Bayterek - Astana Tower
1997 was a lucky year for Astana. December the 10th of that year it became the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Then it was called Akmola, the name that the city had got with the collapse of the USSR.
The city carried the name until May the 6th 1998. That's when Akmola got a new name of Astana. June 10, 1998 it was internationally presented as the new capital of the new Kazakhstan.
And now within a very short time it has got a very new face lift. From an ordinary soviet looking city it is turning into a modern XXI century city.
Baiterek Tower in Astana
What was the capital of Kazakhstan before Astana, i.e. before 1997?
Alma-Ata became the capital of Kazakhstan after the construction of the Turksib railway that connected Central Asia with Siberia. It was the capital of Kazakhstan for 68 years from 1929-1997 throughout Kazakhstan's soviet and a bit of its new history during independence.
Then called Alma-Ata had started as the capital of the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Kazakh ASSR). In 1936 it became the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (Kazakh SSR). Since the end of the Soviet era the name of the city changed to Almaty and it stayed as the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan until December 1997.
Although it had lost its status as the capital more than 10 years ago now, it still is a major financial and cultural centre. It is situated in the south-east of the country, only about 300 km away from Kyrgyzstan and Chinese borders.
View over Almaty (former Kazakhstan capital) from Kok-Tobe
What was the Kazakhstan capital before Almaty
1925 was a very important year in Kazakhstan history. It is the year when Kyrgyz ASSR (Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, present-day Kazakhstan) was renamed Kazakh ASSR (Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic).
The city of Akmechet was renamed Qyzylorda (Kyzyl Orda) and chosen as the capital of the new Kazakh ASSR. It is sitituated on the route of Syr Daria River, the river that starts in Tyan Shan Mountains and flows into the Aral Sea.
View The Kazakhstan Capitals in a larger map
The first Kazakhstan Capital
In 1920 Orenburg became the capital of the Kyrgyz ASSR (Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, present-day Kazakhstan) within Russia. When that Kyrgyz ASSR was renamed Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925, Orenburg joined Russia. That's when Kyzyl-Orda became the new capital.
This year the capital city of the independent Kazakhstan, Astana, turns 16. Large-scale celebrations will traditionally be held in Astana these days with dozens of various concerts, festivals, competitions and shows.
The varied celebrations program includes over 70 cultural events, so that every resident and visitor to the city can find what he or she will like.
One of the most significant events for high art lovers will be the tour of the famous Italian theatre La Scala. For the first time in Kazakhstan the legendary Italian theatre performs on the stage of the countryТs main theatre, "Astana Opera", presenting Ludwig MinkusТs Don Quixote staged by Rudolf Nureyev.
Another event for theatre-goers, International Theatre Festival "Sakhnadan salem!" (УGreetings from the StageФ), began on July 1. Within the festival every day performance groups from Turkey, Russia and Kazakhstan will give performances in all theatres of the city. In addition, theatres of Astana will present their premieres.
The seventh annual International Circus Festival "Echo of Asia" will take place on July 1-8 at the Astana circus with the support of the Astana city administration. Visitors will see performances by circus artists from Russia, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Belarus, Yakutia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and, of course, Kazakhstan. Most of them are winners and laureates of world festivals, descendants of circus dynasties.
Turkic music festival "Astana Arkau", which will be held on July 4-6, will present brilliant instrumentalists and singers from different countries and regions, such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Mongolia, Altai, Sakha, Tyva, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Khakassia, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region and Dagestan.
Another interesting festival which will also be held these days is the festival of nomadic civilization "Millennia around Astana". The festival will be held for the seventh time and this year will include such events as holographic show of national rituals, concert of traditional music, aytys, folk crafts fair, performances of a travelling circus, parade of Kazakh folk instruments, as well as various sports and ethno shows, workshops and exhibitions.
On the holiday itself events united by a common concept of "The Sky of Astana" - "Astana Aspany" will be held in the four major parks of the city. During the festival every resident and guest of Astana will be able to relax under the vast blue sky. A varied entertainment program lasting from early morning until 11.00 pm will be presented in each park. It will include various contests, family sports competitions, flash mobs, workshops, exhibitions, street theatre performances, open-air cinemas, lounge areas for relaxing on the grass, evening discos, films, theatrical performances, roller skating, etc.
