Astana

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Astana , in the north of Kazakhstan, is the second largest city in the country. It took over the role of capital city from Almaty (the largest city) in December 1998. Now, it is undergoing a transformation costing billions of dollars, where top international architects assist in trying to make Astana a worthy capital - not only of Kazakhstan but of all Central Asia. Thus, Astana presents an interesting and intriguing blend of old Soviet architecture with the modern designs of Norman Foster and the likes. Astana is growing, but still does not offer the comforts and thrills of its Western counterparts, or Almaty, but has its own charms and pleasures. (less...) (more...)

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Cities

  • Metropolis over 100 hotels
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  • Small city 5-20 hotels
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Points of Interest

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  • Casino Casino
  • Civic property Civic property
  • Education Education
  • Entertainment Entertainment
  • Golf course Golf course
  • Green space Green space
  • Harbor Harbor
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  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
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  • Sports facility Sports facility
  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

Points of Interest in Astana

  • Baiterek Tower is one example of the futuristic architecture in the newborn city. Nicknamed "Chupa Chups" by the locals due to its similarity to a giant lollipop, this 97 meter high building offers a great view of the city as well as an art gallery, an aquarium and a restaurant. In the center of the top sphere, the ever so humble President Nazarbayev has made a golden palm print where visitors may put their own hands. Be warned at busier times the queue for the palm can be very long. 500T for Adults, 150T for 5-15 (with documentation), under 5s are free
  • Khan Shatyry. Is a giant transparent tent big enough to hold 10,000 people. The 150m-high tent has a 200m elliptical base covering an area larger than 10 football stadiums, and contains a park, a shopping and entertainment area with squares and cobbled streets, a boating river, minigolf and an indoor beach resort. It even contains its own monorail with several stops. While Astana is one of the world's coldest capitals with temperatures down to -40°C in the cold season, the transparent material lets sunshine in and helps to keep temperatures comfortable all year.
  • The President's Museum of Kazakhstan, Barayev 3, is built like a yurt with a dome resembling a mosque. It contains exhibitions about the history of the country. The main attraction is a replica of the Golden Man costume, a warrior's suit that was found in a tomb east of Almaty. It contains more than 4000 gold pieces, and the original was considered too fragile to be put on display (it is now kept safe in the national bank).
  • Atameken Map of Kazakhstan is an outdoor museum giving you an overview of the entire country in a miniature version. This 1.7-hectare exhibit features more than 200 mock-up pieces, creating Kazakh cities and historical memorials. During the summer months at least, there are normally English speaking guides available (optional obviously), should you wish to learn a little about the models, and there is a covered section which focuses on the newer constructions within the city of Astana itself. Taking photos sometimes requires an extra payment to be made - you may want to keep cameras in your bag until you pass out of sight of the front ticket office. There is a covered map of Astana on a platform overlooking the rest of the map, be sure to visit the exhibition underneath this, which offers dioramas of Kazakhstani industry, sport and culture.
  • Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. The pyramid portion of the building is 62m high and sits on a 15m high earth-covered block. All of this construction is above ground level. The building holds a summit of all religions of the world every 2–3 years. Though the landscaping of the park rises up to cover the lower levels, these are not in fact basements. This building offers a great view of the city as well as two art galleries, an archeological and ethnographic museum, opera hall, and a cafe.
  • Duman. An entertainment complex consisting of an oceanarium, 3D theatre, dome area, souvenir shops and cafes. The aquarium is unique for being located over 3,000 km away from the ocean! It has more than 2000 sea inhabitants, the representatives of 100 species of sea fauna from different parts of the world. You can also see "Mermaid" and sharks-feeding shows at the aquarium. In the Motion Theatre you can make an underwater trip under the command of captain Mac-Cloud during the World War II, to overcome the traps while rescuing the gorgeous princess, confined in the dungeon, go on a tour to the past to dinosaur age, escorted by a troll and etc.

The dome area contains symbols from all over the world like the Statue of Liberty, the fragment of the great Chinese wall, the "Doriphor" statue, Parthenon and others.

  • Kazakh Eli monument. Kazakh Eli (literally, "Land of Kazakhs") is situated next to Pyramid (Palace of Peace) and has a small statue of the first president of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is about 100 metres tall and has a mythical golden bird Samryk on the top. Monument is made from white marble and surrounded by very beautiful fountains.
  • Shabyt Palace. Shabyt is a palace of arts situated to the right of Kazakh Eli monument. It is a dish like building made from glass.
  • Palace of Independence. Palace of Independence is situated to the left of Kazakh Eli monument.

