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ASTANA – THE CAPITAL OF KAZAKHSTAN
Akmola steppes have always been the territory of interethnic communication of various nations and cultures. In the middle of the first millennium BC the Grand Silk Route ran through these steppes. Numerous caravan routes gave birth to cities with prosperous trade and handicrafts. In the XIX–th century Akmola was a substantial commercial and economic centre in the steppe. The history of Akmolinsk starts from the year of 1830, when the fortress with this name was established in the area of Karautkel by the Russian Empire. By the end of the XIX-th century it had become a district with the population of about 10,000. There were 3 churches, 5 schools and colleges and 3 factories.
Later Akmolinsk was developed as a large railway junction. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) a lot of industrial enterprises were evacuated there. They marked the beginning of the industrial stage in the development of the city.
The development of virgin and disused lands which started in 1959 influenced greatly on the formation of the city. Akmolinsk turned out to be a geographical centre of the vast virgin territory and became its administrative centre. The number of citizens increased significantly. Thousands of volunteers came to build the city and live there. In 1961 Akmolinsk changed its name to Tselinograd and grew into a modern city. Within ten years there appeared a bridge connecting the city with the park zone, a TV-centre, new institutes, schools, museums, two wonderful palaces, some fashionable hotels, different institutions. The region became a great agricultural centre with well-developed agricultural machine-building, meat-and-milk cattle-breeding and poultry farming.
In 1992 the city was returned its former name – Akmola. But in 1998 with the transfer of the capital from Alma-Aty to Akmola, the city got a new symbolic name – Astana. This decision was promoted by economic, ecological and geographical expediency.
Astana is all in scaffolds. Construction goes on all round the city. Astana is the city of great construction projects. In 1999 it was awarded the prize “Cities – for peace” by the international organization UNESCO. It is the admission of the unique experience in developing the new capital of Kazakhstan.
There appeared a number of interesting monuments and sightseeings in Astana. The symbol of the capital and the country, of the nation, peace and life is the monument Astana – Bayterek. Bayterek is the name of a fairy-tale tree. Once a year the bird Samruk laid a gold egg in its branches. A stylized tree with a dome-egg is a wonderful tower. It is in the very centre of the left-bank part of the capital where a new administrative and business centre is being constructed. There is a memorial devoted to the victims of political repressions. Another monument is devoted to the defenders of the Motherland. The monument “Nayza” symbolizes the unification of the three Kazakh zhuses.
Some old historical buildings were reconstructed. In two fine wooden houses built at the beginning of the XX-th century the museum of Saken Seyfullin is housed. In front of the museum there is a monument to the founder of the Kazakh literature. The palace “Tselinnik” was reconstructed and now it is called “Congress Hall”. The Palace of Youth opened in 1963 is called “Zhastar” now.
Nowadays Astana is becoming the international, business and cultural centre of not only Kazakhstan, but of the Eurasian continent as a whole.
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