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Ashgabat is the capital and the largest city of Turkmenistan in Central Asia, situated between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range.
Ashgabat's historical appellation is The City of Love but nowadays its modern nickname, The City of White Marble will seem vastly more appropriate. Turkmenbashi, the prior president of Turkmenistan, transformed the city from a relatively drab Soviet capital to a city of pure white marble buildings, many containing some rather overbearing symbolism.
Short of Pyongyang, Ashgabat is probably the best example of what happens when a city gets redesigned according to the vision of exactly one man, and most visitors will find themselves at first awestruck and then severely confused given the sheer similarity of most of the buildings.
|POPULATION :||City: 1,031,992|
|TIME ZONE :||TMT (UTC+5)|
|LANGUAGE :||Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%|
|RELIGION :||Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%|
|AREA :||440 km2 (170 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||219 m (719 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||37°56′N 58°22′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.18% |
• Female: 50.82%
|ETHNIC :||Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6%|
|AREA CODE :||12|
|POSTAL CODE :||744000 - 744040|
|DIALING CODE :||(+993) 12|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Museums 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.
Ashgabat has many parks and open spaces mainly established in the early years of the Independence and well maintained and expanded thereafter. The most important of these parks are: the Botanical Garden, Güneş, Turkmen-Turkish friendship, Independence. The oldest city park - Ashgabat, was founded in 1887.
Both locals and visitors go to Altyn Asyr Bazaar in Choganly, where myriads of items, including traditional fabrics and hand-woven carpets, can be bought. Modern shopping areas are mostly found in central streets, including the modern Turkish mall Ýimpaş and shopping centers Paýtagt and Aşgabat. The local residents like traditional bazaars: Russian bazaar, Teke bazaar, Daşoguz bazaar, Mir bazaar, Jennet bazaar, etc.
Ashgabat is a relatively young city, having been founded in 1881 as a fortification and named after the nearby settlement of Askhabad (lit. beloved city in Turkmen).Located not far from the site of Nisa, the ancient capital of the Parthian Empire, it grew on the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala, first mentioned as a wine-producing village in the 2nd century BC and leveled by an earthquake in the 1st century BC (a precursor of the 1948 Ashgabat earthquake). Konjikala was rebuilt because of its advantageous location on the Silk Road and it flourished until its destruction by Mongols in the 13th century. After that it survived as a small village until Russians took over in the 19th century.
A part of Persia until the Battle of Geok Tepe, Askhabad was ceded to the Russian Empire under the terms of the Akhal Treaty. Russia developed the area as it was close to the border of British-influenced Persia. It was regarded as a pleasant town with European style buildings, shops, and hotels. In 1908, the first Bahá'í House of Worship was built in Askhabat. It was badly damaged in the 1948 earthquake and finally demolished in 1963.
Soviet rule was established in Ashgabat in December 1917. However, in July 1918, a coalition of Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries, and Tsarist former officers of the Imperial Russian Army revolted against the Bolshevik rule emanating from Tashkent and established the Ashkhabad Executive Committee. After receiving some support (but even more promises) from General Malleson, the British withdrew in April 1919 and the Tashkent Soviet resumed control of the city.
In 1919, the city was renamed Poltoratsk (Полторацк), after Pavel Poltoratsky, the Chairman of the Soviet of National Economy of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. When the Turkmen SSR was established in 1924, Poltoratsk became its capital. The original name (in the form of "Ashkhabad") was restored in 1927. From this period onward, the city experienced rapid growth and industrialisation, although severely disrupted by a major earthquake on October 6, 1948. An estimated 7.3 on the Richter scale, the earthquake killed 110-176,000 (2/3 of the population of the city).
In 2013, the city was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's highest concentration of white marble buildings.
Ashgabat has an arid climate with hot, dry summers and cool, short winters.
The average high temperature in July is 38.3 °C (100.9 °F). Nighttimes in the summer are warm, with an average minimum temperature in July of 23.8 °C (75 °F).
The average January high temperature is 8.6 °C (47.5 °F), and the average low temperature is −0.4 °C (31.3 °F).
