Situated between the Karakum Desert and Kopet Dag mountain range, Ashgabat is the capital and the largest city of Turkmenistan. The appearance of the modern city is both luxurious and flamboyant and the entire city seems to be painted with white. Ashgabat is unusually beautiful which many find strange, weird, and eerily empty.
The city’s name Ashgabat have Persian origin, The Persian word “eshg” which means love and “abad”, translated as populated, well-maintained come together and form “Ashgabat”. To date, Ashgabat is not just the capital of Turkmenistan, but also the largest industrial, scientific and cultural centre of the country. A city tour to Ashgabat will make things clearer about its enigmatic looks and beauty than this article.
History Of Ashgabat As A City
A relatively young city as compared to the other major cities in Central Asia, it was founded only in 1881 as a fortification and named after a nearby settlement which went by the name of Askhabad. Ashgabat grew on the ruins of the now-defunct city of Konjikala which was levelled by an earthquake that struck the region in the 1st Century BC. But because of its advantageous location, it was rebuilt and it flourished before being invaded and destroyed again by the Mongols.
Ashgabat was ceded to the Russian Empire who developed its infrastructure as it was close to the border of British-influenced Persia. Numerous European style buildings, shops, and hotels were constructed in the city by the Russian which took it far away from the usual Islamic influenced look that adorns the Central Asian cities. Soviet rule was established in December 1917, and in 1919 the city got renamed to Poltoratsk. After the formation of the Turkmen SSR in 1924, Poltoratsk was named its capital. The name of the city was restored back to Ashgabat in 1927.
Turkmenistan gained independence in 1991 and since has been ruled in isolation and secrecy. Ashgabat enjoys funding of billions of dollars towards the development of its infrastructure where there are most number of white marble-clad buildings in the world — a Guinness Book World Record in itself.
Things To Do In Ashgabat
Ashgabat which seemingly is draped with white cloth boasts of some of the most magnificent architectures in Central Asia that are in stark contrast with the rugged, sandy mountains of Kopet Dag that surround it. Some of these are:
- Alem Entertainment Center
- Construction Monument
- Serdar Health Path
- Ashgabat Tele Radio Center
- Monument to Neutrality
The City Also Boasts Of Many Magnificent Mosques, Some Of Which Are :
- Gypjak Mosque
- Hezreti Osman Mosque
- ErtugrulGazi Mosque
- Geokdepe (A sacred site)
- SeyitJemaletdin Mosque
Other Sightseeing Places In Ashgabat Are :
- Russian Orthodox Church
- Turkmen Museum of Fine Arts
- Ashgabat National Museum of History
- Parthian Settlement of Nisa (Ancient ruins)
- Turkmen Carpet Museum
Ashgabat has many parks and squares where you can walk leisurely. The most notables are Botanical Garden, Gunes, Turkmen-Turkish friendship, and Independence square. A park by the same name, Ashgabat, is city’s oldest park founded in 1887. All in all, an Ashgabat day tour will offer you a lot of things to see and it’s up to you to consume it all.