Best attractions in Turkmenistan: Top 15

Turkmenistan is one of the few countries with a vast tourist potential, which has not yet been fully disclosed. The mysterious country, unlike its famous Asian neighbors, once followed its own special, authentic path. However, those who wish to get acquainted with Turkmenistan will discover completely new sides of the country, and the historical and natural sights of Turkmenistan will fill the impression. Large-scale historical actions were unfolding on the lands of this country, whole civilizations were developing and collapsing, so this region conceals a lot of historical secrets and interesting findings. This is a confirmation that there are many historical monuments, ancient constructions and other exciting, interesting places to see in Turkmenistan.

What to see first in Turkmenistan

Guests of Turkmenistan arrive in this state for different periods: someone is planning a large-scale trip and close acquaintance with the customs and culture of the country, someone is looking for what to see in Turkmenistan in 1 day. Anyway, every tourist will find it useful to know what famous sights lurk in the rich lands of Turkmenistan in order to compose a rich itinerary of a trip.

1. Karakum Desert

The Karakum Desert Landscape David Stanley

The Karakum Desert, known to everyone, which occupies most of the country’s territory, opens the ranking. It is one of the largest deserts in the world, a realm of sand and drought. The climate here is harsh, the inter-seasonal temperature difference is more than 90 degrees, but surprisingly, about one seventh of the population still lives in the Karakum desert, adapting to the unfriendly conditions of the desert.

2. The ancient city of Nisa

Ruins of the Ancient City of Nisa David Stanley

Just a few kilometers from Ashgabat, guides in Turkmenistan will guide you through the famous ruins of the ancient city of Nisa, the former capital of the Parthian state that existed at the turn of the millennium BC and AD. Once, in the old part of the city was concentrated mass of palaces and temple buildings, as well as a treasury, warehouses with huge stocks of wine and provisions. The walls of the fortresses were built in good faith, their thickness was 8-9 meters, thanks to which the remains of ancient constructions have survived to this day.

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3. Ancient City of Merv

Ancient City of Merv Hergit

The review continues with an ancient city whose history goes even further back in the depths of thousands of years. It is the oldest city of Merv in Central Asia dating back to the era of the Moorish civilization at the turn of the 3rd and 2nd millennium B.C. It is also one of the largest archeological sites in Central Asia, with a number of preserved sites on its territory where you can read the history of the legendary city from ancient times to the late Middle Ages.

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4. Dehistan

Dehistan - Historical Region of Turkmenistan Laika ac

Among amazing natural places that everyone should visit in Turkmenistan, the Dehistan plain, also called Martian plain, is especially interesting. It was named so for a reason - nowadays, this lifeless, waterless and clay soil has left no trace of fertile land, where once agriculture was successfully carried out from the 2nd millennium B.C. Today all that the plain has left to its descendants are the ruins of the ancient settlement of Misrian, but even by looking at them one can judge how highly cultured and beautiful this ancient settlement was.

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5. Kunya Urgench

Turabek Khanim Mausoleum in the Kunya Urgench Architectural Reserve Dan Lundberg

Tours in Turkmenistan often include a route to a historical and architectural reserve 500 kilometers north of Ashgabat. It is Kunya Urgench, a small town, which keeps the memory of the majestic Urgench, the former capital of Khorezm. Once, trade caravans passed through the town and various kinds of crafts flourished. But bits of its history survived the ordeal of time: twice it was subjected to siege, destruction, but still survived to this day: the many mausoleums, minarets and fortresses of the Middle Ages.

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6. Ruhiyet Palace

Mass celebration in front of Ruhiyet Palace Kerri-Jo Stewart

Turkmenistan’s main landmarks are briefly complemented by the Ruhiyet Palace for official events located in Ashgabat. The palace building, built not so long ago - in 1999, has advanced technical equipment and everything necessary for holding various ceremonies at a high international level. Meetings, congresses, forums, inaugurations, as well as informal events - exhibitions, concerts and other celebrations - are held here.

7. Ertogrulgazy Mosque

Portico of the Ertogrulgazy Mosque David Stanley

Once in Ashgabat, you will definitely find somewhere to go in Turkmenistan besides the aforementioned palace. For example, the largest mosque in the city is called Ertogrulgazy. It is also one of the most beautiful mosques of the city decorated in traditional Ottoman style. There is a nice marble road leading to the mosque gates on the sides of which there are fountain bowls in the shape of half of 8-pointed stars. Impressed by the size and design of its courtyard, sumptuous painting of the domes inside the temple and spacious inner hall, which can be simultaneously stay up to 5 thousand worshippers.

