Ashgabat (Turkmen: Aşgabat, also Ashkabat, Ashkhabad, Ashgabad, etc.) is the capital of Turkmenistan, surrounded by Ahal Province. It was designed as to be an impressive capital city, filled with monumental projects sheathed in costly white marble.
Ashgabat's historical appellation is "The City of Love" but nowadays its modern nickname, "The City of White Marble" will seem vastly more appropriate. Saparmurat Niyazov, the president of Turkmenistan from 1985 to 2006, transformed the city from a relatively drab Soviet capital to a city of pure white marble buildings, many containing some rather overbearing symbolism (the Ministry of World Affairs building is a perfect illustration). 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.
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- 1 Ashgabat International Airport (ASB IATA). As of April 2018 flight: Belavia - Minsk; China Southern Airlines - Ürümqi; Flydubai - Dubai; Lufthansa - Baku, Frankfurt; S7 Airlines - Moscow; Turkish Airlines - Istanbul; Turkmenistan Airlines - Abu Dhabi, Almaty, Amritsar, Balkanabat, Bangkok, Beijing, Birmingham, Daşoguz, Delhi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Kazan, London–Heathrow, Mary, Minsk, Moscow, Paris (CDG), Saint Petersburg, Türkmenabat, Turkmenbashi, Yerevan
Trains leave Turkmenbashi every second day at 19:30 and arrive in Ashgabat at 05:20 next morning or daily at 16:05, arriving in Ashgabat at 05:50 next morning. Prices from Ashgabat to Turkmenbashi or Mary vary from 18 to 25 manat in a sleeper train.
Trains leave Turkmenabad at 18:00 and Mary at 00:25 daily and arrive in Ashgabat at 08:20 next morning, Another train leaves Turkmenabad at 21:55 and Mary at 02:50 every second day, arriving in Ashgabat at 09:35 next morning. There is a day train leaving Turkmenabad at 04:20 and Mary at 10:23, arriving in Ashgabat at 18:35.
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.
"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 US$2 per person. 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 0.50 manat. 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.
- 1 National Museum, Archabil sayoli 30 (in front of the Kopet Dag), ☏ . 09:00-17:00. 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, camera US$1.
- 2 Museum of Fine Arts (west of the Palace of Justice), ☏ . W-M 09:00-18:00. 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.
- 3 Turkmen Carpet Museum, 5 Georogly köcesi, ☏ . M-F 10:00-13:00, 14:00-18:00. 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 m² 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 m² and was woven by 40 carpet makers on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence. 12,000 manat.
- 4 Museum of Turkmen National Values (inside the Independence Monument), ☏ . Daily 09:00-12:30, 14:00-17:30. 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, 25,000 manat for photographs.
- 5 Oguzhan Palace, Galkynysh St. Presidential palace of Turkmenistan. It was the site of Saparmurat Niyazov's home prior to his death and then a new palace was built. Photography is not really allowed.
- 6 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 Georogly, the 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.
- 7 Ashgabat Flagpole (in front of the National Museum). The former tallest freestanding flagpole in the world, and at a height of 133 metres (436 feet) still one of the tallest.
- 8 Inspiration Park. A corridor filled with fountains and statues of historical figures, mostly from circa 1000 AD.
- 9 Wedding Palace, ☏ . Austere wedding venue that looks like something out of a geometry book.
- 10 Neutrality Monument, Archabil Hwy. Though the country did profess a stature of neutrality, it's a somewhat ironic name because it's essentially a love monument Niyazov created of himself, now moved to the present location after his death.
- 11 Constitution Monument, Archabil Hwy. Second tallest structure in Turkmenistan, with a museum and cafeteria inside.
- 12 Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex. A memorial park to lives lost in the Battle of Geok Tepe in 1881, by which Russia essentially gained control over the Turkomens, World War II, and the 1948 Ashgabat earthquake, which practically leveled the city.
- 13 Turkmenbashy Ruhy Mosque and Turkmenbashi Mausoleum. Ashgabat's premier mosque but also the resting place of former President Saparmurat Niyazov.
- 14 Ertugrul Gazi Mosque. A large mosque that was a gift from Turkey. Some say it is cursed due to several deaths during its construction.