Most of political and business gatherings are held in this palace. Summit of OSCE (Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe) will take place on 1–2 December 2010 in this building inviting about 56 countries is called to be one of the largest gatherings of heads of the states (bigger than Washington Nuclear Summit). Summits concerning ecology in Asia was held in October 2010 and European ecology summit for the first time will take place outside of Europe in 2011.

  • Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. This is situated north of the river on the junction of Abai Street and Bebeishelik Street. This magnificent building was the seat of power before the new presidential palace was built. There is an entrance on Abai Street where you will have your baggage searched and you will be scanned for metal. Once inside be sure to ask the people at the front door for an English guide book. Pictures are allowed on the ground floor (1st in Kazakh speak) and outside, but no where else. Most people will have to don covers for their shoes and all luggage must be stored in lockers. Entry is free. The building consists of displays outlining the struggle for independence, gifts and awards given to Nazarbayev including a machine gun from the Saudis, and state rooms preserved as they were when Nazarbayev was there. On the top floor there is a comprehensive photo display of Yeltsin, someone that Nazarbayev seems to have a lot of sympathy towards. Be sure to see the full sized recreation of the golden man. The museum is often on the empty side and don't be surprised to find yourself trailed by anxious (maybe bored) gallery staff. There isn't much for the kids here, it is more suited to those interested in the art of state diplomacy and the history of Nazarbayev. There is a small gift shop on the ground floor with the normal tourist paraphernalia.

Bayterek Tower

Korme Exhibition Complex

Kazhimukan Munaitpasov Stadium

Palace of Peace and Reconciliation

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Popular events in Astana in the near future

Date: Category: The event list provided by Eventful
The event list provided by Eventful

About Astana

Activities

'REVision Park' Cinema in English: Every Tuesday at 8pm, 24 Turan St. Sary Arka Shopping Mall (3d Floor). [2], Revision Park is a new project of Language Leader [3] and KinoPark Multiplex cinemas [4].

  • Ak Bulak sauna Complex, 8th kilometer on the Astana-Airport highway (Olympic stadiums),  +7 (7172) 49-76-98 (reception), +7-705-140-7221 (cell). 24 hours. A Sauna Complex with 3 private VIP double floor saunas (for a party of 6, 9 and 12 people). Each sauna is decorated in a different geographic style and has its own swimming pool, Finnish and Russian steam rooms (banya), jacuzzi, hamam, entertainment hall with a banquet table, billiard, karaoke, TV with cable channels and 2 private relax rooms. The Complex has its own parking lot and conveniently located on the main Astana-Airport highway (not far from Olympic stadiums). Ak Bulak sauna Complex is an excellent way to enjoy cold and windy Astana and feel the bathing tradition of Kazakhs. Food and beverages are provided at the Complex. Different types of massage can be ordered at the reception. from $20/hr to $60/hr.

Food

Beshbarmak - a horse meat and pasta dish. Most restaurants that serve it will present a portion enough for two or three people. Boursaky - bread best served piping hot. A little like an unsweetened doughnut. Shashliq - unless you have a sturdy stomach, best to avoid unknown street vendors, but these kebabs are often cheap, and a good 'safe bet' if you recognise little else on the menu.

Along Turan street (formerly Sara Arka), there is a row of restaurants that while a bit expensive are quite good. They also have private rooms for parties, saunas, and even hotel rooms.

  • Cafe Shimket, Immanova, near Republic Street (in Kazyna Mall, next to Cinema City). If you want a greasy spoon style meal, with cheap prices, and a mixture of makes in the car park, rather than 4x4s, Hummers and Mercedes, head over here. cheaper.
  • Melnitsa (Windmill), Turan Street (near Khan Shatyr). Possibly the only Ukrainian restaurant in Astana with one of the best outdoor dining areas in the city. Lots of traditional Ukrainian dishes like potato pancakes and of course Chicken Kiev. Live music in the evenings. Fresh bread oven. Great decor, like a farmer's hut. 1500-3000T for a main dish..
  • Tre Kronor (Three Crowns), Turan Street (near Mega Mall). Consistent with its name, the restaurant strives for a more European fare. It features excellent steaks and decent sausages. Nice Brew Pub atmosphere though it is a proper restaurant. Most evenings there's a live band which plays a mix of reggae, classic rock and Russian rock. Nice outdoor cafe in the summer. 1500-3000T for a main dish..
  • Satti, Kabanbai batyr street, 32,  +7 (7172) 24 28 48.
  • Line Brew. Popular with expats and locals alike, Line Brew features its own brew of beer, with an impressive menu that includes several delicious steaks, including one made of horse meat.
  • 1000 and 1 nights cafe, Bayan Sulu hotel,  +7-7172-366-222. The main destination for authentic Turkish and Arabic cuisine in Astana. Operated by Turkish management. Located at Bayan Sulu Hotel, which is located not far from Eurasia shopping center.
  • Ali Babas, 3 Bukeikhan st. Astana 010000, Kazakhstan. 8 172321899 (North of the river). Summer only. A very popular summer restaurant. The waitresses and waiters dress in traditional dress and the menu offers a selection of central asian cuisine. Prices are in line with Europe or America but the food is good. There are fake bird cages hanging from the roof which tweet electronically. Camel and horse milk are on offer along side Leffe beer ~3000T.
  • Rafe, Bukeikhan Street Astana, Kazakhstan (Almost opposite Ali Babas). A modern coffee bar offering Italian food with a twist. Be sure to check out the horse pizza ~3000T.

