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2:00. Black Mamba made me cry.
Astana (Астана), Kazakhstan’s Capital City
Along the Ishim River in the center of a vast steppe lies Kazakhstan’s capital city, Astana (Астана). Though a functional city since 1830, Astana only became the nation’s capital in 1997. The past 16 years have brought significant architectural developments, many of which display innovative designs to functionally cope with the city’s drastic temperature fluctuations and symbolically reflect traditional Kazakh culture. And where there’s been architectural innovation, there have been numerous Kazakh Instagrammers to share these wonders with the world.
The city’s main landmark, a 105-meter (344-foot) tall observation tower called Bayterek (Бәйтерек), evokes a Kazakh folktale about a bird that laid a golden egg in the tree of life. Astana also boasts a large pyramid structure, The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation (Бейбітшілік пен келісім сарайы), built to house space for diverse world religions, a full opera house and a natural history museum beneath the stained-glass doves that adorn its glass apex.
One of the city’s newest additions is the Khan Shatyr entertainment center, a series of parks, shops and sites of diversion spanning 140,000 square meters (35 acres) that is covered by the world’s largest tent. The transparent material allows sunlight in while simultaneously maintaining a stable temperature throughout the year.