Top Sights Near to Ashgabat
Sights and leisure activities
Turkmenistan has so far been isolated from all major tourist flows. The number of foreigners is currently so low that (short-term) visitors only rarely come across other tourists by chance during their stay. Due to this (tourist) remoteness, the country’s sights are hardly known so far. Accordingly, Turkmenistan is one of the few countries where visitors get the feeling of being real pioneers, explorers in the truest sense. This feeling is all the more remarkable given that the country has a whole range of remarkable sights to offer. On the other hand, the low level of development in the country poses at least some unusual challenges for individual visitors traveling (for example with a transit visa).
This section serves to present the sights and the possibilities for leisure activities for short and long-term visitors and to offer some possible solutions for the specific Turkmenistan challenges.
In 1884, with the conquest of the fortress of Geok-Tepe, the Turkmenistan units were finally defeated in the battle against the Russian conquerors. The fortress was razed immediately after the conquest. In addition to the remains of the fortress wall, only a small mound about 1.2 km north of the Saparmurat Hajj Mosque testifies to the former bulwark .
The imposing mosque itself can be visited at any time. Like most other new buildings of this type, however, the Saparmurat Hajj Mosque is rarely visited by believers. The airy interior offers a welcome relaxation from the sometimes barely bearable outside temperatures, especially in summer. Photography is only permitted inside on request. The offense can be severely punished.
This remarkably spacious cave at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains is located about 1 1/4 to 2 hours (100 km) west of Ashgabat (coordinates: 38 ° 18 ‘3.48 “N 57) (depending on the athletic ambitions of the driver) ° 31 ‘5.72 “E) near the village of Bakharden. The junction to the asphalt driveway is signposted from the main road. The main attraction of the 230m long, 60m wide and 20m high cave is a lake fed by warm springs. This is located about 65m below the entrance. A (partly illuminated) Stairs lead down. Although of considerable size, the lake is more suitable for relaxed bathing than for long swimming laps. The reason for this is not so much the slightly putrid sulfur smell (a consequence of the mineral and metallic components of the water) than the water and air temperature of around 33 to 37 °C. A simple rest stop at the cave entrance offers Schaschlyk and soft drinks. While Turkmens only pay a symbolic entrance fee, foreigners (depending on the inspector and negotiating skills) can expect a price of one to 15 dollars (or euros).
According to thenailmythology, the birthplace of the country’s first president is about 15 kilometers west of Ashgabat. The most striking building in Kipchak is the Turkmenbashi Memorial Mosque, which was completed in 2004 and, with 20,000 prayer places, is also the largest mosque in Central Asia. With a diameter of 50 meters, the gold-plated dome is 60 meters high. Both the (purely symbolic) minarets and the interior of the mosque itself are decorated with excerpts from the book Ruchnama written by Niyazov.
In the immediate vicinity of the mosque is the mausoleum of the Niyazov family. Next to the president are the (symbolic) graves of his brothers and parents.
Photography inside the mosque and mausoleum is not permitted. Infringements after appropriate information from the guardians can be punished with the (at least temporary) withdrawal of the photo equipment. Accordingly, the recordings shown below were taken with the permission of the guards.
The nearby recreational park of Kipchak consists essentially of a square lined with young trees, in the middle of which one of the few remaining gilded statues of Niyazov can be found. The original residents of these urban areas were expropriated for the construction of the boulevard leading to the park and for the park itself and were relocated to the outskirts.
Just a few kilometers away the model settlement of Ruhabat can be visited on the way back to Ashgabat. An oversized shopping center, which is only used for delegation receptions, was built here in typical neo-Turkmenistan architecture. As long as there are no delegation visits, the rooms within the shopping center are mostly empty. Some stores that are permanently set up remain sealed. Next to the shopping center is the opera house, also clad with marble panels. Performances take place on the occasion of visits by delegations and, as far as is known, are not open to the public. Next to the opera house is the also very large town hall. A modern school and two marble-clad apartment complexes follow the street.
On the occasion of the reception of foreign delegations in Ashgabat, Ruhabat is often presented as a typical Turkmenistan settlement. For this purpose, residents of surrounding settlements are brought to Ruhabat in order to fill the new buildings, which are completely oversized for the size of the village, with life. Large-format banners hung between the new buildings on such occasions block the delegation’s view of the housing estate behind. As long as there are no delegation visits taking place or being prepared, the guards and watchdogs on site are happy to offer the visitor (for a tip) tours of the opera house, the shopping center and the school. The town hall is currently not allowed to be visited.