Located in the centre of Nur-Sultan, previously known as Astana, the Capital City of Kazakhstan, the Independence Square, locally known as Kazakh Eli Square, is the main square in the city, surrounded by numerous architectural landmarks, centred around the tall Monument Kazakh Eli, topped by a golden eagle. Created in October 2009, the square was transformed into a historic village in September 2015, in honour of the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate, a Genghis nomadic state that roughly corresponds to modern-day Kazakhstan. History says, the Turco-Mongol clan of Tora, with traces of lineage to Genghis Khan, ruled Kazakh Khate, until it fell to the Russian Empire in 1731.
Nevertheless, the architecturally-inclined square features several attractions for the visitors, which apart from the Kazakh Eli Monument, includes the Palace of Independence, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, the Shabyt Palace of Creativity, the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the magnificent Hazret Sultan Mosque.
Standing on a quadrangular white marble foundation, decorated with bas-relief sculptures depicting the main events in the history of the independent Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kazak Eli Monument is the centrepiece of the Independence Square, as well as a popular landmark of the city. While the 91 metres tall column symbolises the year 1991, the year of independence of the country, the sacred bird Samruk, sitting on the top of the monument, represents the aspiration of the country to sustainable development and progress.
The central image in the first bas-relief in bronze, titled the President and the people, represents the figure of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, taking the oath with his hand on the Constitution, which symbolises supremacy of law in an independent state. There are people prominently located behind the President, embodying residents of the great friendly country, while the doves symbolize freedom and peace.
The bas-relief sculptures on the southern face of the pedestal exhibit a chronological view of valour, heroism and courage inherent in the people of Kazakhstan and are named Courage, while its western part, called Creation, depicts the story of the development and prosperity of the people from the nomadic life to space travel and exhibits the engineer and farmer, builder and astronaut, who made an invaluable contribution to the development of the country. The Future, located in the eastern part, is dedicated to the youths of Kazakhstan, who quest to reach the peak in every sphere, in the sphere of science, arts, culture and sport.
However, the centre is occupied by young married couples, symbolically representing the elevation of family values that strengthen the institution of marriage and the creation of a family, the basis of the Kazakh society.
The Palace of Independence, built in the shape of a trapezoid, has its outside made out of blue glass with a lattice of white pipes. Officially opened to the public on 15 December 2008, it is used for official state functions, including forums, meetings and conventions. The building contains several halls, which include a gallery of applied art, the Museum of City History of Astana and a four-dimensional cinema. It also houses a model replica of the city, exhibited for the pleasure of the visitors, along with various ethnographic and art exhibitions. The ground floor of the building is used for a wide variety of different conferences and events. While the most significant event held in the palace was a 2019 meeting of speakers of the parliaments of the Eurasian countries, its Congress Hall has witnessed many historic events like the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Summit in 2010, the anniversary summits of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) and OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), as well as the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, the highest supranational body of the Eurasian Economic Union.
The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, a mesmerizing epitome of modern architecture resembling a pyramid, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Kazakh capital, located in Independence Square. Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the new-age pyramid defined by a beautiful stained-glass representation of doves at its apex, symbolises the country's tolerance towards varied ethnic groups and houses an educational centre and a state-of-the-art opera house. Bathed in the golden and pale blue glow of the glass, the structure is made up of five storeys of triangles. While the three lower storeys of triangles are clad in pale granite, the two upper rows of triangles form a glazed apex, featuring doves, designed by Brian Clarke. Opened in late 2006, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation provides separate spaces for various ethnic groups, religions, and cultures. It houses a 1,500-seat opera house and also contains a new university of civilization, a library, a research centre for Kazakhstan's ethnic and geographical groups and a national museum of culture.
The Shabyt Palace of Creativity, perfectly complementing the already established architectural ensemble, stands out from the other buildings located in Independence Square for its unique oval shape. Covering a huge area of 30.5 metres, it is equipped with 38 columns, at an angle of 10 degrees that rise to a height of 7 floors. The unusually shaped building of the Shabyt Palace of Creativity, home to the Kazakh Art University, contains several halls for lectures, concerts, conferences, sports, filming pavilions, photography and art studios, each equipped with modern equipment.
The National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, built on Independence Square in 2015, is one of the largest museums in the country and has a diverse display of items which showcase the cultural history of the country. The museum is housed in an architecturally unique structure with seven blocks with nine floors and fourteen rooms. The museum comprises several galleries, which include the Hall of Astana, Hall of Independent Kazakhstan, Hall of Gold, Hall of Ancient and Medieval History, the Hall of History, Ethnography Hall and the Halls of Modern Art. While the Hall of Astana (Nur-Sultan) is represented by materials placed in chronological order, the Hall of History depicts the history of the Kazakh people, including the fateful and historical moments that led to the current state of the country. The Hall of Gold, considered a treasure trove, contains several thousand Bronze Age ornaments from the famed Golden Man, an ancient warrior of the 3rd or 4th century, whose gold-clad remains were uncovered in 1969. The Hall of Ethnography with its rich collection of objects related to Kazakhstan's nomadic culture exhibits various musical instruments, the home of nomadic Kazakhs and much more. In addition to the galleries, the museum also includes a children's museum and children's art centre, a library with a reading room, a conference room, souvenir kiosks and many more.
However, the magnificent Hazret Sultan Mosque with its tall white minarets rising around a splendidly patterned dome, crowned by a delicate crescent pointed towards the Mecca, is unquestionably the jewel in the crown of Independence Square.