Masonic symbolism in Astana leads some to believe it is the command centre of global Freemasonry and New World Order

“Remarkably, Astana has gained more Internet acclaim for its reputation as an alleged command centre of global Freemasonry than it has for being a modern civic utopia built from scratch on the unremitting steppe. Its futuristic architecture and extraordinary feats of engineering – including its giant glass pyramid, the world’s largest tent, and an enormous aluminum spaceship – have led misinformed pundits to reach the same ominous conclusion: Freemasonry must be behind it.

Astana Circus UFO at Night. Architect Tolegen Abilda, 2005. Photo: Evgeny Tkachenko.

Dedicated to self-improvement and charity, Freemasonry underwent a transformation in the 1640s, when it shifted from being a guild of “operative” stonemasons to becoming “a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” Within a century membership rocketed, and soon included such luminaries as Voltaire (1694-1778), Frederick the Great (1712-86), Benjamin Franklin (1705-90), George Washington (1732-99), Mozart (1756-91), Count Stroganov of Russia (1733-1811), as well as the most illustrious Russian writers and social critics of the period, such as Mikhail Sheherbatov (1733-90), the leading exponent of the Russian Enlightenment. For Stephen Baehr, this proliferation of Freemasonry in Russian society was a critical aspect of a propagandistic “Paradise Myth” in Russian literature and culture. He further argues that this megamyth served as a powerful ideological tool for portraying Russia as a paradisiacal Eden and extolling the Tsar as a divine mediator in the restoration of the world. This golden age of utopian social order has ostensibly striking parallels to Nazarbayev and Astana.

The Renaissance historian, Frances Yates, astutely notes that “the origins of Freemasonry is one of the most debated, and debatable, subjects in the whole realm of historical enquiry.” To the layman, the brotherhood evokes fears of world domination by an elite coterie who enjoys privileged access to wealth and power. The rigid secrecy of its rites has spawned countless conspiracy theories and condemnations, including sixteen papal pronouncements denouncing the fraternity as an agent of political sedition in league with the Devil. Infernal agendas aside, the brotherhood’s greatest threat to Rome was that it potently disseminated Enlightenment ideas and that Masonic lodges were places where individuals of diverse backgrounds and distinctions of rank dissolved into an egalitarian credo of sociability.

Golden Towers of the House of Ministries. Photo: Ryan Koopmans. 

Golden Towers of the House of Ministries. Photo: Ryan Koopmans. 

The first recorded use of the term “Freemason” is found in the 1325 London Coroners’ Rolls, as an abbreviation of a “free-stone” mason, a highly-skilled artisan who could “freely” sculpt stone in any direction. The earliest surviving testimonies of Freemasonry are the so-called Regius and Cooke Manuscripts, composed in the second quarter of the fifteenth century, which provide legendary histories of architecture and the stonemasons’ craft. According to David Stevenson, the origins of Freemasonry reside in Scotland, where at the close of the sixteenth century, masons met in “lodges” in order to discuss an initiatory system of “degrees” that combined the geometric secrets of the medieval master-builders with Hermetic philosophy and Renaissance mysticism. The Scottish genesis led the lodges to organize on a territorial basis, and to hold regular meetings through which “non-operative” or “speculative” stonemasons could become members of the fraternity.

The principles of Freemasonry are more than 800 years old, and its members infused the art of building with a sense of mystery, meaning, and mythical symbolism unprecedented in the history of architecture. Freemasons ascribed esoteric meanings to the working tools of medieval craftsmanship – the gauge, chisel, gavel, plumb rule, level, and square became symbolic guides for spiritual illumination and ethical probity. According to Masonic legend, the legendary hero and architect Hiram Abiff, established the brotherhood during the construction of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple of Solomon is the central leitmotif of Freemasonry – an emblematic reminder of what has been lost, and hopefulness for what may be recovered in a Mason’s personal development. Masonic rituals imbue the construction of the Temple with spiritual significance and illustrate how the candidate metaphorically transforms “rough stone” (man, in an ignorant, unpolished state) into “perfect ashlar,” which represents “expanded intellect, controlled passions, and purified life.” Within the confines of a lodge (itself a facsimile of the original Temple in Jerusalem), Freemasons provide an allegorical path to virtue interwoven with moral philosophy, secret passwords, and Masonic signs.”

Excerpted from Astana: Architecture, Myth and Destiny

Astana: Architecture, Myth & Destiny

Astana: Architecture, Myth & Destiny

Is Astana the command centre of global Freemasonry and the New World Order? Find the answer in Dr. Frank Albo’s new book, Astana: Architecture, Myth and Destiny.


Dr. Frank Albo is an Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Winnipeg, where he specializes in architecture, Freemasonry, and the Western esoteric tradition. He holds a PhD in the history of architecture, and graduate degrees in ancient Near Eastern languages and art history. Learn more about Dr. Ablo’s work and upcoming publications at