Must see attractions in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan

    This huge blue-glass-and-white-marble museum covers the history and culture of Kazakhstan from ancient to modern times. Themed halls comprise interactive displays and artifact exhibits, ranging from a yurt in the Hall of Ethnography to a chronicle of the capital's modern history in the Hall of Astana. Don't miss the Golden Hall, which houses several thousand Bronze Age ornaments from the famed 'Golden Man' (a national symbol of Kazakhstan) – a 3rd- or 4th-century warrior whose gold-clad remains were uncovered in 1969.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Khan Shatyr

    Nur-Sultan's most extraordinary building (so far), the Khan Shatyr is a 150m-high, translucent, tentlike structure made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a heat-absorbing material that produces summer temperatures inside even when it’s -30°C outside. Touted as a 'lifestyle centre with world-class shopping', from outside it resembles nothing so much as a drunkenly leaning circus tent, while the multilevel interior contains a high-end shopping mall, food court, and various attractions.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Palace of Peace & Reconciliation

    This beautiful glass-and-steel pyramid was opened in 2006 as the home for the triennial Congress of World and Traditional Religions, hosted by Kazakhstan. The 30-minute tour (English-speaking guides available) shows you a 1350-seat opera hall, the 3rd-floor atrium where the congress was held, and the apex conference room with windows filled with stained-glass doves (by British artist Brian Clarke). Full of symmetry and symbolism, the pyramid is beautifully illuminated and a highlight of the city.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Bayterek Monument

    Nurzhol bulvar's centrepiece is this 97m-high monument, a white latticed tower crowned by a large glass orb. This embodies a Kazakh legend in which the mythical bird Samruk lays a golden egg containing the secrets of human desires and happiness in a tall poplar tree, beyond human reach. Lifts glide visitors up inside the egg, where you can ponder the symbolism, enjoy expansive views and place your hand in a print of President Nazarbayev’s palm while gazing towards his palace.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Ploshchad Poyushchykh Fontanov

    The eastern half of Nurzhol bulvar starts with this plaza, which springs to life with music-and-water shows at 9pm on summer evenings. Further east stand twin golden-green, conical business centres: the southern one contains the headquarters of Samryk-Kazyna, Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund. Curving away left and right from these towers are the two wings of the House of Ministries, flanked by the Senate and Mazhilis, the towers of parliament. Straight ahead stands the white-pillared presidential palace, the Ak Orda.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

    Inside the former presidential palace, a succession of lavish galleries display gifts to President Nazarbayev from foreign governments and grateful citizens. See if you can spot a walrus carving (Canada), ram horn dagger (Tajikistan), silver wine set (Uzbekistan) and an elaborate bone carving (China). Peek into the old presidential office, check out poignant linocuts of Atameken (fatherland) and the hall of Olympic achievements, and view the Nuclear Security Council displays. English-language booklets are available. Enter from Abay dangyly.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Museum of the Armed Forces

    The yurt-shaped museum showcases beautifully presented exhibitions on weaponry and warfare, with striking murals greeting visitors. On the ground floor, chainmail armour, powder flasks and swords surround the atrium with its heroic statues of Kazakh notables (including President Nazarbayev). The Hall of Ancestry is an intriguing look at weapons through the ages, including detailed diagrams on the construction of medeival bows and the cavalry tactics of Turkic, Mongol and Kazakh armies. Mines and machine guns on the 3rd floor are skippable.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Soviet Grain Silo

    This rare relic of the 1950s may be gone in a few years' time, banished by the relentless wrecking ball, but for now you can see this enormous, decaying grain silo, inscribed with 'The Virgin Lands have been raised. The heroic deed continues.' It's a remnant of Nikita Khrushchev's ill-advised plans to make Tselinograd the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, in spite of the unsuitability of the local soil for intensive cultivation.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    City Park

    The large, somewhat-untidy city park abuts the south side of the Ishim river. On its southern edge you'll find the Atameken, a 200m-long, walk-around country map with models of major buildings, and Duman, an amusement centre most worth visiting for its oceanarium, which has over 2000 creatures from the world’s oceans and a 70m shark tunnel.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Kazak Yeli Monument

    The 91m-high tall Kazak Yeli monument, topped by a golden eagle, is intended to symbolise the historic destiny of Kazakhstan's people. The figures at the base are from the country's past and present: heroic batyrs (clan leaders) from the Golden Horde, a dombra -playing musician, a contemporary couple with a child, and a 5m bronze relief of President Nazarbayev.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Palace of Independence

    The rather squat Palace of Independence is well worth a visit especially for its huge scale model of how Nur-Sultan is planned to look in 2030. It also holds an interesting ethnographic hall which stages temporary exhibitions, such as one featuring the psychedelic art of Bakhtybek Talkambayev. English-language tours are available if you call in advance.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur Astana Mosque

    A block south of the western part of Nurzhol bulvar stands the beautiful four-minaret Nur Astana mosque, opened in 2005. Its prayer hall (for men only – women use the upper gallery) is an exquisite multidomed space with inscriptions and geometrical patterning in blue, white, gold and red.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Duman

    Duman is a modern leisure centre most worth visiting for its oceanarium, which has over 3000 creatures from the world’s oceans and a 70m shark tunnel. There's also the Exotarium, where visitors come face to face with exotic reptiles, and the Jungle, full of dinosaur models.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Hazrat Sultan Mosque

    This huge mosque, opened in 2012, boasts Kazakhstan's largest dome, as well as beautifully marbled interiors. Look out for a splendid old copy of the Quran.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Ak Orda

    Grandiose building that houses the offices of the president of Kazakhstan. You can only admire it from the outside.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Northern Lights

    These three undulating, light-green apartment towers are a prominent feature of the western part of the boulevard.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Emerald Towers

    Striking office blocks whose tops splay outward like the pages of opening books.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Transport & Communications Ministry

    The tall, gleaming, copper Transport & Communications Ministry, has been dubbed the ‘Lighter’ by irreverent locals. Ironically, there was a fire inside the building soon after its completion.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    KazMunayGaz

    East of Khan Shatyr, across a park, stand the grand headquarters of the state energy company, KazMunayGaz.

  • Sights in Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Atameken

    The Atameken – a 200m-long, walk-around country map with models of major buildings – is quite fun.