The sights of Turkmenistan

Merv

Merv oasis (40 km. to the east from Mary) is one of the most ancient regions of Central Asia, which mastered an irrigation system related to the period of Bronze Age. Therefore it is not surprising that Merv (Margush, Margiana, Mouru or Maru in different sources) grew here as one of the largest city in ancient world. The origin of Merv is covered by mystery. The only one fact is clear - the first written references about its appearance are in Avesta chronicles of approximately VIII-VI c.c. B.C. Omar Khayam, As-Samani, Imamad-din-Isfaxani and other great persons of middle ages lived and created here.

Contemporary ruins include more than five ancient settlements: Erk-Kala, Gyaur-Kala, Sultan-Kala, Abdulla-Khan-Kala and Bayram-Aly-Khan-Kala, surrounded by wall and ruins of other fortification and cult constructions (precise boundaries of city are not known until now). Majority of them are destroyed and only earthen hills remained. But even taking into account this moment Merv continues to remain as one of the most unique monuments of history. During our days it is introduced into the list of UNESCO world heritage as the most well preserved ancient center of the Great Silk Road.

The most interesting monuments of history are: 40 meters high mausoleum of Sultan-Sanjar-Dar-al-Akhir (1140 A.D.), Sultan-Kala, Shazriar-Ark citadel, wall remains of Abdulla-Khan-Kala (XV c.), ruins of fortress and towers of Bayaramali-Khan-Kala, ruins of Kyz-Kala fortress (VI-VII c. AD.), mausoleum al-Khakim-ibn-Amir-al-Djafari and Burayd-ibn-Hussein-al-Islami (XV c.) place of pilgrimage, Muxammad-ibn-Zeyd mausoleum (XII c.), Talkhatan-Baba complex with the mausoleums of Talkhatan-Baba, Imam Kasim, Imam Shafi and Imam Bakr of the epoch of the Seldjuks, Yusuf Khamadani mosque (XIII c., reconstructed in XIX c.), Erk-Kala fortress ruins (VI c.), ruins of Christian temple and Buddhist monastery in Gjaur-Kala (ancient Antioch Margiana), ruins of Beni Makhan mosque (Friday mosque, VII-XII c.c.), high walls of similar fortress construction of Big and Small Kyzyl-Kala, Kyz-Bibi mausoleum and also numerous remains of baths, palaces, ceremonial halls and other constructions.

There are also the mausoleum of Dandankhan and Talkhatan-Baba mosques (XII century, at 30 kilometre's distance from South-east of Merv), keshk (fortified house) Akuyli-Koushuk (IX-XIII centuries), Kharam-Keshk fortress situated at 7 kilometers to the North of Gyaur-Kala (IX-XIII centuries), Durnali fortification situated at 25 kilometers to the North of Gyaur-Kala (I-II centuries), Gebekly fortification situated at 32 kilometers to the north-west of Gjaur-Kala. Today, many archaeological findings which were discovered during excavations of ancient towns are exposed in excellent Historical Museum of Merv.

Architectural reserve

Kunya Urgench is known for its magnificent monuments of the XIII-XIV centuries. No one knows when Kunya-Urgench was founded. During the recent excavations the contours of the powerful ancient fortress belonging to the VI-VII centuries BC. were revealed.

In 712 after the capture of Khorezm by the Arabs Kunya-Urgench was given the Arabic name Dzhurdaniya or Gurgandzh. Because of its location on the path of the main trade routes from north to south and from west to the Volga River, as well as in Eastern Mongolia and China, the city became prosperous very quickly. It became the second largest city in Central Asia after Bukhara. Many outstanding monuments of this period were kept.

The main remarkable sights of Kunya-Urgench are: the mausoleum of the founder of the Sufi sect "kubra" of Nadzhimetdin Kubra (XII-XIII centuries), the mausoleum of the Mongol princess Torebeg Khanum(Turabekhanum, XII-XIV centuries), the minaret of Mamun (X-XI centuries AD.) Kutlug Timur minaret (XII-XIV centuries, the highest minaret in Central Asia - its height today is 67 m), the mausoleum Kyrkmolla (II century BC. - III century in AD.) Ibn Hadzhyba madrasah (XIV-XVI centuries), the mausoleum of Arslan II (the oldest building in the town - the date of its laying is roughly estimated by the XI century), Mausoleum of Fakhr ad-Din Razi (XIII century), Azizan al-Ramatani (XIII-XIV centuries ), Seyd Ahmeda (XII-XIV centuries), Piryarveli (XIV-XVII centuries), Guligerdan (XII century) , Horezimbag (XIII-XVIII centuries.) Dashgala (XIV-XVI centuries), Matkarim-Ishan (XIX-XX centuries), Sultan Ali (1580), Tekesh-Horezmshah (XIII century), with the minaret of XIV, Dashmedzhet (1903-1908) and the fortress Ak-Kala (Akgala, I-XIII centuries).

