Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »
The Perfect Gift for Travelers: Our #1 New York Times® best selling book »

Astana, Kazakhstan

Bayterek Tower

A modern tower, symbolizing the legend of a golden egg on top of the tree of life. 

The Kazakh word “bayterek” translates literally to mean “tall poplar,” as in the tree. That’s what makes Bayterek Tower such a fitting name for a national monument steeped in symbolism and meaning, connecting the old world to the modern in a celebration of progress.

Located in Astana, Kazakhstan, every element of Bayterek Tower was designed with the intention of imparting meaning to visitors and citizens alike, right down to the height of the tower, which stands 97 meters tall to represent 1997, the year in which Astana was named the capital of Kazakhstan.

The unusual construction of the tower is more than just a unique artistic flourish. The golden sphere that rests atop the many pointed spires of the tower is meant to symbolize an egg nestled amongst tree limbs – a nod to an age-old local folktale about happiness and beginnings, focusing on a bird who laid its egg in the sacred tree of life.

This combination of the old and the new is intriguing and inspiring to both Kazakhs and visitors, who are invited to travel to the top of the tower and see views of the city from an observation deck inside its golden dome. Not only does this provide a unique tourist attraction, but also yet another means of symbolism, as visitors travel inside the “egg” of happiness and beginnings, able to see the modern world from a place of history and legend.