- 15 Tolkuchka Bazaar (8 km north of Ashgabad, past the airport). Sa Su 08:00-14:00. One of Central Asia's most colourful bazaars,
- 16 Turkmenbashi Cableway, Kopet Dag (south of the National Museum). 09:00-22:00. Cable car, opened in 2006, climbing up to 1290 meters, offering spectacular views over the city with the desert in the background 1000 manat.
- 17 Jeitun archaeological site (about 30 km north of Ashgabat on a sand dune in the Kara Kum Desert). Jeitun is one of the oldest archaeological sites in Turkmenistan. The settlement dates back to the 7th century BC and is considered as the first proof of agriculture in Central Asia. The excavations at Jeitun show that the Neolithic revolution in Central Asia took place almost simultaneously with similar developments in Western Asia. Jeitun was excavated from 1957 onwards by the Russian archaeologist V.M.vMasson. Jeitun covers an area of about 5,000 m². It consists of free-standing houses of a uniform ground plan. The houses were rectangular and had a large fireplace on one side, a niche facing it, and adjacent yard areas. The floors were covered with lime plaster. The buildings were made of cylindrical clay blocks about 70 cm long and 20 cm thick. The clay was mixed with finely chopped straw. The settlement consisted of 30 to 35 single room houses. Each house is considered as home for 5 to 6 people. 160-200 people could live here at the same time. They formed a tribal settlement and their economy seems to have been communal, not individual. The people of the Jeitun culture were growing barley and two sorts of wheat, which were harvested with wooden or bone knives or sickles with stone blades. At Jeitun blades were found in every house. It can be assumed that almost the entire population participated in farming. The settlement of Jeitun was built of houses of one room only with an area of 15-30 m². Each house had only one fireplace, it was designed for a single family and not for collective meals. The same layout designed for a nuclear family has been found in other settlements of Western Asia as well. The fact that the Neolithic settlements consisted of about 30 houses one room reveals the tendency of the nuclear families to form larger units because of the economic necessity that arose from partial use of irrigation. The society of Jeitun was thus formed of nuclear families living in kinship settlements that formed small tribes.
- Mollanepes Drama Theatre, Magtymguly sayoli 79, ☏ . W-Sa 19:00. US$0.25.
- Magtymguly Theatre, Shevchenko köcesi, ☏ . F-Su 19:00. Turkmen musical performances
- Pushkin Russian Theatre, Magtymguly sayoli 142, ☏ . Sa Su 19:00. US$0.25.
Amusement Centers and Diversions
- 1 World of Turkmenbashi Tales, Garaşsyzlyk şaýoly. An amusement park centered around Turkmenbashi lore, with a magic carpet ride featuring Turkomen carpets.
- 2 Alem Center. Alem meaning universe, the site boasts another record-setter for the city, as it supposedly holds the world's tallest Ferris wheel in an enclosed space.
- 3 Ashgabat Botanical Garden (on Turkmen Agricultural University campus). Said to have around 500 botanical species from around the world set in different climate zones, but may only be partly open due to reconstruction (May 2022).
- 4 Aşgabat Golf klub binasy, ☏ . Daily 09:00-22:00. A golf course that the 2nd president of Turkmenistan summoned Jack Nicklaus to build for his enjoyment in spite of economic hardship in the city.
- 5 Asghabat Zoo (next to the international hippodrome). Tu-Su 09:00-18:00. Includes some interesting animals like camels and donkeys suited to life in the Karakum Desert and the Turkomen dog.
- 1 Berkarar, Ataturk St 80 (opposite Sport Hotel/Olympic Stadium), ☏ . Daily 09:00-22:00. A very plush and classy mall with ornate escalators; ice rink; 3rd floor mezzanine restaurants with Uzbek, Turkmen, European food; movie theater; and atrium.
- Tolkuchka Bazaar: 8 km north of Ashgabad, past the airport, Sa Su 08:00 to 14:00, also Th morning at a smaller scale. Buy a telpek (sheepskin) for US$10-15, a khalat (red and yellow striped robe for men) for US$15 or a typical red carpet for US$150-250. Be aware that you also need an export certificate, which you can get at the 'expert commission' behind the Carpet Museum, Görogly köcesi 5.
- 2 Hemdem Haly (inside Oguzkent Hotel), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-20:00, Su 10:00-20:00. Carpet shop (don't forget to get your export permit at the carpet museum).
- 3 State Shopping Center Gulistan (Russian Bazaar), 2011 street, Azadi Street 72 (opposite Grand Turkmen Hotel), ☏ . Daily 08:00-20:00. Central universal market: fruit, vegetables, handcrafts, clothing.