Ancient Dekhistan

Dekhistan (another name – Mashad Misrian) – ancient town in Balkan region ofTurkmenistan. Dekhistan was found at the end of the III century B.C. and blossomed out during the governing of the dynasty of the Khorezmshakhs; it was destroyed by the Mongols, then it again revived. Dekhistan existed approximately till the XIV century A.D. Dekhistan is considered the most important medieval oasis in the southwestern part of Turkmenistan.

The whole area of the town was about 200 ha., and the double ring of the walls defended it. Many ruins of different constructions that reached till our days indicate its former greatness. As many towns of this epoch, Dekhistan was divided at well- reinforced “shakhristan” with the citadel and “rabat”. The famous mausoleum Shir-Kabir, two minarets of 25 meters high, portal of the mosque, remains of adobe clay town blocks, ruins of caravanserais and the mausoleum on the necropolis Mashad remained. Some caravanserais, situated around the settlement behind the fortress wall, mean the location of several town gates, which point the direction of caravan routes from the town.

There was also a madrassah, unique among famous one in Turkmenistan, which refers to the premongolian period. The distinguishing characteristic of the settlement is the abundance of the faience products with ornamental and topical painting. Bronze kettles, lamps, other metal products with art handling, glass products were also found. The high level of development of town culture in Dekhistan points at its improvement. It is known, that there were systems of water supply and sewerage, baths, pavements and etc.

Today the town is almost destroyed, and the majority of its constructions are covered with sands of deserts, but in view of the fact that the famous poem of Firdousi “Shakhname” was written here, the town is of great historical and cultural value. Highly developed fortification, art advantages, operating techniques and number of monumental monuments of Dekhistan put this provincial region in one row with such capital centers of town life of medieval as Merv and Gurgandj.

The National museum of Turkmen carpet

The national museum of Turkmen carpet was created in Ashkhabad by presidential decree in 1993.The museum was opened in order to recreate and preserve the national traditions of Turkmen carpet-weaving and also for carpet popularization of Turkmenistan.

It was designed for the collection of the best samples of carpet art,study,restoration and farther development of a manual carpet-weaving.Now the.Now the museum has up to 8000 different exhibits,the smallest carpet is 0,01 sq.metre and that which is considered as the biggest one in the world is 301 sq.metre,entered the Guiness Book of Records in 2003. There are also silk carpets in the museum which were woven by skilled craftsmen 3-4 centuries ago.

The National museum of Turkmen carpet is one of the cultural centers in Turkmenistan.In addition to the above-mentioned the museum has rarities of woven carpets.It is not only an exhibition of carpets but also the biggest hall restoration of ancient samples in the country.

Gas crater Darvaza

Gas crater Darvaza is located in Karakum desert, in the north-west of Turkmenistan. The diameter of the crater - 60 meters, depth - 20 meters. Local people call it “The door to Hell” or “Gate of Hell”.

The accumulation of underground gas was discovered by the Soviet scientists in the village Darwaza in 1971. During the excavations, geologists found an underground cavern (empty), because of it the land failed and there was a large abyss filled with gas. It was decided to set fire in order to avoid harmful gas for human and animals. Accordance to the hypothesis of geologists, the fire had to go out in a few days, strangely enough, but they were wrong. Since then natural gas has been burning without ceasing. Thousand of insects come here to the light and heat, but they are doomed. The distance to nearest village Erbent is 90 kilometre.

Arriving in this amazing place in the early morning, you can enjoy the beautiful spectacle of desert illuminated by a bright light and burning crater surrounded by orange light. You have to be extremely careful, as the smell of natural gas and the heat is felt very strongly here, so stay here for a long time is not recommended.

There are two craters if similar origin not far from the crater Darwaza, however, the pressure of the gas is not as strong, so they do not burn. One of these craters is filled with liquid of brightcolor, the bottom of the other - light gray.

Old and New Nisa

One of the most famous archeological monuments - Old and New Nisa are in a few kilometers from Turkmenistan. The study of this ancient city was begun at the last century by archaeologists from different countries. The distance of two separated cities is one and a half kilometers. Old Nisa is translated as Konenusay and New Nisa – Tyazenusay.

Unlike New Nisa, which was full-fledged city until XIX century, Old Nisa stopped its existence long ago. During the excavations of Old Nisa, were found many artifacts of ancient civilization, what cannot be said about New Nisa. The city walls of Old Nisa built of mud brick, which was a traditional building material in Central Asia. Ancient walls of the city were destroyed because of archeological excavations and precipitation. Many people are wondered the meaning of the word “Nisa”. According to medieval geographer Samani, it is a word of Arabic origin, means "woman". There is a legend that says about Arabs who wanted to conquer Central Asia, but they changed their mind after learning that only women live in the city. Modern linguist decipher this word as "a convenient place to settle".

The ancient cities Old and New Nisa are interesting and historical monuments which attract tourists from different countries. In addition, in 2007 this architectural monument was included to the list of world heritage of UNESCO.