Drinks

  • Kumis - different varieties are available of this mare's milk, some are a little salty. Slightly fermented.
  • Vodka - supermarkets stock a huge variety, ranging from $2 bottles that will strip your throat to $115 bottles that are more for giving as a present or showing off your wealth. Shots tend to be drunk, rather than utilising mixers - don't feel obliged to down each and every one if at a celebration.
  • Cognac - what we would refer to as brandy, again a wide range in the shops and restaurants. Same rules apply regarding shots - with all the toasts made at parties and other gatherings, you may want to pace yourself.

There are more than 10 discos (night clubs) that are frequently referenced by locals: Chocolate [5], A8, Fusion, Ice, etc. Chocolate is in the same building as the SAS Radisson hotel, but may only be open on selected days (weekends). "Ice" (centrally located - ask locals for the address) has a nice atmosphere and is on two floors with a large dance area. Prices are towards the high end, no entrance fee on Thursday night.

Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

Talisman on Republic Avenue is a great little souvenir shop with T-shirts, felt products, leather paintings, traditional musical instruments, desk sets and jewellery and stuffed leopards. A bit expensive and the staff watch you very carefully to make sure you don't shoplift, but there is a good variety of goods.

TSUM also has a nice little souvenir shop in the second floor with traditional Kazakh souvenirs.

General Shopping

TSUM The central shopping mall on Kenesary Street, across from Congress Hall has some shops for clothes, perfumes, a camera shop, cafe and a small supermarket.

New Western-style shopping malls have sprung up with all the variety of shopping you would expect from a mall in the West including:

Keruen on the Left Bank near Bayterek. Supermarket, Cinema, Babylon (video-arcade/indoor rides for children). Food court.

Mega on Turan Street. Cinema. Ramstor supermarket. Climbing wall. Food court.

Sara Arkai on Turan Street. Cinema. Supermarket.

Ramstor is another chain of supermarkets that is popular among Westerners in Astana. They sell lots of things you can't find elsewhere such as macaroni and cheese, microwave popcorn, Worcestershire Sauce, barbeque sauces, tortilla chips, salsa and so on.

Asia Park. Next to Central Mosque of Astana. Has a nice skybar with a pretty good view. Includes an Alma supermarket with good bakery, dairy, tinned food and frozen food. Fruit and vegetables don't look so good (in late 2011). Some basic homeware is also on sale. There is a Finn Mark shop for winter clothes. There is also a Fitness First gym.

Artem. This is half way between a bazaar (as some people call it) and an old fashioned shopping mall. The ground floor is open and feels like a market - it has lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and dried fruit and nuts, all for sale in market stalls; plus mobile phone shops at one end. There are also areas that sell meat and fish. The many upper floors contain mostly clothes shops - a bit more reasonably priced than MEGA, Khan Shatyr etc., plus toiletries, furniture, and more.

Alem

Shanghai. These are big supermarkets that are more like bazaar mostly for the groceries but they also have clothes.

Eurasia. One of the first shopping centres in Astana. Has everything for a little bit lower prices.

With China relatively close, you can find many electronic gadgets in the shops, just remember that returns policies are not as customer-friendly as in the West. Also some of the latest gadgets such as iPhones and iPods are more expensive here than in Western countries.

Khan Shatyr. Contains a Greens supermarket - well laid out (the aisles aren't straight, so it doesn't have that factory-like feel of typical supermarkets). Prices are reasonable considering it's in the Khan Shatyr. There is also a Debenhams in Khan Shatyr.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Astana on Wikivoyage.

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