- 1 Hezzet Restaurant, Oguzhan Street 5/7, ☏ . Daily 10:00-23:00. Authentic Turkmen food that you can eat seated on the ground in a yurt, or at a table, stuff like shashlik.
- 2 AlpEt Steakhouse, Rd of 9th Km (next to Hotel Ashgabat), ☏ . Daily 08:00-23:00. Have the steak, or just some coffee.
- Altyn Jam, Magtymgily sayoli 101, ☏ . European dishes and sweets.
- City Pub, Alisher Navoi 54a Köçesi.
- 1 Divan Hotel (formerly Hotel Nissa), Galkynysh St 70, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Apparently owned by family of Saparmurat Niyazov, this is a four-star hotel with air conditioning, swimming pool, pool bar, sauna, Turkish sauna, gym, jacuzzi. This is about the "best" quality hotel you'll find in Ashgabat (think somewhat run-down and a bit overpriced for its features), about a 10-minute walk from the war memorial and book shop. The restaurant has decent Italian food. Expect to come across lots of foreign workers, and women of dubious persuasion at the hotel bar. Some English is, however, spoken.
- 2 Archabil Hotel (formerly Hotel President), Arçabil şaýoly 54, ☏ , fax: , . Very skyscraper-like. $161 (May 2022).
- 3 Grand Turkmen Hotel (Гостиница "Грант Туркмен Отель"), ul. Georogly 7 (ул. Героглы, 7), 744000 Ашхабад, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- 4 Hotel Ak Altyn, Magtumguly ave 141/1, ☏ , , fax: , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Visa accepted (MasterCard is not). Contains offices of the British Embassy and American Information Centre, so it's a good place to stay if you find yourself needing assistance. Supposed to have Wi-Fi but is so slow it's effectively useless, internet available in telecom building less than a block away though. US$75 per night.
- 5 Hotel Ahal, Arçabil şaýoly 35, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- 6 Hotel Nebitchi, Arçabil şaýoly 29, ☏ , fax: .
- 7 Yyldyz Hotel, 2002/5 (Bagtyyarlyk), 17, ☏ . Something akin to the Burj Al Arab, as if not to be outdone by the Emiratis, only there's no sea nearby to sail away. A panoramic restaurant sits on the 18th floor.
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. (Ssd: Wireless; username: white; password: city)
- Aeroflot, Turkmenistan Söwda merkazi, Magtymguly sayoli 73, ☏ .
- British Airways, Grand Turkmen Hotel, Görogly köcesi 71, ☏ .
- Lufthansa, http://www.lufthansa.com (Main concourse, Saparmurat Turkmenbash Airport), ☏ , .
- Pakistan InternationalAirlines, Magtymguly sayoli 71, ☏ .
- Turkish Airlines, Magtymguly sayoli 73, ☏ , .
- Turkmenistan Airlines, Magtymguly sayoli 82, ☏ , .
- Uzbekistan Havo Yullari/Uzbekistan Airways, Main Concourse, Saparmurat Turkmenbashi Airport, ☏ .
- Belavia, st. 2028 (Govshudova) 50/2, 4th Floor, ☏ .
Dial 01 for the fire brigade, 02 for police, 03 for ambulance. Be aware that the operators will speak Turkmen and Russian only.
Embassies and consulates
- Afghanistan, Garashsyzlyk köcesi, Berzengi, ☏ , fax: . M-F 09:00-17:00.
- Armenia, Ingenernaya köcesi 37, ☏ , , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10:00-12:00.
- Azerbaijan, 2062 köcesi 44, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. M-F 09:00-13:00, 14:00-18:00.
- Belarus, Maxim Gorki köcesi 81, ☏ , fax: . Tu-F 15:00-18:00.
- China, Kuvvat Hotel, Berzengi, ☏ , fax: . Tu-F 15:00-18:00.
- France, Ak ALtyn Hotel, third floor, ☏ , , fax: . M-F 09:00-13:00, 15:00-17:00.
- 1 Georgia, Azadi köcesi 139a, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-18:00.
- Germany, Al Alty Hotel, first floor, Magtumguly Avenue, ☏ , , fax: , email@example.com. M-F 09:00-12:00.
- India, Emeryal Business Center, 1 Yunus Emre köcesi, mir 2/1, ☏ , fax: .
