Ashgabat Museum © Ibrahim
The capital and largest city in Turkmenistan,
Ashgabat, has grown from a Russian village founded in 1881 to a
metropolis of around one million people. Poking up out of the
desert like a mirage of white marble, it's one of the most
photogenic cities in the world.
Some of its more memorable structures include the
Ertugrul Gazi Mosque, the Alem Entertainment Center with its Ferris
wheel, and the Constitution Monument. However, all are dwarfed by
the 692-foot (211m) Turkmenistan Tower and its distinctive blue
star facade which can be seen from anywhere in the city.
The best view of Ashgabat can be had from the
Turkmenbashi Cableway, a cable car that climbs up more than 4,200
feet (1,280m). Another popular attraction in Ashgabat is the city's
theme park, World of Turkmenbashi Tales.
Designed to be a national version of Disneyland, the
park is based on Turkmen folk art and fairy tales and is a great
place to enjoy thrilling rides and learn about local culture and
history. There are also some excellent museums, including the
Turkmen Carpet Museum, the National Museum, the Museum of Fine
Arts, and the Museum of Turkmen National Values.
Despite its stately appearance, Ashgabat is a lively
city and visitors will find a wealth of markets, theatres,
restaurants, and shopping centres. Largely ignored by tourists,
visitors will find a warm welcome and an unforgettable