Nur Sultan - A city without the people

After my crazy 3-night long train ride through Russia, I finally crossed the border to arrive at the city of Nur Sultan, not so long ago known as Astana the capital of Kazakhstan. Before starting this journey I did not know much about Kazakhstan but it has turned out to be a most interesting place. Kazakhstan is almost as big as the whole of Europe and has an enormous amount of natural resources, therefore, making it a very wealthy country. Temperatures range from -40 during winter to +40 in the summertime. This extreme temperature change makes life in Astana pretty harsh.

It was only in 1997 that Nur Sultan became the capital of Kazakhstan. At that point, it was changed from Akmola to Astana which literally translates to Capital. But a few weeks ago the name of the city was changed AGAIN in "honor" of the departure of the first and until now, the only president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. Not everyone agrees with the name-change though, the Kazakh people I spoke to told me that it was obviously not something that they had any say in.

Now before Nur Sultan was the capital it was quite a small place in the middle of the steppe. But when it became the capital it had to become the showpiece of the power and wealth of Kazakhstan. And so it became the grand and prestigious city it is now with beautiful, futuristic buildings and big roads, yet without the people to make it feel alive.

Nur Sultan is filled with Amazing architecture, giant shopping malls, and museums but when you walk a little bit further the city literally just stops and there is only grassland so far as the eye can see. When I entered these shopping malls and musea everything was mostly deserted and I would be one of the few visitors. It looked like a closed theme park without the rollercoasters. It did make it very peaceful and quiet with a sprinkle of creepy :P. Check out some pictures below to get a glimpse of this interesting city. My next stop will be Almaty the old capital near the border of China.




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© Boudewijn Buitenhek  2020