Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Kazakhstan - The first Kazakh pyramid

October 22-23

So it’s half-term for Haileybury Astana, and that means a week sans teaching for yours truly. That means one thing – time to explore!

I have explored my home of two months in a reasonable amount of detail, but there is much more to see in this city of 600,000 people and almost as many wacky buildings. One such building I hadn’t entered up to this point has a base, four visible faces and one vertex at its apex. Sorry, we’ve been doing properties of 3D shapes in Maths. Anyway, it’s a pyramid.

No, not that one. This one.

Its official title is the Palace of Peace & Accord. It houses a concert hall, religious conventions…and apparently a greenhouse, judging from how hot it is up at the top of the 62m structure. It has a great location – just in front of the river, and in line with the Bayterek, Ak Orda and the big Kazak Yeli monument. 500KZT gets you in and on an ‘English-speaking’ (combined with Russian) tour.

It opened in 2006 and, showing the speed of construction in Kazakhstan, only took 14 months to build. Norman Foster was heavily involved in the design of the pyramid. One of the focal points of the design is that the windows are covered with doves.

Kazakh fun fact: Each of the 131 doves represents the 131 different nationalities in Kazakhstan. Quite what happens when a citizen of Southern Sudan moves here…

The main ventricle of the pyramid is fairly bland, but there is a garden higher up and on the eighth, top floor is something that resembles a command centre from a science-fiction movie. All systems go? It’s actually a collection of translating machines for those religious seminars held here. Still, very bizarre. Especially if it is as hot as that on a daily basis up there. Scorcher.

It was a very nice autumnal day in Astana. Having experienced the following week, I believe it is the final nice autumnal day in Astana, and possibly the last day that feels ‘warm’ until approximately April. We were able to enjoy some splendid views from the Bayterek – the first time I had risen to its summit in the daytime. It was rather crowded – weddings generally happen on Saturdays in Kazakhstan, and generally happen in beautiful areas of the country. The flora surrounding the Bayterek is classed as one such location.

In spite of our vacation, I did have to pop into school a couple of times. A bit more difficult to do without the school bus. Many taxis are unaware of the school’s locale, and there is one public bus that eventually worms its way across the bridge to our brand new building. That’s before attempting to enter the damn thing. ID is required, yet we…haven’t been issued it yet. A bit of basic Russian does the trick.

Ultimately this upcoming week isn’t about school, however. This is about having fun. Having good food. Exploring this wonderful place I now call home.

Love you all


1 comment:

  1. This post deserves a comment. Found it by looking at pictures of extreme buildings on Google Images. You made a nice write-up. Thanks!