The Washington Monument vs. The Astana Bayterek

The Washington Monument in the capital city of the United States, Washington, DC and the Bayterek in the capital city of Kazakhstan, Nur-Sultan. These two iconic monuments pay homage to their countries and are architectural marvels that can be seen far and wide. What makes this post interesting is the striking comparisons about the two.

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is one of 5 monuments located on the National Mall in Washington, DC. To be clear, the national mall is not a shopping mall, but an open lawn in the shape of a cross in the center of DC with each monument at one end. It looks like this

Now as you can see from the picture, right in the top center in the middle of that circle is the Washington Monument. The monument is an obelisk that honors general, president, and America’s founding father George Washington. The idea to build a monument to honor him began in 1832, George Washington’s 100th birthday. Construction didn’t begin until 1848 after private funding was collected, a design was selected, and meeting the requirements designated by the city’s chief engineer Pierre L’Efant. By 1854, funding ran out and a party called the “Know-Nothings” took control later stopping the project. Then the Civil War broke out halting construction of the monument ever longer. By 1879, with only 1/3 of the monument completed, workers quickly got back to constructing the monument and on December 6th 1884, it was done topped by an aluminum apex.

Some fun facts about the Washington Monument are it was the tallest building in the world from 1884-1889, but is the tallest obelisk and stone structure in the world at 555 feet and 5 1/8 inches. It was a desire by Thomas Jefferson to make DC the “Paris of the West” and like Paris, nothing is taller than the monument. According to local law, no building in DC is taller than the Washington Monument by its height. Today, the monument is closed to the public due to repairs from the 2011 earthquake and Hurricane Irene. The Washington Monument is a great architectural monument that honors the father of the United States. ** Bayterek**

The Bayterek in Kazakhstan in one of the most dazzling and eye-popping monuments that honors Kazakhstan. The tower is a white latticed structure with a golden orb on the top. The Bayterek pays homage to the ancestors of Kazakhstan, the ancient Turks. They were the one of the earliest settlers of Kazakhstan and even still today, Kazakhstan embraces its Turkic heritage. The Bayterek is based on a Turkic legend. The tower represents a poplar tree and the legend goes that a mythical bird called Samruk (a Kazakh equivalent of the bird of Phoenix) flew to a poplar tree and laid a golden egg that contained the secrets to human desire and happiness, out of reach to humans. The Bayterek looks like this:

The Bayterek is located in the middle of Nurzhol Boulevard or better known as Radiant Path. Radiant Path to best describe it is the National Mall but with the monuments in different places but the Bayterek is in the middle. Also, it trumps the National Mall because the landscape on it is amazing and I’m not just talking in person but look at it here:

The creation of the Bayterek actually came from the First President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who sketched the idea on a napkin when moving the capital of Kazakhstan from Almaty to Nur-Sultan. The structure is 105 meters tall (that’s about 318 feet) and is one of the tallest buildings in Nur-Sultan. However, the orb sits at 97 meters and it is because 97 translates to 1997, the year Nur-Sultan became the capital. People for 500 tenge (or $3.30) can take an elevator to the orb where under a gold tint you get a 360 degree view of Nur-Sultan. Along with the view, in the center is a gold imprint of a hand. Some people say, it is the imprint of President Nazarbayev’s right hand facing the Presidential Palace. What you’re supposed to do is place your hand in the mold and make a wish. If you’re lucky, your hand may trigger the playing of the Kazakhstan national anthem. The Bayterek is the most outstanding monument in Nur-Sultan that honors the capital, Kazakhstan, it’s cultural heritage, and founders.


As I have just explained the Bayterek and the Washington Monument, the question is what makes them different and similar? Here are a few points that can be made:

  • Representation: Both the Washington Monument and the Bayterek represent the founding of their nations, even though one represents the founding father of the United States and the other a ancient tribes that impacted the civilization of today’s Kazakhstan. Plus each monument have something symbolic about them in terms of their features and location.
  • View: Each have 360 views of their respected capitals but the Bayterek wins this one. Since it’s a glass orb, you can walk around in the orb and see all of the city, even standing in one place. The Washinton Monument on each side has two windows (about the size of a door hatch) that give you great views. However, from experience, these windows are small and people cram into each window to get a view versus the Bayterek where you can stand anywhere and get a great view.
  • Things to do: Bayterek wins this one. The Washington Monument is a guided tour where a park ranger talks, takes you in an elevator to the top, cram into small window to see DC and take pictures, go down and that’s the end. For some people with small attention spans, it’s boring. The Bayterek lets you go up and feel free to walk around the orb and take pictures of an amazing landscape. Plus there’s a gold handprint and a famous local restaurant serving a variety of international and local brand beer!

These two monuments are the pride of their countries, architectural icons of their cities, and represent the founding of their respected home countries. The Washington Monument honors the founding father of the United States and is one of the most visited sites in the country. In Kazakhstan, the Bayterek is the beacon of Kazakhstan that reflects is cultural heritage that is in the Kazakh people and is one really cool place to visit. When you’re in DC or Nur-Sultan, make sure you visit these monuments.