 17th to the 20th century.
Address: 2 Respublika Avenue
Phone: 8 (7172) 22 33 19
Fax: 8 (7172) 22 32 90
Website: www.pmo.kz


  Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
This museum is located in the president’s former residence and offers a unique insight into the birth of a nation and its progress through time. The exhibits reveal the most important stages in the formation of an independent Kazakhstan and talks about the life and work of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The interiors are intact and the museum collection of over 60,000 items includes souvenirs, books, archival manuscripts, printed materials, film and documentary photographs, works of fine and decorative arts, weapons, personal belongings and documents offered by the president.
Address: 11 Beibitshilik Street
Phones: 8 (7172) 75 12 14/76/92/96
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Closed Mondays)
Tours at 10:30, 12:00, 2:30, 4:00 (Kazakh, Russian and English languages)
Website: www.prezidentsmuseum.kz


  Museum of Modern Art
Astana is still a young city and so are its museums. But the city is making the effort to give visitors something to remember. Originally named the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Modern Art was established in 1980. It started with a collection of 500 works of art, which has grown over the last 30 years to 3,000 pieces. The museum holds an annual exhibit with works by prominent local and international artists. It makes regular purchases to expand its collection. Currently, the collection includes works by artists from Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Tajikistan and other CIS countries.
Address: 3 Respublika Avenue
Phone: 8 (7172) 21 54 33
Fax: 8 (7172) 21 54 32
Website: www.msi-astana.kz
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