Snow is infrequent in the area. Annual precipitation is only 201 millimetres (7.91 in); March and April are the wettest months.
|Daily highs (°C)||7||10||15||24||30||36||38||37||32||23||17||10|
|Nightly lows (°C)||-1||0||5||11||16||21||23||21||10||7||5||3|
The principal industries are cotton textiles and metal working. It is a major stop on the Trans-Caspian railway. A large percentage of the employment in Ashgabat is provided by the state institutions; such as the ministries, undersecretariats, and other administrative bodies of the Turkmenistan government. There are also many foreign citizens working as diplomats or clerks in the embassies of their respective countries.
More than 43 large and 128 medium-sized industrial enterprises along with over 1,700 small industrial facilities are located in Ashgabat and its suburbs.The most important are “Ashneftemash”, “Turkmenkabel”, “Turkmenbashi Textile Complex” etc.
Ashgabat is divided into the following districts:
- Archabil (Turkmen: Arçabyl etraby, Арчабильский)
- Berkararlyk (Turkmen: Berkararlyk etraby, Беркарарлыкский)
- Kopetdag (Turkmen: Köpetdag etraby, Копетдагский)
- Bagtyyarlayk (Turkmen: Bagtyýarlyk etraby, Багтырялыкский)
- Chandybil (Turkmen: Çandybil etraby, Чандыбильский)
- Abadan (Turkmen: Abadan etraby, Абаданский)
Ruhabad (Turkmen: Ruhubad etraby, Рухабадский)
Internet cafes are available at some locations around town. Price is 6 TMT per hour. Yimpas Shopping Center Great Turkman Hotel Russian Market Sofitel, aka Oguz Kent, Features free wifi in lobby and bar.
Prices in Ashgabat
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Milk||1 liter||$ 0.90|
|Tomatoes||1 kg||$ 0.70|
|Cheese||0.5 kg||$ 2.00|
|Apples||1 kg||$ 1.50|
|Oranges||1 kg||$ 1.40|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$ 1.50|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$ 5.00|
|Coca-Cola||2 liters||$ 0.90|
|Bread||1 piece||$ 0.40|
|Water||1.5 l||$ 0.45|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$ 20.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$ 38.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$ 60.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$ 8.00|
|Water||0.33 l||$ 0.80|
|Cappuccino||1 cup||$ 2.70|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$ 3.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$ 1.75|
|Coca-Cola||0.33 l||$ 1.25|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$ 8.00|
|Cinema||2 tickets||$ 9.00|
|Gym||1 month||$ 30.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$ 0.09|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$ 7.00|
|Antibiotics||1 pack||$ 5.50|
|Tampons||32 pieces||$ 2.20|
|Deodorant||50 ml.||$ 1.50|
|Shampoo||400 ml.||$ 2.50|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$ 1.60|
|Toothpaste||1 tube||$ 1.50|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$ 55.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$ 70.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$ 50.00|
|Leather shoes||1||$ 60.00|
|Gasoline||1 liter||$ 0.25|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
65 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
167 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
- Turkmenistan Airlines operates international flights from Abu Dhabi/United Arab Emirates on Fri and Sun, from Almaty/Kazakhstan on Sat, from Amritsar/India on Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun, from Birmingham/United Kingdom on Thu, Fri and Sun, from Delhi/India on Sat and Sun, from Dubai/United Arab Emirates on Tue, from Frankfurt/Germanyon Tue, Sat and Sun, from Istanbul/Turkey on Mon, Tue, Wed and Sat, from Kiev/Ukraineon Sat, from London/United Kingdom on Tue and Sat, from Moscow/Russia from Mon to Sat and from Tashkent/Uzbekistanon Tue. International flights are operated by B-737 or B-757 aircraft. (2009)
Turkmenistan Airlines offersdomestic flights from Dashogus (6 flights per day), Mary (3 flights per day), Turkmenabat (5 flights per day) and Turkmenbashi (3 flights per day). (2009)
Turkmenistan Airlines has offices in Moscow, London, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Karachi, Abu Dhabi, Delhi, Bangkok, Almaty, Minsk and Kiev.
