Located in Central Asia Turkmenistan is bordered by the Caspian Sea and a great part of it is covered by the Karakum Desert. It lies along the ancient trade route the Silk Road.
The capital Ashgabat is the largest city and is located between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag Mountain range. It was rebuilt in the Soviet style in the mid-20s.
The National Museum sits in front of the Kopet Dag. It is actually a combination of three museums = the History Museum, the Nature & Ethnographic Museum and the Presidential Museum.
The Ancient History Hall has displays of Neolithic tools from western Turkmenistan and relics from the Bronze Age Margiana civilization including lovely amulets, seal cups and cult items. The Antiquity Hall also has many impressive displays.
You’ll be amazed by the Arch of Neutrality which was built to celebrate the endorsement of Turkmenbashi’s policy of neutrality in 1998.
Above the arch you can see a 12m-high gold statue of Niyazov (former leader of Turkmenistan). The statue was created to follow the sun throughout the day. Today it no longer revolves.
The large and modern Carpet Museum has a white marble facade. The highlight here is the world’s largest hand-woven rug. The “expert commission” has carpets valued and taxed and give the necessary documents for export.
The Museum of Fine Arts is housed in an impressive building with a big rotunda and two tiers. They display a collection of impressive Soviet-Turkmen artwork. On display is also a collection of Russian and Western European paintings and a fine selection of Turkmen jewelry and traditional costumes. There are guided tours in English.
In the center of the city you’ll find Independence Square. here visitors can see the gold-domed Palace of Turkmenbashi,
the Ministry of Fairness, the Ministry of Defense
and the Ruhyyet Palace.
Behind the square you can see the Earthquake Memorial, in bronze, depicting a bull and child and the Earthquake Museum.
Then there is the Soviet War Memorial with an eternal flame
and finally the Magtymguly State University which is the country’s leading educational institution.
The Earthquake Museum can be found beneath the Earthquake Memorial. Here visitors can see photos of pre-1948 earthquakes and find information of the clean-up effort and the building of a new city.
The Statue of Lenin is found in a small park. The statue sits upon a huge Central Asian style plinth surrounded by fountains.
Behind the statue you’ll see the modern Magtymguly Theater where you can see Turkmen performances.
The Altyn Asyr Shopping Center was built in a pyramid shape. It is found at the southern end of Independence Square and supposedly the biggest fountain in the world. There is a restaurant which offers great views of the city.
Independence Park offers visitors
the Monument to the Independence of Turkmenistan. It is a popular spot to take wedding photos with a golden statue of Turkmenbashi.
Nearby is a giant copy of the Ruhnama or Book of the Soul.
At the southern end of Independence Park you’ll see the huge Palace of Knowledge with a golden dome which consists of three buildings that include a library, conert hall and the Turkmenbashi Museum. The museum houses all of the gifts and awards presented to former Presiden Niyazov.
The Marriage Palace is a civil registry palace.
Visitors are impressed with the Azadi Mosque.
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