Fun things to do in Turkmenistan

  • Earthquake Memorial, Ashgabat
    Earthquake Memorial, Ashgabat
    by SallyM
  • Nissa
    Nissa
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  • Azadi Mosque, Ashgabat
    Azadi Mosque, Ashgabat
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Turkmenistan

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    Ancient Merv

    by Ekahau Updated Jul 16, 2006

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    Merv is one amazing place if you are like this VTer and love history. It was the largest city in the world in the 1200erds. For many centuries, Merv was regarded as one of the richest, most highly cultured centers of the Ancient East. Its greatest period of glory was during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when it served as the Eastern capital of the Great Seljuks.

    It is one of the major centers on the Silk Road and goes as far back as at least the the 3rd millennium BCE. Merv is reported to be the origin of Hindu belief in Mount Meru, which Hinduism declares to be the centre of the world.It is first recorded in history in the Avesta, the bible of the Zoroastrian. Merv was part of Alexander the Great's conguest and was even named Alexandria for a time. Antiochus I the son of Apame the Persian princesses and Alexander’s general rebuilt Merv. Lots of coins with Alexander and Antiochus face on it are found in the digs. Lots of coins have been found and we Vter can see are really cool with the faces of the rulers: a long unbroken direct Sassanian rule of four centuries is documented from the unbroken series of coins originally minted at Merv. Beside the official Zoroastrianism of the Sassanid dynasty, and the Parthenon Empire Merv was home to a range of other like Buddhists and Manichaeans.

    The city of Merv, which was once a really bid deal- in fact- the largest in the world until it was destroyed by Ghengis Khan's son. It is thought that over a million of its inhabitants were killed in 1221 or 22. What you can see in the photos are the mausoleums of the VIP like that of the Sultan Sanjar, completed in about 1140. The Museum in Mary is interesting as well and worth a look and if you are really interested in their fascination history the Turkmen will go out of there way to help you learn about their fascinating history.

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    Historical old Nissa - Parthian Empire

    by Ekahau Written Jul 17, 2006

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    Yes this is well woth the visit it is the capital of the Parthian Empire the other empire at the time of Rome. Mithradates I (171-138 BC) was the king that made Parthia into a major power and Built Nissa into his capital. He expanded the empire westward into Mesopotamia and eastward into Bactria. Actively promoted Hellenism and titled himself "philhellene" (friend of the Greeks). The VTer can see the Old Nissa’s ruins it is about 10 miles west of Ashgabat. Old Nissa was the capital of the Parthian Empire, one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Like Merv Nissa is mentioned in the Zend – Avesta – the Bible of the Zoroastrianism. Old Nissa is is the real center of the Parthian Empire where it all started the huge empire one of the biggest of the ancient world.
    Open: Monday Wednesday - ; 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

    Entry Fee: 5,000 Manats

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    Annau Archeology site

    by Ekahau Written Jul 18, 2006

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    Not very far from beautiful downtown Ashgabat is this very interesting major stop on the Silk Road. The Great Annau Mosque one of the beautiful blue tile mosques is really something because it’s blue mosaic tile depicted Chinese dragons looking east.

    When I was there the folks from the Univ of Penn had done some wonderful work on the early bonze age

    An English speaking tour guide who took us around is Ruslan Muradov at (993-12) 35-38-81 or by e-mail rum@online.tm

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    Ashgabat, Turkmenbashi's 'city of love'

    by sachara Written Nov 24, 2008

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    Ashgabat, meaning the 'city of love' is the capital of Turkmenistan. This booming city with huge marble buildings (picture 4), enormous monuments, parade grounds, extended parklands (picture 3) and fountains (picture 5) is the showcase of Turkmenbashi, the former president Niyazov. The landmark of the citycentre is the high Arch of Neutrality (picture 1). At top of the arch is the 12 meter high gold polished statue of 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.

