In documenting the old and new capitals of Kazakhstan, Amsterdam-based photographer Ryan Koopmans managed to capture the country’s ever-changing urban landscape with its huge tower blocks and peculiarly symmetrical public gardens.
The ninth biggest landmass in the world, Kazakhstan gained the independence only 25 years ago. At the end of 1997, the country’s capital was moved from Almaty to Akmola, and the center shifted from Trans-Ili Alatau mountains in the south to the plain fields of Kazakh desert in the north. The location is not the only significant difference between the two cities, though. The new capital, named Astana (‘capital’ in Kazakh), has a population of only few hundred thousands, in comparison to a million in the old capital. Koopmans has worked in Kazakhstan over the past four years, visiting both old and new capitals and observing the contrast between the two cities.