Ashgabat (population more than 600,000), formerly Ashkhabad, the capital and the largest city of Turkmenistan, lies in the southwestern part of the country. Ashgabat is situated in the middle part of the foothill plain Kopetdag in an oasis near the Karakum Desert. The city developed around a Russian fortress built in 1881 at the crossroads of caravan routes; major growth began when it became a station on the Trans-Caspian Railroad in 1885. In 1948 the city was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake.

The city served as the capital of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic from 1924 until 1991, when Turkmenistan became an independent republic.

Sightseeing and excursions

Ashgabat City tour 01-Half-day

Arch of Neutrality was built in 1998. The height of the Arch was 75 meters and is the highest construction in Turkmenistan. On the top of the Arch is the golden statue of the Ex President of Turkmenistan Saparmurad Niyazov, which rotates per 24 hours. It cost $12 million to construct. The three-legged arch is topped by a 12-meters (39-ft) tall gold-plated statue of Niyazov which rotates to always face the sun. On 18 January 2010 president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, signed a decree to begin work on dismantling and moving the arch. Berdimuhamedow has said that he will replace the arch with a 95-meters (312-ft) tall monument to neutrality which will be located in the suburbs. The president has appointed Turkish construction firm to carry out the demolition of the arch and the construction of the new monument. The demolition supposed to begin in March 2010 and the new monument expected to be constructed by 2011.

The arch is still there, but some works will start there soon.

Lenin Square with the statue of Lenin, which was built in 1927.

Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevsky was built at the end of 19th century. After the Bolshevik Revolution was used as a storehouse, but has recently been returned to the Christians.

Ertogrulgazi Mosque is one of the biggest mosques in Turkmenistan with 4 minarets and a huge dome. It was built in 1998.

Carpet Museum has a large collection of antique carpets, some dating back to the 17th century. There are also two giant carpets made in Turkmenistan: 192 square meters and 266 square meters. Each of them weights about one ton.

Ashgabat City tour 02 – Half-day

Visit the “Tolkuchka” (from the Russian word tolkat – to push), the Sunday Bazaar. It is said whatever you want is sold at the Tolkuchka and the selection is far wider, and the prices far lower than at any other stores in Turkmenistan.

Ashgabat City tour 03 – Full-day

National Museum of History and Ethnography has a rich collection of ancient artifacts from Turkmenistan. More than 500,000 exhibits are displayed here in 9 halls. The highlight of the museum is a collection of ivory rhytons, discovered during the excavations at the Old Nissa, residence of Parthian kings from the Arshakid Dynasty.

The Archaeological site of Nissa includes the remains of Old and New Nissa. The city was an important centre of the Parthian State, which existed from the 3rd century BC up to the 3rd century AD. As the archaeological research shows, the township of New Nissa was the centre of the Parthian City. It was inhabited up to the 16th – 17th centuries. Old Nissa was a royal residence of the Parthian kings with the palace and temple, the depositories and the treasury.
During the archaeological excavations about 2700 texts inscribed with black paint on the clay vessels fragments were discovered. The written language used in Nissa is of the Aramaic origin, dating back to the 2nd century BC.

Around Ashgabat tour 04 – Full day

Bronze Age Site and Anau Mosque. Anau was the medieval city situated 12 kilometres to the southeast of Ashgabat. This site includes the remains of the Bronze Age settlement Anau-Depe (4th – 3rd millennium BC) and the fortress of Anau (3rd century BC – 3rd century AD). The name Anau derives from Abi-Nau, meaning “new water”.