Best things to do in Ashgabat
Find out more about those top places in Ashgabat
When it comes to exciting and interesting sights, Turkmenistan is unrivaled. This also applies to Ashgabat, its capital and largest city – with its rapid development owning to the country’s discovery of oil, this is one capital that has transformed from relatively unknown to one of the top city’s in central Asia.
Ashgabat is known for its white marble buildings and countless monuments; the city still has fragments from the era of the late President Saparmurat Niyazov who declared himself “President of Life” in its totalitarian rule.
Popularly called as the “tripod”, the Arch of Neutrality was the symbol of Ashgabat during the totalitarian rule of then President Saparmurat Niyazov. Built to commemorate the country’s position on neutrality, the monuments stand at a height of 912 ft (277.98 m), with a rotating gold statue of Niyazov crowning it. After the death of Niyazov, his successor President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow facilitated the dismantling of the arch and it's exiling to the city’s outskirts. Although the statue on top the monument no longer rotates, it has a lift that takes visitors to the top for a decent view of the city.
Established in 2014, the Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex known as the People’s Memory, is a large complex built to honor those that died in battle during World War II and to commemorate the victims of the Ashgabat earthquake of 1984. The complex consists of three monuments (each representing different significant events) and a museum. The first monument Ruhy Tagzym is dedicated to the 1948 Ashgabat victims, the second Monument Baky Sohrat is for the patriots of the Great Patriotic War and the last one is the Monument Milletin ogullary dedicated to the heroes of other battles for Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan is well-known for its love of carpets - the Carpet Museum established in 1994, features the largest collection of Turkmen carpets that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. It has carpets from medieval times to modern types, with different shapes, sizes and colors. It famous attraction is the Guinness book of records largest carpet (14 by 21.2 meters) made in 2001 to mark the 10-year anniversary of the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.
The National Museum is a combination of the country’s former museums (ethnography, history, nature and presidential). With 7 exhibition halls, it has over 5000 items displayed, including weapons, musical instruments, paintings, sculptures and ancient Turkmen rugs and carpets. The Hall of Independence and Hall of Ancient History are a must see.
Take a trip down Nisa, to get an insight on ancient Turkmenistan. Now in “ruins”, Nisa was first inhabited by the Iranian people and was said to be the royal residence of the Parthian kings. The former trading hub was destroyed by an earthquake but several excavations has shown what the settlement looked like in the past. The best way to visit Nisa is to go with a guide that has good knowledge about Nisa’s history.