This Kipchak mosque, also called 'Turkmenbashi Ruhy Metjidi' is situated a bit outside Ashgabat town. This rather new mosque, built in 2001 by the president Niyazov, is one of the largest mosques in Central Asia. The minarets are 91 meter high. About ten thousand pilgrims can visit the mosque at the same time. Niyazov built this mosque at the place where his mother and tow brothers were killed by the earthquake of 1948.
The mosque looks impressive by its scale, white marble and golden cupola's, but in some way it felt like the mosque misses the atmosphere and soul mosques usual have. It's peculiar, this mosque is the first mosque I ever visited which has no Arabic texts from the Koran. What is written inside the mosque is in the Turkmen language. They told me these are texts from the Ruhnama, the important Turkmen book written by president Niyazov. In this book he wrote his version of Turkmen history, culture and spirituality.
In the huge green area of Berzengi south of the citycentre not only huge white marble buildings are built in a spacious green setting, but it looks like that for every event a new monument is built.
In 2001 at the 10th anneversary of the independence in 1991 a new monument is erected. When you enter the spacious area the first thing you see is a huge gold coloured staue of the president. And believe me this is not the only place in town where you will find his golden statue.
There are also a lot of fountains all over the place like almost everywhere in this hot and dry city. In the 'lonely planet' I red that only the insane and very unfortunate will visit Ashgabat in summer. I was there in july and I survived, not only because of the fountains.
The most important part of the monument is a huge fountain with horses at the top. This monument is at the same time a tribute to the famous Turkmen Akhal-Teke horses, being an important heritage of the country for a long time.
During our short stay in Ashgabat we had not the opportunity to visit the Tolkuchka Bazaar 8km north of town, because we were not there during marketdays. Maybe our visit to the Russian Market in the citycentre was not really an adequate substitute, but it was very pleasant and interesting to walk around at this lively market for some hours.
I always like it to stroll around at markets to get a glimpse of daily life. At the Russian market they sell food like fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, bread, sweets, meat, but also alcoholic drinks and huge nicily decorated cakes. There werd also small shops selling clothes, books and colourful plastic baths and toys for playing in and with water.
When you return from the monument for 10 years of indepence and walk back to the street, you will see huge arches of white marble at the south side of the street.
Believe it or not: this structure is built as monument in 2002 to celebrate eleven years of independence, as our tourguide told us. Every few months new white marble buildings and structures appear in the south Berzengi area of the city. Not of all our guide knew the meaning. Maybe it's is just the way how the public space in the south of Ashgabat is designed.
Ashgabat is the town of huge and ostentatious monuments with large and spacious parks around. Even if you don't like to visit monuments, you need at least to visit one or a few to look at the scale, ornaments, the fountains and details. It's part of Ashgabat´s appearance and culture anyway.
This monument is told to be a symbol connecting the past and future of Turkmenistan. Around the central part, looking like a huge yurt with needle, you can see lots of dark statues of the heroes of Turkmenistan and fighters for the freedom of Turkmenistan.
The Ertogul Gazi mosque in the citycentre of Ashgabat has a lovely oriental architecture. The appearance of the mosque shows the connection with the Ottoman and Turkish architecture. There is a obvious resemblance with the Süleymaniye Mosque or Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
The mosque has four minarets. The inner court has nicily decorated ceilings (picture 3) and black-white ornaments (picture 1, 3 , 5). I liked the scenic views from the innercourt at the minarets (picture (4 & 5).
The monument is dedicated to the victims of the earthquake of 1948. The Earthquake museum under the impressive sculpture contains touching displays of the terrible tragedy of 1948. There are pictures of pre-1948 earthquakes, the burying of the 110.000 bodies, information about the efforts to clean up the area during 5 years and the rebuilding of the city.
The impressive bombastic bronze sculpture of the bull and globe is designed by sculptor B. Annarumadov. It is based on an ancient myth. The depicted child is said to be the baby Niyazov.
The landmark of the citycentre of Ashgabat is the high Arch of Neutrality. At top of the arch is the 12 meter high gold polished statue of former president Niyazov, also called Turkmenbashi, meaning the leader of the Turkmens. This statue turnes every day 360 degrees so that Turkmenbashhi always faces the sun. The arch is raised as a symbol for a free and independent Turkmenistan, celebrating the Turkmen people endorsement of Turkmenbashi's policy of neutrality in 1998.
It is possible to visit the arch for a small entrance fee. There is an elevator to bring you up. I didn´t, though you will have a good view at the independence Square ,the Presidential Palace and the rest of the citycentre. From the arch you are also able to make pictures of the Presidential Palace. The guards will not allow you to do so from the square below.
Alexander the Great's horse, Bucephalus, is said to have been an Akhal-Teke.
Akhal horses and carpets are the most famous products of Turkmens.They are proud of this products and I will write more about it my next tips
Koroglu is also famous revolter against the Ottoman sultan he use to live in Bolu mountains in Turkey and because he was made blind after he was captured by the Sultan his name was koroglu ( son of a blind)
Ashgabat earthquake on October 6 1948. An estimated 7.3 on the Richter scale, the earthquake killed over 110,000 (2/3 the population of the city).This monument is made for remember the victims.Dont worry saparmurat is not there ...
Visit the Neutrality Arc in the Center of Ashgabat where you can have a very nice view of the city from the top floor. It is an excellent location for taking photos. Make sure you visit it twice: during a sunny day and at night. It only costs 1,000 Manats ($0.04).
Set of north of town is a bazaar. Just saying the words doesn't really communicate the chaos, the scale, and the pure, unadulterated capitalism in a great socialist state. Lines of Ladas and UAZ russojeeps and Mercedes go in procession, park in an open field, and walk across to rows and neighborhoods of people hawking all and sundry.
There are lines of carpet sellers, clothing stalls with obvious fake Guccis and poorly made exercise clothing with the endorsement of "Mike Tison" and "Mikeal Jordin" stitched on the jacket, people selling spices and vegetables, even cars, both new and used. One part of the bazaar was where you got a new car, a UAZ Russojeep with plastic still on the seats. Some guy closeby would sit with auto parts of various descriptions on a sheet of plastic.
I was able to buy a few things on my own with my halting Russian, but if you are buying anything big ticket, go with a local. One of my friends from there is a shark among minnows when it comes to bartering. If the salesman even senses a westerner closeby, the price triples. My friend took it as a point of personal honor that she could get it as close to cost or below as possible. My guilt chip was firing like mad because here she was haggling over a few pennies while I made easily fifty times as much money as any one of them.
From China to the west for two thousand years, goods crossed the desert from settlement to settlement. One of the largest stops was the city of Merv, now in eastern Turkmenistan. Very little remains of the city, some walls and a few ruined forts. But my oh my, what a place like no other I have seen.
It once held 100,000 souls, a Zoroastrian city before the rise of Islam. Within its gates you could rest your camels and get a bed for the night. Then came Alexander the Great who conquered what then became known as Bactria. After several hundreds years of a very widely displaced Hellenistic veneer over nomadic lives, then came Islam. Other conquerors included the Persian Empire, the Mongols, and ultimately the Russians.
What is left is eerie, empty and altogether moving.
South of the city lies Berzengi, a massive park of sorts with typical Turkmen monumental architecture. The National Museum is in the giant golden plunger looking thing far to the south. Entry to the museum is $10 but they were prepared to let me go in for $5 but it seems this is the bottom end so I did not go in.
Do not miss the giant monument of Turkmenbashi's book, Ruhmana. It is on the west side of this park, near the main road.