Ashgabat is the largest city and capital of the Turkmen land, located near the border with Iran and has a population of nearly seven hundred thousand inhabitants. Razed to the ground for the first time in the first century AD, the city-then a mere village-was rebuilt a little at a time, as a major center along the Silk Road; repeatedly invaded, conquered and destroyed in the course of history by various populations (including the Mongols, around the thirteenth century), to see the city acquire a significant role it was not until the nineteenth century, when under Russian rule was quickly transformed from a small village to the capital of the region as a frontier town.
The night between 5 and 6 October 1948, however, a terrible earthquake in the ninth on the Richter scale razed to the ground literally killing over a hundred thousand people, it was rebuilt in Soviet-style, but today, thanks to money from the sale gas and oil, the capital is experiencing a time of economic boom and its architectural profile is constantly changing.
Please note that street names have been replaced in recent years of the life of President Niyazov of numbers, which has helped to make even more chaotic orientation of tourists in the city in virtue of the fact that since the street names already changed in the transition period between the Soviet and independence in the nineties, the same path can be specified with three different names depending on the case.
Because of senseless phobias of the rulers, there is the possibility that upon entry into Turkmenistan is assigned an official guide to foreigners, which could obviously affect the independence of the trip, we also noted that in the main hotels of the city, as well as in places frequented by tourists, there are devices for eavesdropping (commonly called bugs, to be clear …). For these reasons it is always better to be careful what you say and where it says, it seems incredible, but this is the reality.
Among the various quirks of this country there are the prices of most museums, which, though very beautiful, can touch these exorbitant prices to discourage the visit, there are still pockets of attractions within reach of all, if not free. We also meet a number of statues of former President Niyazov, “the father of all Turkmens”, obsessed with the cult of personality. As it will be eliminated in a short time, as the sober style of the new president, who visitasse Ashgabat before its removal, could still see the huge – and a little however absurd – golden statue of the former president who turns on following the same 360° rotation of the sun, standing on top of the equally unlikely Arch of Neutrality.
In the downtown area also stands the golden dome of the Palace of Turkmenbashi on the Independence Square, as well as other government buildings (parliament Majlis-said-and some ministries). The Monument to the earthquake, where Niyazov appears again-this time in childish version-hiding at the base of the Earthquake Museum, visited free of charge.
Later, continuing along the avenue, an eternal flame burns in the Soviet Monument to the Fallen, while still further on is the ‘University of Magtymguly. Also in the central area of the city is also reminiscent of the Carpet Museum, the Fine Arts and a strange statue of Lenin, just off the old seat of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan. Moving into the area east of the center there is the Azadi Mosque, while the futuristic Iranian Mosque lit with green neon stands on the western outskirts of the capital.
In the new and somewhat artificial Berzengi district, in addition to shopping centers to hotels and international, you can see the Monument to Independence of Turkmenistan (also known by the unenviable name of “plungers”, for obvious aesthetic reasons) or the dearest Museum of Turkmen Values. Going further south, is home to the Palace of Knowledge, among other things, the Museum of Turkmenbashi, which displays all the prizes and gifts received by Niyazov personages of great international prestige.
Abandoning this surreal world, you can get in touch with the traditional face of Ashgabat in the spectacular Tolkuchka Bazaar, a huge market on the outskirts of the city where you can bargain and buy just about anything, from jewelry to camels, from fruit to accessories for the home through the men’s suits. The highlight of the bazaar, however, trade in carpets, it should be noted, however, require a certificate to leave the country. The market is open Saturdays and Sundays as well as partially on Thursday. Lastly, take the funicular to the Turkmenbashi, which stops the city is the base of the Kopet Dag-near the National Museum-and that can get up to an altitude of 1293 meters to enjoy an exceptional view of the capital and the surrounding desert.
Ashgabat is connected by direct flights with intermediate stops, or is the major Asian cities and to some of the major European cities such as Frankfurt, London, Moscow and Istanbul. For domestic flights, please note that due to some government subsidies, ticket prices are very low and for this reason you should book well in advance. The city, after recent government investments, is now well served (while not guaranteeing the utmost punctuality), even from a fair number of modern Chinese trains that cross the national rail network as an alternative, buses, taxis marshrutka and connect it to main towns of the country.
Originally posted 2012-07-26 16:04:57.