- Aerosvit Ukrainian Airlines has two flights per week from Kiev/Ukrainevia Baku/Azerbaijan.
- There is one flight from Tehran/Iran via Mashad/Iran on Thu, operated by Iranian Airlines
- Lufthansa operates flight from Frankfurt/Germany on Tue, Fri and Sat (via Baku/Azerbaijan).
- Turkish Airlines has flights from Istanbul/Turkey leaving Istanbul on Wed, Fri and Sun, arriving in Ashgabat next morning.
- Belavia has flights from Minsk/Belarus
- S7 Airlines has flights from Moscow/Russia
- Uzbekistan airways has flights from Tashkent/Uzbekistan.
- flyDubai has flights from Dubai/UAE
- China Southern Airlines has flights from China
Turkmendemiryollari (Turkmenistan Zeleznice) runs trains to Ashgabat from Turkmenbashi and Turkmenabad via Mary.
Trains leave Turkmenbashi every second day at 7.30 pm and arrive in Ashgabat at 5.20 am next morning or daily at 4.05 pm, arriving in Ashgabat at 5.50 am next morning.
Trains leave Turkmenabad at 6 pm and Mary at 0.25 am daily and arrive in Ashgabat at 8.20 am next morning, Another train leaves Turkmenabad at 9.55 pm and Mary at 2.50 am every second day, arriving in Ashgabat at 9.35 am next morning. There is a day train leaving Turkmenabad at 4.20 am and Mary at 10.23 am, arriving in Ashgabat at 6.35 pm.
Distances to Ashgabat: Almaty in Kazakhstan 2120 km, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan 1870 km, Tashkent in Uzbekistan 1290 km, Samarkand in Uzbekistan 1000 km, Shakrisyabz in Uzbekistan 1100 km, Turkmenabad 590 km, Mary 350 km, Mashhad in Iran 270 km, Dashoguz 650 km.
Transportation - Get Around
"Taxi", by which everyone means hitchhiking is probably the best way to get around Ashgabat. Simply hold out your arm at a downward angle with two fingers extended, and a car (usually a Lada) will stop. Say where you are going. If they nod, get in, otherwise they will go on and you have to wait for the next car. Expect payment to be about $2 per person. Note that hitchhiking is an entirely safe mode of transport in Turkmenistan—everyone uses it.
There are also official taxis which can be easily found in front of the arrivals hall of the airport and close to the railway station. They are safer but more expensive.
Ashgabat has a very extensive and convenient bus system. The main public transport hub is Teke Bazaar. From that place any location within the city or in its environs can be easily reached. In the modern part of the city there are air-conditioned bus stops with detailed maps of routes of every bus line departing from a stop. The cost of a single ride is 0.20 TMT. The price should be paid by every passenger to the basket located close to driver's seat while getting off the bus. Alternatively a multi-ride should be presented to the driver.
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The Yimpas Shopping Center, Turkmenbashi sayoli 75, 9am to 11pm, is the largest modern shopping centre (it is pronounced "Yimpash" and should be known by anyone who stops to give you a lift) and has a western-like supermarket where you can buy all necessary stuff like food, drink, soap, toothbrush, cosmetics etc. Probably the only one in the whole city. The shopping center has a nice food court in the second floor where you can get all kinds of kebabs for reasonable prices. You can also rent pool tables, play table tennis or go bowling there, or use the internet café.
- Tolkuchka Bazaar: 8 km north of Ashgabad, past the airport, Sat, Sun 8am to 2pm, also Thu morning at a smaller scale. Buy a telpek (sheepskin) for US$ 10 to 15, a khalat (red and yellow striped robe for men) for US$ 15 or a typical red carpet for US$ 150 to 250. Be aware that you also need an export certificate, which you can get at the 'expert commission' behind the Carpet Museum, Görogly köcesi 5.
- Carpet Shop, Görogly köcesi 5, east of the Carpet Museum, run by the government.
- Gulistan market (Russian bazaar), ul. M. Kosaev (opposite Grand Turkmen Hotel). 9AM. Centrally located universal market: fruit, vegetables, handcrafts, clothing. 8PM.
