The left bank of the River Ishim in Astana is bisected by a broad pedestrian mall. At one end, close to the Pyramid of Peace and Accord, is the presidential palace—the Ak Orda (White House), its blue-and-gold dome topped with a golden spire.
There’s more gold inside in the majestic halls used for state and ceremonial events, including the pessimistically named Hall of Extended Negotiations. Twenty-one types of marble were used for the floor patterns. According to the palace website, “Metaphorically, it reflects a steppe civilization in the mirror of the European culture, a synthesis of arts of the planet’s largest continent—Eurasia.” I have no idea what that means, but it’s typical of the lyrical descriptions of most of Astana’s new buildings.
Postcards from Stanland: Journeys in Central Asia (Ohio University Press, 2016) is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and other online retailers. Read excerpts at www.davidhmould.com (Travel Blogs) or Facebook /PostcardsFromStanland/ or view readings and interviews on YouTube