If you visited this spot on the globe 20 years ago, you would not recognize this futuristic city, nor would you have even been in Astana. In fact 700,000 of the million people surrounding you would have not even existed. In 1997 this place was designated the new capital of the relatively new country of Kazakhstan and is 1998 it was renamed to Astana which literally translates to ‘Capital’ in the Kazak language. Because of its very recent origins and being in a relatively unknown country, it is not too surprising that most people have never heard about this capital. However, after walking around it for a few days you have to wonder how it isn’t a globally recognized city setting the example for future architecture and infrastructure!
The design and architecture of the buildings appear to be 50 years in the future. The bright gold, bronze, and blue glass bring the city to a colorful life as the sunset dances in their reflection. Every building seems to be one of a kind with no match anywhere else in the world. Each unique design creates an awe inspiring reaction as your eyes scan the urban horizon. Beautifully crafted gardens fill the walkways that line the perfectly symmetrical city plan. One end sits the presidential palace and 3 km to the other end sits the iconic Hans Shatir shopping center that resembles a needle poking through a balloon. In the middle sits the Bayterek tower that offers an observation point of the beautiful city below.
But why is it in the middle of nowhere and why did it suddenly become the most modern looking city in the world. Far away from the Chinese and Russian borders, the capital is a safe place to house the business and administration of the oil and mineral rich nation from its greedy, populous nations. Also, in a country of only 17 million people, but with the natural resources of the worlds 9th largest country, there is a lot of extra money. What we see is the flaunting of an excess of resource money. Some of the worlds most acclaimed designers and architects such as Norman Foster from England and Manfredi Nicoletti from Italy have designed the iconic buildings of the city ahead of its time. Before it became the capital, the small town only occupied small farms and mills that produced the countries bread, but now it is home to almost 1 million people who are leading the world in energy, construction, and finances. Astana is preparing to host the worlds 2017 EXPO that will focus on the future of energy production and management and how it can propel our future. The city is still new and now it seems like a bit of a futuristic ghost town as the city is yet to be occupied. The Kazak government will even pay natives to live in this city to increase its population and help it grow its potential. Right now it is cheap and easy to travel around this city and feel like you own the city. In years to come it very well may likely be a futuristic hub of business and commerce.