One middle-European man visited Kazakhstan and returned home.
- Well, tell us, what kind of country is this? – Asked his family.
- Hmm…How would it be more understandable for you... Do you know Denmark?
- And Great Britain?
- We know.
- And Vatican?
- Of course!
- So, Kazakhstan is completely different!
…If it is necessary to compare Kazakhstan with any European country, it could be compared with Germany. Our capital also moved to a new location in the last years of the twentieth century; from Alma-Ata to Akmola - Tzelinograd. And it got a new name Astana.
Despite the change in status, Almaty remained the most extensive city in Kazakhstan; it is modern city, lying at the foot of the grand Trans-Ili Alatau ridge. From most of the Almaty streets, you can see mountain peaks covered with eternal ice with heights 4 - 4.5 kilometers. You still can see a panorama of the entire ridge from the main squares of old capital, despite the active development in recent years; it is a favorite sight of guests and Almaty residents, who was born and raised seeing this beauty.
Till recently, apples were considered as a second big attraction after mountains in Almaty. The best of them you could find in a large assortment at the main market of the city - the Green Market. King of local apples is the famous "Oporto", the fruits of which are huge (up to 1 kilogram!), rosy and juicy; they created a furore a hundred years ago at the World Exhibition in Paris. Now, however, the famous apple orchards are built up with cottages, and prices on apples are much higher than prices on bananas and tangerines, which are arriving from the Chinese tropics.
So it is no coincidence that glory of Almaty beauties outshone the glory of Almaty apples. They are irreplaceable members and frequent winners of many major international beauty contests, fashion shows and advertising campaigns. The fact is that Almaty is sort of ethno-cultural cauldron, where for the second century Kazakhs and Russian, Germans and Uighurs, Koreans and Ukrainians, Kurds and Chechens, Greeks and Turks coexist in peace and love. The wonderful alchemy of a medley of races constantly occurs here, and especially sophisticated, diverse and compelling breed of local beauties appeared here as a result. We can say that pretty girls have become a mandatory element of the Southern capital as well as snow-white peaks.
City is young, its biography began in 1854, when Russian expeditionary squadron of Major Peremyslvskiy laid a foundation of Almaty tract (Apple), a military fortification Vernyi. The fortress was designed to strengthen the southern borders of the newly joined lands to Russian Empire and protect them from the constant attacks of Kokand khanate. Remains of the rampart still can be seen in the historical part of the city. This is one of the few monuments from Vernyi time along with the original Orthodox churches, including the famous Cathedral of Ascension (one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world).
Only a few old public buildings survived here. During its short history, the city experienced two strong earthquakes, each of them exceeded the strength of the famous Lisbon one.
Modern Almаty is a major cultural, scientific and student center. Here are several theaters, opera, large symphony orchestra and a number of artists who have an international fame. Significant artistic valuables of the state remained in the city, they are stored in several museums, the National Library and a number of private collections.
Almaty remains the largest commercial and financial center of Kazakhstan. Major capital and main ideas of their commercial use are here. It is not a coincidence that the old capital regularly hosts major international exhibitions, trade fairs, seminars and business meetings.
And what is about Astana? Astana is a storefront and a sign board of modern Kazakhstan. It has been building up on the most ambitious projects. Billions of capital investments have been investing in the city that peacefully slept on the banks of the lazy Ishim. Here is focused the entire spectrum of governance structures of the young and fast-growing country, which is already being called "the Central Asian tiger". Changes that appeared in this old provincial center after transferring the capital of the republic are impressive in their scope and prospects.
Interestingly, the city almost became the capital once. It happened during the time of Nikita Khrushchev, an anxious General Secretary, who wanted to create a very special administrative region on developing Tselina territory, which would include northern Kazakhstan and southern parts of Siberia. Back then, in 1961, Akmola became Tselinograd, and huge pompous building designed for regional management decorated the main square.
New capital of Kazakhstan is the brainchild of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has decided that the capital of such big country should be in center of the country. Tzelinograd was renamed to Akmola again and then received its present name - Astana (Capital).