One of the highlights of the Capital Day celebrations is certainly a gala concert of Kazakh and foreign singers УAskaktay ber, AstanaФ. The headliner of this year's show will be an American R'n'B singer, songwriter and music producer Akon.
On July 6 people will see a unique "Concert at home" of classical music stars from different countries who were born in Kazakhstan, such as Kairzhan Zholdybayev - tenor (Germany), Sara Naiman - Soprano (Austria), Amir Tebenikhin - pianist (Germany), Yerzhan Kulibayev Ц violinist (Spain).
The traditional fireworks on July 6, according to the organizers, this year will surpass all expectations. For the first time it will be set off from three spots of the city.
Another surprise for the residents and visitors will be an unforgettable 4D show on July 6 and 7. The 4D multimedia show will unfold on the facade of the State Opera and Ballet Theatre "Astana Opera". A live performance combined with 3D elements will be accompanied by short video stories that will make a show which has never been witnessed in Kazakhstan before.
Lovers of jazz music can visit a concert on July 7 called УSummer Jazz AstanaФ. Among other jazz music stars they will see the legendary British jazz band Level 42 and one of the most famous European jazz bands Mezzoforte.
It should be noted that every year over 100,000 visitors from different countries and other cities of Kazakhstan come to Astana on the Capital Day. All the money gained from the sale of tickets for the celebratory events on the Day of the Capital are traditionally used for treatment of children with disabilities.
The Day of the Capital has been celebrated in Astana since the date the city received the status of the capital in 1998. Previously this day was celebrated at the city level on June 10. In 2008 amendments were made to the law "On Holidays in the Republic of Kazakhstan", according to which a new national holiday "Capital DayФ was established on July 6, because on July 6, 1994, the Supreme Soviet of Kazakhstan made a decision to move the capital from Almaty to Akmola. On May 6, 1998, Akmola was renamed into Astana by the Presidential Decree.
On July 6, Astana will celebrate the 17th anniversary as KazakhstanТs capital. July 6, or Astana Day, is a national holiday and an official day off in Kazakhstan (woohoo! a day off!). Every year this bright and exciting event becomes a fun, beautiful celebration for the cityТs visitors and residents. Week-long festivities with vibrant performances and rich cultural events entertain people while celebrating Kazakh culture and KazakhstanТs multi-ethnic social fabric. Astana Day is a celebration of national pride for all Kazakhs, not just the cityТs residents, as the day recognizes AstanaТs growth from provincial city to 21st century regional hub.
The Astana Day celebration usually brings more than hundred thousand visitors together. Last year, more than 2000 guests from 23 foreign countries joined in on the party. The celebrations typically include a festival of nomadic civilizations, which aims to emphasize traditional Kazakh activities. A show of traditional Kazakh horse riding tricks is a popular spectacle.
The visitors have a chance to experience the nomadic culture up close by visiting the village featuring traditional Kazakh yurts or nomadic tents of the Eurasian steppe. In addition, a special festival for classical music lovers called The RiverТs Sound is typically held at the Esil River harbor. The world famous artists such as Anna Netrebko, the master of the world opera and ballet, La Scala, the troupe of the Milan Theater, Larisa Dolina, famous Russian singer and many others perform.
Astana Day Pic Astana Day celebrations are like American football halftime shows!
For the past years of the celebration, Astana got its own brand show called УAskatkai ber, AstanaФ. The night show is a brilliant gift for the capitalТs youth. In 2013 Nicole Sherzinger, the soloist of the Pussycat Dolls band visited Astana for its fifteen birthday. Last year, American singer Akon and British band Blue performed. Other events, including childrenТs concerts, sports and competitions, art shows, parades and vendors were be spread around the city. It is important to mention that the funds collected from last yearТs tickets sales were be given to a medical treatment of disabled children.