- Asuda Nusay, Alishera Navoi Köcesi 54a, . speciality: sturgeon from the Caspian Sea
- Altyn Jam, Magtymgily sayoli 101, . European dishes and sweets
Sights & Landmarks
- Turkmenistan Independence Monument (take bus 16 or 34 from the city center). The most important monument of Ashgabat in located in the southern part of Turkmenistan Independence Park, which covers an area 2 km long and 1 km wide. The area around the Independence Monument contains monuments of famous people of Turkmen history: the founder of the Seljuk dynasty Seljuk Beg, the founder of the Turkmen people Oguz Han, the Turkmen poet Magtymguly, the Seljuk leader Sultan Sanjar, the Turkmen warrior Georoglythe Seljuk rulers Alp Arslan and Malik Shah, the 18th century leader of the Ahal Tekkes Keymir Kor, the poets Zelilli and Sydi, the leader of the White Sheep confederation Uzyn Hasan, the father of the founder of the Ottoman Empire Ertogul Gazy, the Turkmen commander and poet Bairam Han, the poets Molianepes and Mataji, the Turkmen leader Gara Yusup, the Seljuk ruler Togrul Beg, the spiritual leader Gorkut Ata and the poet Kemine.
- Ashgabat Flagpole (in front of the National Museum). The former tallest freestanding flagpole in the world.
- Tolkuchka Bazaar (8 km north of Ashgabad, past the airport). Satt, Sun 8am to 2pm. one of Central Asia's most colourful bazaars,
- Turkmenbashi Cableway, Kopet Dag (south of the National Museum). 9am to 10pm. Cable car, opened in 2006, climbing up to 1290 meters, offering spectacular views over the city with the desert in the background 1000M.
Museums & Galleries
- National Museum, Archabil sayoli 30 (in front of the Kopet Dag), . 9am to 5pm. Hall 1 is dedicated to post-independence Turkmenistan, Hall 2 (upstairs) has a focus on ancient history with exhibits from Bronze Age sites and artefacts from Margiana. Halls 3 shows artefacts found at the Parthian site of Nisa. In Hall 4 a model of the medieval Merv, dioramas from Konye Urgench and Anau and the beautiful Merv vase are exhibited. Hall 5 and 6 display collections of weapons, musical instruments, silver jewellery and female dress. In Hall 7 (downstairs) a 20 m x 13 m carpet is exhibited. US$10, camerra US$1.
- Museum of Fine Arts (west of the Palace of Justice), .Wed to Mon 9am to 6pm. The Central Hall has a large picture of President Niyazov Abundance of the Harvest. In the Independence Hall the heroic figures of the nation (Oguz Han, Togrul Beg, Alp Arslan and the poet Seydi) are shown. The museum also contains a reconstruction of the dragen freeze of the mosque of Arnau and exhibitions of Turkmen paintings before and after 1950. The first floor is devoted to Russian paintings from the 19th century and to European paintings, including minor works by Tiepolo and Poussin. US$ 10.
- Turkmen Carpet Museum, 5 Georogly köcesi, . Mon to Fri 10am to 1pm., 2 to 6 pm. The museum houses antique carpets of the 18th and 19th centuries and modern carpets from all parts of the country. There is a nearly 200 square meters carpet which was intended as curtain of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, but proved too heavy. The pride of the museum is the largest hand-woven carpet in the world, as certified by the Guinness Book of Records. It covers 300 square meters and was woven by 40 carpet makers on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence.12000M.
- Museum of Turkmen National Values (inside the Independence Monument), . 9am to 12,30 pm, 2 to 5,30 pm, daily. In the first floor, the Museum houses displays of silver jewellery for women and horses, and replicas of the golden bull- and wolf-head sculptures from Altyn Depe. US$ 10, 25000M for photographs.
Things to do
- Mollanepes Drama Theatre, Magtymguly sayoli 79, . Wes to Sat 7pm. US$ 0,25.
- Magtymguly Theatre, Shevchenko köcesi, . Fri to Sun 7pm. Turkmen musical performances
- Pushkin Russian Theatre, Magtymguly sayoli 142, . Sat, SUn 7pm. US$ 0,25.
Safety in Ashgabat