Seven architectural wonders of Kazakhstan

Cultural heritageCity BreakNomadic

One of the main reasons why tourists visit Kazakhstan is our pristine nature, but the architectural heritage attracts a lot of attention as well.

You are presented with the rating of the most amazing architectural constructions in Kazakhstan: starting from the era of clay, wood and stone to modern materials - concrete, steel and glass.

1. A Yurt (traditional Kazakh portable tent-house)

Architecture is a storehouse of rich information about the culture of certain ethnic groups. The inner construction of the yurt is the best way to tell us about the life of the Kazakh nomads. The early history of a yurt dates back to the 12th century BC, and the nomadic dwelling with a spherical dome, the so-called Kazakh yurt, was finally formed at the beginning of the 19th century. Like many years ago, a yurt today is an indispensable element in the lives of the modern descendants of nomads in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Kyrgyzstan. The main secret lies in its convenience, simplicity, and practicality: it is easily transportable, quickly assembled and the felt cover saves its inhabitants from rain, wind, and cold. A yurt is an inexpensive comfortable dwelling that is in no way inferior to a capital structure. The yurt is called a masterpiece of nomadic architecture.

2. Khan Shatyr

Along with other eye-catching skyscrapers and futuristic structures, Khan Shatyr is the architectural highlight of Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Translated from Kazakh, this name stands for “Khan of the tents”. And the building lives up to its name as it has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest tent-like structure in the world.
Khan Shatyr is one of the largest shopping and entertainment centers in all of Central Asia. Forbes magazine has included it in the top ten world ‘eco’ buildings.
It brilliantly embodies the concept of having a piece of land with an eternal summer. The unusual 150 meter high tent is made out of unique and innovative materials that regulates a constant cozy microclimate on the inside, no matter what the weather is like outside.
Khan Shatyr is a masterpiece of modern architecture that stands out amongst the growing architectural diversity of the modern metropolis of Astana.

3. Mausoleums of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi and Arystan Bab

The city of Turkistan is famous for its beautifully designed architectural monuments. The most outstanding of them is the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, or as it is sometimes called the second Mecca for the Muslim people. But it would be preposterous to talk about the mausoleum without mentioning the Mausoleum of Arystan Bab, without whom there would be no great individual like Yasawi. According to history, Arystan Bab used to be Ahmed Yasawi’s mentor.

In honor of the victory over the Golden Horde, the great emir Tamerlane planned to erect a magnificent building which is the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. In the middle of the city of Yassy (the former name of Turkistan), an unprecedented feat of construction was about to unfold, in which every townsman took part. But inexplicably, as time went on the walls kept getting ruined. After that, Tamerlane has a dream where he saw Ahmed Yasawi asking him to build a mausoleum for his teacher - Arystan Bab first.

Tamerlane erected a monumental shrine on the site, where once stood a small two-room mausoleum built by the followers of Arystan Bab after his death in the 12th century.

The Mausoleum of Arystan Bab was repeatedly destroyed due to weather conditions and was restored again. So in 1971, with the financial support of the locals, the mausoleum was rebuilt from burnt brick. The only reminder of the construction methods once used in Tamerlane’s era is the ancient carved columns which are carefully stored in it.

The sacred and majestic Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi proudly stands tall at 37.5 meters. Its construction was completed in 1405. The incredible energy of the tomb allows you to understand the story and touch the Kazakh culture.

The majority of travelers start their pilgrimage with a visit to the Mausoleum of Arystan Bab, before setting off for their pilgrimage to the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi.

4. The Kazakhstan Hotel

In the second half of the 20th century, the development of Almaty was almost experimental in its nature. Thanks to this, a lot of ambitious old-time ideas in the style of Soviet modernism, gave rise to quite some amazing feats of architecture. For example, a 102-meter 25-storey skyscraper - Kazakhstan Hotel, which was considered the tallest building in Almaty for 32 years. Despite the fact that it was not allowed to construct buildings above 12 floors due to the high seismic activity of the area.

Thanks to brand-new construction method that was quite innovative for those days, The Kazakhstan Hotel remains the most earthquake-resistant building in Almaty to this day.

The tower with a golden "crown" on its roof is truly an iconic building of Almaty.

5.Ascension Cathedral

There is a world-famous religious attraction site located in Almaty, which was built of wood with virtually no nails using unique ancient architectural technology. The Ascension Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church is one of the eight tallest buildings in the world made out of wood. The interior of the church is decorated with drawings, stucco moldings and wrought-iron ornaments which give special splendor to this holy place.

This unique cathedral opened its doors for parishioners in 1907. Unluckily just three years later, a severe earthquake struck the city, destroying almost all the buildings around it. Thanks to the special construction techniques, the cathedral was amongst the few buildings which were not damaged.

Today, the temple hosts daily services for hundreds of Christians. And the cathedral itself bears the title of a unique historical monument, not only in Kazakhstan but throughout the world.

6. Kok Tobe TV Tower

The Kok Tobe TV Tower was built to perform clear technical tasks. But the elegant, unique architectural design and the height of the construction made it a symbol of Almaty.

The newest and most innovative construction methods of the time were used during its construction. Can you imagine that in order to ensure the stability of the 372-meter tower on clay soil, a concrete foundation weighing 45 thousand tons had to be built! Despite the fact that the total weight of the tower is 50 thousand tons.

Thanks to the pendulum damper system, the TV tower cannot be affected by any strong gusts of wind and has a high seismic stability up to 10 points on the Richter scale.

The Kok Tobe TV Tower is the second highest building in Kazakhstan, and the 14th highest TV tower in the world!

7. Beket Ata Underground Mosque

Beket Ata Underground Mosque is located near the city of Aktau in the tract of Oglandy. The main architectural feature is that this mosque is carved into the rock. This is not just a cave, but a carved area of several completed rooms. The walls of the mosque are decorated with Arabic and Persian inscriptions.

The hermit Beket built four architectural monuments like this in Kazakhstan during his life. Every year, thousands of believers come to pray at the shrine.

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