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The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation

In September 2003, Kazakhstan the largest of the former Soviet Republics hosted the inaugural Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the capital, Astana. Spurred by the Congress' success, the President of Kazakhstan decided to make it a triennial event and commissioned the construction of the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation that was to be the permanent venue for the Congress and a global center for religious understanding, the renunciation of violence and the promotion of faith and human equality.

The pyramid shaped building stands 62 meters tall with a symmetric 62 x 62-meter base. The structure is clad in stone and glazed inserts with an apex of stained glass. The Palace houses a 1,500-seat opera house, The Museum of National History, The Research Center of World Religions, Library of Spiritual Religious Literature, Exhibition and conference rooms.

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Photo credit: www.66.hk

The pyramid is organized around a soaring central atrium, which is animated by shifting patterns of colored light. A glazed oculus in the floor of the atrium casts daylight down into the auditorium and creates a sense of vertical continuity from the lowest level of the building to the very peak. The assembly chamber itself is raised at the top of the pyramid, supported on four inclined pillars, characterized as “the hands of peace”. Lifts take delegates to a gardenlike reception space from where they ascend to the chamber via a winding ramp.

The pyramid was completed in 2006, and has since hosted five congresses attended by delegates from several dozen countries representing the world's main religions and faiths, who gather in this building to discuss ways to counter the spread of radicalism and terrorism. Ironically, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation also hosted two editions of the International Astana Action Film Festivals.

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Photo credit: astanaproject.wordpress.com

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Photo credit: CNN

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Photo credit: Foster + Partners

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Photo credit: Foster + Partners

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Photo credit: Foster + Partners

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Photo credit: Foster + Partners

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Photo credit: Foster + Partners

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Photo credit: Foster + Partners

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Photo credit: Foster + Partners

Sources: Foster + Partners / Wikipedia

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