Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana, Aqmola and Tselinograd), in the north of Kazakhstan, is the capital and the second largest city of the country.
The city took over the role as capital from Almaty (the largest city) in December 1998. "Astana" means "capital city" in the Kazakh language. Its name was changed to Nur-Sultan in 2019 after Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first president of Kazakhstan, who had just stepped down from office. Now it's undergoing a transformation costing billions of dollars, with top international architects assisting in trying to make Astana a worthy capital - not only of Kazakhstan but of Central Asia. Astana presents an interesting and intriguing blend of old Soviet architecture with the modern designs of Norman Foster and the like. Nur-Sultan is growing. It still does not offer the comforts and thrills of its Western counterparts, or of Almaty, but has its own charms and pleasures.
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