Things to do in Turkmenistan

The Gates of Hell

A fiery crater has been burning in the Karakum Desert since 1971. The crater was created in 1971 when a Soviet drilling rig accidentally punched into a massive underground natural gas cavern, causing the ground to collapse and the entire drilling rig to fall in.

Location: Darwaza village

Kow Ata Underground Lake

This cavernous swimming spot doubles as a home to the largest known colony of bats in Central Asia. It is located more than 60 m underground with a long metal staircase that leads down into the Bakharden Cave, where the 70 m long lake is located. The hot springs contain a high amount of different salts and minerals.

Location: Gokdepe

Ancient Merv / Kyz Kala Fortress

This famed Silk Road oasis was one of the largest cities in the world before it was destroyed by Mongols. Merv served as the capital of a number empires and kingdoms over the course of its more than 4 000 year long history.

Location: Merv

Yangykala Canyon

It is located in the far west of this often forgotten country, a natural attraction that even few Turkmen have ever seen: the Yangikala Canyon, a windblown landscape of colorful canyons and strange formations that stretches some 25 km across the desert to the Garabogazkol Basin. Once it is was underwater, the floor of an ancient ocean that existed millions of years ago.

Location: Balkanabat R -20 highway

Wedding Palace

The white marble city if Ashgabat, is packed to the borders with strange architecture and puzzling statues. One of the most surreal sights in the city is a government building known as the Wedding Palace, which is topped by a massive, geometrically caged disco ball globe.

Location: Ashgabat

Turkmenbasy Ruhy Mosque

The mosque was built by Saparmurat Niyazov, the first president of Turkmenistan. The walls of the mosque are inscribed with scriptures from not only the Quran but also Ruhnama, Niyazov’s own spiritual guide to life. It is the largest mosque in Central Asia – in 2004. The vast prayer room can hold 10,000 pilgrims, with 7,000 men on the main floor and 3,000 women on the second level. The mausoleum is guarded by soldiers and is rarely open to the public.

Location: Ashgabat

The Walk of Health

The walk was built by Saparmurat Niyazov in order to make c. It is actually two walks, a concrete stairway that runs alongside the treeless Kopet Dag mountains, aimed to improve the health condition of the citizens. The first one has a total length of 8 kilometers, and the other has a total length of 37 kilometers.

Location: Ashgabat

Saparmurat Hajji Mosque

A memorial was built between 1994 and 1995 to commemorate the thousands of Turkmen soldiers and civilians who died in a bloody 1881 battle when Imperial Russia had tried to conquer what is now known as modern – day Turkmenistan a year earlier, launching an attack on the strategically located Goek Tepe fortress, where some 15,000 Turmen soldiers and 5,000 women and children were positioned. The Russians, who were badly outnumbered, poorly managed, and ill-equipped, soon retreated.

Location: Gokdepe

Dekhistan Ruins

A former flourishing trade city eerily juts out of Turkmenistan’s remote Misrian Valley, the site of medieval Dekhistan. Once it was a fertile region that supported some 3,000 years of civilization. Dekhistan is believed to have risen in the late 8th century to early 9th century, and comprised nearly 500 acres of land divided into an old town and trading and residential district. The capital city of Misrian thrived under the Khwarazmian dynasty, and was notably the site of a medieval mosque with two 25 meters minarets, constructed between the 10th and 12th centuries.

Location: Misrian Valley, Turkmenistan

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