    And believe me at top of this arch is not the only place in town where you will find a golden statue of Turkmenbashi. In the huge green area of Berzengi south of the citycentre in 2001 a monument is erected at the 10th anniversary of the independence in 1991 When you enter the spacious area the first thing you see is the huge gold coloured statue of the president (picture 2) before you reach the monument, being a huge fountain with horses at the top.

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    Nissa, capital of the Parthian empire

    by sachara Updated Sep 22, 2008

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    Once Nissa was one of the earliest and most important cities of the Parthian Empire, one of the oldest civilizations in the world. From Nissa the Parthian kings started their conquests and turned small Parthia into a huge empire that stretched from the Indus to the Euphrate.

    The archaeological site includes the remains of Old and New Nissa. Old Nissa was an important center of the Parthian state, which existed from the third century BC up to the third century AD. It rivaled with Rome for supremacy in the Near East.

    Old Nissa was turned into a fortress. The walls of the fortress were about 8-9 meter thick with 43 rectangular towers. The main buildings of Old Nissa are grouped in a northern and a central or southern part. In the northern part are the treasury, a vine storage, workshops and other buildings. In the southern part you can find the remains of the Square Hal with fired brick columns and the Round Hall (17 m in diameter). You need a huge imagination and explanation by a guide to get a slight idea how Nisa has looked like in the former days.

    In 2007 Nissa became a UNESCO World Heritage Site because:
    "Old and New Nissa conserve the unexcavated remains of an ancient civilization which skilfully combined its own traditional cultural elements with those of the Hellenistic and Roman west. Archaeological excavations in two parts of the site have revealed richly decorated architecture, illustrative of domestic, state and religious functions. Situated at the crossroads of important commercial and strategic axes, this powerful empire formed a barrier to Roman expansion while serving as an important communication and trading centre between east and west, north and south."

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    Ashgabat, Earthquake Memorial and Museum

    by sachara Written Nov 24, 2008

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    In the citycentre of Ashgabat is the Earthquake Memorial and Museum. This 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.

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    Konye Urgench, UNESCO world heritage site

    by sachara Updated Sep 22, 2008

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    Konye Urgench (Old Urgench) was the capital of the Khorezm region, part of the Achaemenid Empire. Ancient Konye Urgench was considered as one of the major cities of the East. The city developed, thanks to its location on the trade routes from the south to the north and from the west to the east.

    No one knows exactly when Konye-Urgench was founded. During recent excavations traces of an ancient settlement were discovered with ceramics of the 6th century AD. In 712, Khorezm was overthrown by the Arabs and got its name Urgench . The scientists who studied the topography of Urgench considered that the territory was 1000 hectares from the 10th to 14th century AD. Legends tell that the town Konye Urgench was destroyed and re-built seven times.

    Several outstanding architectural monuments mainly from the 11th to 16th centuries have been preserved like the II Arslan Mausoleum (picture 4), the Tekesh Khorezmshakh mausoleum (picture 2), the Turabek-khanum Kala (picture 3), the fortress Kyrk Molla (picture 5) and the Gutlug Timur minaret (picture 1).

    In 2005 Konye Urgench became an UNESCO World Heritage site because:
    the tradition of architecture expressed in the design and craftsmanship of Kunya-Urgench has been influential in the wider region to the south and southwest i.e. in Iran and Afghanistan, and later in the architecture of the Mogul Empire (India, 16th century). Kunya-Urgench provides an exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition (the Islamic culture of the Khorezm) and is unique in its state of preservation.

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    Konye Urgench, Turebek Khanum complex

    by sachara Updated Sep 22, 2008

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    The Turebek Khanum Mausoleum (picture 1), named after the wife of the Urgench governor Kutlug Timur is considered to be the most beautiful building in Central Asia. The Turebek Khanum complex dates back to the end of the 12th century, beginning of the 13th century. Some archaeologists don't consider it to be a mausoleum, but a throne hall.

