The most enigmatic figures in the history of the world are the great pyramids in Egypt. Not known to many, Central Asia has its own pyramid found in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. However, it is neither ancient nor nameless. Kazakhstan’s modern pyramid was constructed in 2006 and it is called Palace of Peace and Harmony.
Also referred to as the “Palace of Peace and Accord”, “Palace of Peace and Reconciliation” or “Pyramid of Peace”, this modern pyramid is now being considered as possibly the 8th wonder of the modern world. Designed by the world-renowned architect, Norman Foster, this unique structure follows the Greek’s Golden Ratio principle on which all pyramids are built. The base of the Pyramid is 62×62 square meters and the height is also 62 meters. If a giant crane could topple the pyramid, it can squarely stand on any of its sides. But what’s really fascinating about Astana’s pyramid other than its sheer architectural beauty is the purpose for which it was built.
It was built primarily to host the Congress of Leaders of the World and Traditional Religions. Leaders of the world’s religions – Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Taoism and others – have entered the gates and walked the halls of the Pyramid of Peace. Inside are different areas that can specifically accommodation people representing different forms of faith. The Third Congress was held on July 1 and 2, 2009 and was participated in by 60 delegations, which included representatives from the United Nations, the Islamic Conference Organization and UNESCO. The event opened to a concert of Montserrat Caballe that was viewed by 1,500 people inside the pyramid’s concert hall. The Second Congress was held three years ago also in the Pyramid, which was newly opened in 1996.
After the Third Congress, Pope John Paul II visited Astana and said, “From Kazakhstan, a country that is an example of harmony between men and women of different origins and beliefs, I wish to make an earnest call to everyone, Christians and the followers of other religions, to work together to build a world without violence, a world that loves life, and grows in justice and solidarity.”
The actual Congress meetings were held at the Cradle Hall located on the upper portions of the Pyramid. Nearby is the Winter Garden, which showcases different plants and flowers from around the world. The pyramid is crowned with a large glass dome with 130 dove images depicting the peoples of Kazakhstan. At night, the dome shines brightly like a beacon signaling for all peoples, races and religions to unite.
Palace of Peace and Harmony is equipped with a number of conference rooms, galleries, exhibition areas, library, research center and other facilities. The biggest hall is the 2,000-square-meter wide Cheops Atrium, which contains the “General Development Plan Astana until 2030.” The Museum of National History is also found inside the Pyramid, as well as the Research Center of World Religions and the Library of Spiritual Religious Literature. The entire structure bears the colors gold and pale blue, which are the colors of the Kazakhstan flag.