Nur-Sultan vs Almaty: Two vastly different glimpses of Kazakhstan

From Akmolinsk to Tselinograd, Kazakhstan’s capital has had several names over the years, a reflection of a city that seems to constantly be in the throes of an identity crisis. Since March 2019, it’s now Nur-Sultan, in honour of the long-time president Nursultan Nazarbayev, but the locals have mainly stuck with calling it Astana. Nur-Sultan looks a bit like the fevered imaginings of a particularly mad architect. One sees pyramids, temples on building’s roofs and a department store in the form of a feather duster. Above the jumble, on a white steel frame, stands a golden sphere: This is the Ba…

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