8. Monument of Independence of Turkmenistan

Fearsome statues of warriors at the Monument of Independence of Turkmenistan Dan Lundberg

The most important state landmark and the tallest structure in Turkmenistan is the Independence Monument, located in Ashgabat in the National Independence Park. It is 118 meters high and has a hemispherical dome at its base with water flowing down its surface from fountains whose nozzles are embedded right in its walls. Through one of the five entrances it is possible to enter the interior of the monument, where the museum is located.

9. Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque

A view of the fountains and the "Turkmenbashi Spirit Mosque" David Stanley

The largest single-domed mosque in Central Asia, according to reviews, is impressive in size - its area is about 18,000 square meters, and inner halls can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers, with the lower hall designed for men and accommodating up to 7,000 people, and

the balconies are for women, with a capacity of up to 3,000 people. The whole structure is built of white marble; the huge painted dome deserves special attention; and besides the main entrance, seven additional entrances lead to the inner halls, in front of which beautiful fountains are placed.

10. Darwaza Gas Crater

Burning Gas Crater Field in Darwaza Tormod Sandtorv

The recommendations of this rating are sure to touch on an amazing find in Turkmenistan - we’re talking about the Darvaz gas crater, 270 kilometers north of Ashgabat. “Gates of hell”, as the locals call the crater, have formed due to geological works at the site of the promising deposit found here. As a result, a cavity formed in the Earth’s crust eventually leaked gas, which the fire was set on fire so as not to poison the people living nearby. But the deposit turned out to be so vast that the gas, which was set on fire in 1971, is still blazing today, offering incredible views of the amazing natural phenomenon.

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Turkmenistan sights: what else to visit in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan sights photo with names and descriptions continues the review for those who are already familiar with all the main sights of Turkmenistan. We will talk about unique and extraordinarily beautiful creations, created by nature itself.

11. Dinosaur Plateau

Dinosaur footprints on the plateau Digital Aesthetica

Not far from the border with Uzbekistan, in the southeast of the country, surrounded by mountain ranges, is a small village called Hodzhapil. About three kilometers from this village one can meet an amazing find - a limestone slab, the length and width of which is 3-4 hundred meters. All its surface is completely trampled by dinosaurs - in total there are about 3 thousand footprints, the main part of which was left by megalosaurs that lived during the Jurassic period, as well as smaller dinosaurs that inhabited the local swamp. Over time, the swamp fossilized and the footprints were immortalized on the surface of the resulting plateau.

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12. Baharden Cave

Baharden Cave Viewpoint sunriseOdyssey

The best sights of Turkmenistan will certainly complement another creation of nature - Baharden Cave, formed due to the impact of hot underground water on the rock. The length of this natural cavity is about 250 meters, the width and height is about 25 meters. Inside there is an underground lake, in the healing hydrogen sulfide waters which you can bathe in. The air inside the cave is very humid, saturated with hydrogen sulfide vapor, and the internal temperature, comfortable to stay, remains unchanged throughout the year.

13. Repetek Reserve

Rare desert predator - caracal (desert lynx)

In 1927, the Repetek Biosphere Reserve was organized on the territory of the Kara-Kum Desert, a place with quite diverse flora and fauna on the background of the lifeless kingdom of sands. The uniqueness of this interesting place has long attracted the attention of scientists, who noted that the Kara-Kum desert ecosystem functions better the higher the air temperature rises, up to 60 degrees. About 30 species of mammals, about 200 species of birds and 125 endemic plants live quite successfully on these territories.

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14. Yangi-Kala Canyon

Yangi-Kala Canyon is a beautiful natural-architectural structure John Pavelka

In the northwestern part of Turkmenistan, you can visit an amazingly beautiful and shaped natural object called the Yangi-Kala Canyon. After driving through a lifeless desert, at one point you find yourself at a precipice, where the ground drops out from under your feet for hundreds of meters. The canyon was once an ancient sea, which has dried up over time, exposing a sea floor dominated by white and red soil rocks. The rains and wind over time “carved” into the bottom of the canyon colorful fanciful hills, or “fiery fortresses”-that is how the name of the canyon is translated.

15. Caspian Sea

The shores of the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan joepyrek

The body of water called the Caspian Sea, in fact, is not a sea - it is the world’s largest undrained lake, located at the junction of Europe and Asia. The salty waters of the Caspian Sea are famous for their healing effects, and the summer temperature is comfortable enough for recreation - not higher than +28 degrees. That is why this is a popular tourist area, and hotels of Turkmenistan, boarding houses, resorts and health resorts, concentrated mainly in the resort area “Avaza”, ready to offer different options for recreation right on the Caspian Sea coast.

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Turkmenistan is the most closed and authentic country on all post-Soviet space. Every year it attracts more and more inquisitive travelers, who are attracted here by dreams of white marble palaces, ancient cities, national shrines and living oases, created by nature itself right in the middle of lifeless dunes of endless desert.