Tag Archives: Ashgabat

More About Nisa

Today very little remains of the wall of the city that had 43 towers that enclosed the palace and temple. When Alexander the Great died in Babylon in 323 BC his central Asian empire fragmented. Parthia was part of the Seleucid empire however a local rebellion in 245 established the Parthian kingdom which established its capital in Nisa. During the next several centuries Parthia was on of the largest empires. In 65 BC they were at war with Rome and they defeated the Roman army however from then on their empire weakened with conflicts with nomadic tribes on their northern border. In 224 AD the Sassanid king Ardashir defeated the Parthian king.

The language of the Parthians was Aramaic. Over 200 ostraka were discovered with inscriptions. The museum houses the artifacts excavated at Nisa.

Read about the Parthians.



You can see the Greek influences on this Asian empire.
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This is ivory from India.

These are rhytons. (Click to enlarge the pictures and the signage).
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Ashgabat and Anau

This morning was spent at the Tolkuchka Bazaar. Until recently it was held on the sand and considered one of the largest markets in central Asia. Now it is housed in several immense outdoor pavilions and does not hold much interest for tourists since it in words of my guide: “it is no longer oriental.” However i wanted to go to see how locals purchase goods at a good price.

You can purchase animals such as sheep, goats, camels and cows.




On my drive into the city the colorful headscarves worn by women in long dresses caught my attention. My guide said that these are worn by married women. Young girls attend school in long green dresses and young women attend university in long red dresses. Boys and young men are in uniform as well.


There is jewelry in abundance.


These are the hats the boys wear.

These are the hats the boys wear.

Even though the market has little tourist appeal, it is colorful.

My guide explains the symbolism of the Turkmenistan carpet.

My guide explains the symbolism of the Turkmenistan carpet.

Turkmanbashi, the first president had this mausoleum built which now contains his tomb and those of his family as well. As with all construction during his long presidency white marble and gold are the dominate motif.

Next to the mausoleum is the largest mosque in central asia. Each minaret is 91 meters commenorating 1991 independance from the USSR. Not only are there quotes from the Koran but there are also quotes from the president’s book inscribed on the walls of the mosque.


The wooden doors are from Morocco.



Turkmen-043055The site of the Anau was already inhabited in the 4th to 3rd millenium BC. This photo gives you an idea of what the mosque looked like before the 1948 earthquake.

The original Jemmalatdin as very curious in that the mosaic decoration above the entrance had two enormous dragons facings each other. This pictorial representation that violates Islamic artistic canons show the influence of Chinese motifs on this mosque of the silk road.

What remains of the mosque today




Muslims come here to prayer and make offerings so their petitions are answered by the holy men buried there. For example, baby clothes are left by those seekimg children

Or houses built for those seeking new houses.

People come to make offerings and walk around the tomb three times in hope their request will be anwsered.

More on the Unique City of Ashgabat

The city bears the artistic signature of the first president. All the buildings are of white italian marble and gold. The National Museum houses many ancient artifacts recovered on digs.

The central atrium of the Museum.

Monuments in marble and gold abound. This is the Arch of Neutrality and on top of a 12 meter high statue of the first president, Niyasov. The polished gold statue used to revolve to follow the sun.

This is Independence Square.

Turkmen2-041602The architecture defies description. Marble and gold buildings, wide boulevards and extravagant water features are everywhere. Marble apartments are everywhere and construction is everywhere as well.

Not only do the buildings glisten in the sun, they are illuminated with colored lights which change through the night. The cube shaped building is the wedding palace. One guide said the city is nicknamed Las Vegas.


This is one of the new hotels built for the asian Olympics across from the stadium. Then the hotel turns pink while the stadium changes colors. This is a far cry from the drab days of the Soviets.

Turkmen2-035039There is even a new hotel nicknamed the Dubai Hotel. My driver said it looks like a drop of water then another guide said it looks like a teardrop across from the wedding palace which dominates the cityscape.

Miles and miles of marble and gold and colored illumination gove the city a uniqueness. My guide said they made the Guiness Book of Records. Ashgabat is one of a kind.

More photos: http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2013/06/the-city-of-white-marble-ashgabat-turkmenistan/100528/