By: The PH Team
Turkmenistan, once part of the Soviet Union, is a secretive State in Central Asia compared by many to North Korea.
The country, often referred to as 'Central Asia's Hermit Kingdom,' is known for its secretive nature, permanent neutrality, authoritarian style of governance and its incredible history along the ancient Silk Road.
Today, the country is one of the least-visited in the world and is a hidden-gem for all types of travellers looking for an authentic and unique experience.
Ashgabat, formerly named Poltoratsk between 1919 and 1927, is the capital and the largest city of Turkmenistan. It is situated between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range in Central Asia.
The city was founded in 1881, and made the capital of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) in 1924. Much of the city was destroyed by the 1948 Ashgabat earthquake but later rebuilt in typical Soviet-style.
However, since the independence of Turkmenistan from the Soviet Union, the city has since been extensively rebuilt under the leadership of former President Saparmurat Niyazov’s (Turkmenbashy).
It was dubbed the “White City” urban renewal project which created the famous skyline of white marble buildings and national monuments in his name.
The Soviet-era Karakum Canal runs through the city, carrying waters from the Amu Darya from east to west.
With only 15,000 tourists annually, the country and capital city is one of the least-visited in the world and is a hidden-gem for all types of travellers looking for an authentic and unique experience.
Ashgabat itself is more like a museum than a city. The city was rebuilt by former leader and eternal President of Turkmenistan, Turkmenbashy. It is known for its array of white marble buildings and grandiose national monuments, including many of Turkmenbashy (Niyazov) himself.
Major sites in Ashgabat include; the Turkmen Fine Arts Museum and Turkmen Carpet Museum, noted for their impressive collection of woven carpets as well as a Turkmen history museum and the Ashgabat National Museum of History, which displays artifacts dating back to the Parthian and Persian civilizations.
In addition, The Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan is an important institute of higher learning. In 2011 a Monument to the Constitution was built, its total height of 185m makes it the second tallest building in Turkmenistan. The city is home to many more incredible statues and national monuments which are must-sees for all tourists.
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