    You enter the building by a high portal of 25 meter (picture 2). After passing the nicily carved doors (picture 3), you enter the big hall. Here you see a marvellous blue cupola, unique in early Islamic architecture (picture 4).

    Underside the dome are 365 sections on the mosaic, representing the days of the year. The 24 arches under the dome represent the hours of the day, the 12 bigger arches below represent the months of the year and the 4 big windows finally represent the weeks in the month. So all the geometirc patters in the building form a giant calendar.

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    The Five Tribes with Five rugs

    by Ekahau Updated Jul 16, 2006

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    The Five type of carpet patters from the five areas.

    The Yomut (Yomud) in this picture made by the people just like the man in the intro. This Yomud is typical for the group. It has fantastic all vegetable dyes of very individualistic hues. The background is a rich light red plum color. I got this one from a small village marget and was told that a Turkmen girl produce one as a dowry weavings for her marriage. It was sold to me by the grand dauther of the maker

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    Arsary

    by Ekahau Updated Jul 16, 2006

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    Arsary sometimes miscalled (Ersary) are one of the five Major Turkmen tribes in Turkmenistan and like the other tribes have their own style of carpet the others are tribes are Teke, Yomut, Chowdur, Salyr. The Arsary are the Turkmen tribe that inhabit the Lebap District of Turkmenistan which is in far northeast of the country, near Uzbekistan. Its capital of Lebap was Charjew when I went to this area but it is now Turkmenabat named after the leader of Turkmenistan. It has a few hundred thousand people and it is a really great place to really get away from the tourist Crowd.

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    Oldest Turkmen Carpet

    by Ekahau Updated Jul 16, 2006

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    This Carpet in the national museum is from 400 BC and is the oldest Turkmen -- beautiful would you not say.

    Carpet Museum

    This museum has a large, impressive collection of antique carpets and also the largest Turkmen carpet in the world. The director: Tuvakbibi Kurbanovna Durdyeva is very helpful in explaining all about carpets.

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    Ashgabat, Kipchak mosque

    by sachara Written Nov 24, 2008

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    In Ashgabat you will find one of the largest mosques in Central Asia. This Kipchak mosque, also called 'Turkmenbashi Ruhy Metjidi', is a rather new mosque, built in 2001 by the president Niyazov. 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.

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    Konye Urgench: signs of rich history

    by Bonobo2005 Updated May 17, 2003

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    A thousand years ago, Konye (Old) Urgench was an important oasis on the Silk Road, bigger than Samarkand. Although the ancient town was sacked several times, a few remains still can be admired.

    On the serene, atmospeheric site, full of graves and tombs, well maintained paths leads you around the monuments while signs tell you about their history.

    The minaret is most striking, built around 1300 by Jenghiz Khan's followers, and is the highest in Central Asia, but it's in bad condition and badly repaired.

    Only few other structures, mainly mausoleums, survived Timur. It's an interesting walk if you imagine what was here so many years ago!

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    Karakum Desert: traversing by Lada

    by Bonobo2005 Updated May 16, 2003

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    From Konye Urgench we travelled to Dashoguz, a major city ca. 103 km away, where we chartered a beautiful old Lada for $30 for the 580km/12 hr ride through the desert to the capital Ashgabat

    Fortunately the tight road was sealed all the way and only covered by sand sometimes. Although it's one of the hottest deserts in the world, the heat is bearable thanks to very low humidity.

    Part of the road crosses some stunningly shaped sand dunes while other parts are flat sand or dunes with some low scrub.
    No horses, cows or sheep here for food and milk but camels.

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    Karakum Desert: small oasis along the road

    by Bonobo2005 Updated May 16, 2003

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    It's very weird to find some villages along the road in such a barren and dry area. The villagers cater mainly for travellers, serving kebabs and tea and selling petrol..

    The Turkmens, who live here in yurts, were very friendly and welcoming as we found shelter to have some lunch and shade in the heat of the day.

    If you want to stay here for the night you should have no problems finding a host, but don't forget to bring a gift!

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