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Ak Orda

At the east end of Nurzhol Boulevard are two tall conical buildings, faced in a covering of reflective gold. North and south of these a large, curving, wall-like building, which houses various government ministries and agencies, essentially serves to enclose the space to its east, up to the bank of the River Ishim beyond. In this enclosed space lie the seats of legislative, executive and judicial power in Kazakhstan. The wall-like building is punctured by two roads serving the institutions beyond: large tiled arches within the framework of the building make way for the roads. Take either of these, respectively one block north and south of Nurzhol Boulevard.

They bring you into a large and rather bleak square. Standing on this your attention is immediately drawn to the huge bay-fronted building on the eastern side of the square, which houses the presidential palace, the Ak Orda. This is a sumptuous building, with a blue and gold dome topped with a spire with a sun at its apex, a steppe eagle flying beneath, symbols drawn from the Kazakhstan flag. As you would expect, the building is fenced off and well guarded. It is the presidents place of work, not his residence, and also houses the staff of the Presidential Administration.

On the north side of the square, the low white-tiled building, square in plan, houses the Supreme Court. In the middle of the entrance staircase lo the building, which was opened in 2004, is a statue of the Greek goddess Themis, representing justice, her eyes blindfolded as she holds the balanced scales in front of her. The undulating structure at the south side of the square, under construction at the time of research, will be an entertainment complex, apparently. On the west side of the square stand three skyscrapers, their entrances on a raised courtyard reached by taking a flight of stairs up from the square. The tower to the left of ibis staircase is the House of Government, home, inter alia, to the prime minister's office. The two towers to the right of the staircase house Kazakhstan's parliament. The tower topped with beige domes decorated with green diamonds houses the offices of the Senate, the upper chamber of parliament. The plainer tower behind is home to the offices of the lower chamber, the Majilis.