- Iran, Tehran köcesi 3, ☏ , fax: . M-F 08:30-12:00.
- Italy, Azadi köcesi 139/A, ☏ .
- Japan, Paytagi Offic Building, Parahat District, ☏ , fax: .
- Kazakhstan, Garaszylik sayoli 11-13, International Ustay Compound, Berzengi, ☏ , fax: . Tu Th F 09:00-12:00, 17:00-18:00.
- Kyrgyzstan, Görogly köcesi 14, ☏ . M-F 10:00-12:00, 16:00-18:00.
- Netherlands, Tehran köcesi 17, ☏ , fax: . M-F 09:00-18:00.
- Pakistan, Garashszlyk köcesi 4/1, ☏ , , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-12:00.
- Poland, Azadi köcesi 14, ☏ , fax: .
- Romania, Str. Myati Kosayew 122, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- Russia, Turkmenbashi sayoli 11, ☏ , , fax: , Emb_Rus@online.tm.
- Saudi Arabia, Emperyal Business Center, Yunus Emre köcesi 1, ☏ , fax: .
- Tajikistan, Gorgoly köcesi 14, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-13:00, 15:00-17:00.
- Turkey, Shevchenko köcesi 9, ☏ , fax: , Askabat.email@example.com.
- Ukraine, Azadi köcesi 49, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- United Arab Emirates, Kalifa center, Turkembashi sayoli 124, ☏ , fax: .
- United Kingdom, Ak Altyn Hotel third floor, ☏ , , . M-F 09:00-17:00.
- United States, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- Uzbekistan, Turkmenbashy sayoli 124, ☏ , fax: . M W F 10:00-13:00.
- Central Hospital, Emre köcesi 1, ☏ or ☏ . Foreigners have to pay for their medical treatment.
- International Medical Center, Berzegi, ☏ or ☏ .
- Lechebnii Hospital, Shevchenko sayoli, ☏ .
- Dr.Arslan Nepesow, Turkembashi köcesi 124, ☏ .
- OVIR (State Service for the Registration of Foreign Citizens), 2011 köcesi 57, ☏ , 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00. All persons entering Turkmenistan on a tourist or business visa have to register within three working days. You need three passport photos and your entry card. In most cases the tour operator that invited you will organise this for you. Persons holding transit visa are not required to register.
- Nissa, 15 km west of Ashgabat, settlement dating back to the 2nd cent BC
- Geok Depe, 50 km west of Ashgabat, site of the final battle between troops of Turkmen and tsarist troops in 1881/84, Saparmurat Hags Mosque, erected by President Turkmenbashi
- Bakharden, 100 km West of Ashgabat, near the Kopet Dag mountains, cave with the Köw Ata Lake with hot thermal water, however, smelling of sulphur, a favorite place for excursion for people of Ashgabat at weekends.
- Nokhur, 150 km from Ashgabar in South Western Turkmenistan in the valleys of the Kopet Dag mountains. The people of Nokhur claim to be direct descendants of Macedonian warriors of Alexander the Great's times,
- Anau, 15 km south east of Ashgabat
- Altyn Depe is a settlement of the Eneolithic and Bronze Ages. It has been extensively excavated during the Soviet period. The settlement has specialised potter's quarters, evidence of a differentiation of the living quarters according to the wealth of their inhabitants and a monumental cult complex. During excavations a small golden head of a wolf and a bull were found. According to the Russian archaeologist V.M. Masson, the cult complex was dedicated to the Moon Good as in Mesopotamia. The site was abandoned in the middle of the second millennium BC.
Train 24 to Turkmenbashi leaves Ashgabat every second day at 20:40 and arrives at Turkmenbashi at 06:55 next morning. Train 606 leaves Ashgabat daily at 20:10, arriving in Turkmenbashi at 09:15 next morning.
Trains to Turkmenabat and Mary leave Ashabat at 07:40 daily, arriving at Mary at 17:00 and at Turkmenabat at 23:00. Train 195 leaves Ashabat daily at 17:20 and arrives at Turkmenabat at 07:35 next morning. Train 21 leaves Ashabat every second day at 22:10, and arrives at Mary at 05:25 and at Turkmenabat at 09:40 next morning.
Ashgabat is probably the best place to hire someone to take you to Darvaza. The trip requires going off-road and is probably best not left to you average Lada.