Gateway to Hell in Turkmenistan

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1 Darvaza Flaming CraterTurkmenistan is well-known around the world for its famous Gateway to Hell near the town of Darvaza. The Darvaza Flaming Crater was caused by an oil rig that struck a large pocket of natural gas back in 1971 and it is still burning today. Tourists usually camp in this area and it is really hot.
Turkmenistan is largely covered by the mysterious Karakum desert. The desert lies east of the Caspian Sea with the Kyzyl Kum desert and the Amu Darya River to the northeast. The Aral Sea lies north and the dropping of the sea keeps on expanding the size of the desert.
The country is bordered by Uzbekistan to the northeast and east, Iran to the south and southwest, Afghanistan to the southeast and Kazakhstan to the northwest. The Kopet Dagi Mountains form the border to Iran. The Kugitang is the highest mountain in the country. Turkmenistan is divided into five provinces, namely Mary Province to the southeast, Lebap Province to the east, Dashoguz Province to the north, Balkan to the west and Ahal Province in central Turkmenistan.
Explore the Capital of Turkmenistan
2 AshgabatAshgabat is located in the Ahal Province and lies between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag Mountain. Eight kilometers north of the city, past the airport, you will find the busy Tolkuchka Bazaar where you can buy almost everything, including the typical red carpets with geometric patterns, sheepskin and red and yellow striped robes (khalat) for men. You can also visit the Carpet Shop at Görogly köcesi 5 and the Carpet Museum east of the shop. Opposite the Grand Turkmen Hotel you will find the Gulistan Market. This is a must see. The bazaar sells mostly beautiful Russian handcrafts and clothing, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Bahá’í Faith is the oldest House of Worship in Turkmenistan and the fist temple in the world. In 1963 an earthquake damaged the foundations of the temple and the House was torn down. The temple’s doors are now the entrance of the Art Museum at Alishera Navoi köçesi 88. The museum houses a collection of Russian and Western European paintings, traditional costumes and Turkmen jewelry.

Turkmenistan Tower

Turkmenistan Tower

Ashgabat is divided into the districts of Chandybil, Bagtyyarlayk, Kopetdag, Berkararlyk and Archabil. The tallest and most notable structure in Ashgabat is the Ashgabat Flagpole standing at 436 feet tall. The tallest tower in the country is the Turkmenistan Tower featuring the world’s largest octagonal Star of Oguzkhan.
Ensure to visit the Turkmen State Circus, Turkmen State Puppet Theater, The State Russian Drama Theater and the Main Drama Theater. You can also visit the art and park complex in the center of town. Inspiration Valley is a great place to wander around and view artwork from local artists. The World of Turkmenbashi Tales is definitely also worth a visit.
The Ashgabat Fountain, built in 2008, is the main symbol of the city. The sculptural ensemble of the fountain depicts the six sons of Oguz Khan. The six sons were lord of the sea – Deniz Khan; lord of the mountains – Dag Khan; lord of the heaven – Gök Khan; lord of the stars – Yildiz Khan; lord of the sun – Gün Khan and Lord of the moon – Ay Khan. The fountain symbolizes the peacefulness of the country’s inhabitants.
The Serdar Health Path

The Serdar Health Path

To the south of Ashgabat and winding into the hills, is an eight-kilometer health path. The Serdar Health Path was built in the year 2000 and features prominently in the country’s annual health week. The concrete stepped path is a popular place for summer evening strolling. Serdar Health Path boasts street lights, an artificial waterfall, golden-domed pavilions and manicured lawns. The entrance of the park features a large stone ball rotating atop a fountain. The highest point of the path is marked by a large Turkmen flag.
Other Tourist Attractions in Turkmenistan
Other great cities to visit in Turkmenistan are Balkanabat, Turkmenbashi (Caspian port), Mary, Türkmenabat and Daşoguz. Most of these cities are along the historic Silk Road. Mary is located in a big oasis in the middle of the Kara Kum Desert and is also the place where the mother of Jesus was buried. Mary was buried in Kerait tradition. Despite all the changes over the centuries, Mary preserved its Oriental character.
Türkmenabat is located on the banks of the Amu Darya River in the center of the eastern part of the country. Kugitang Reserve at the southeast of the city is home to rare species of plants and animals. You can visit the Mausoleum of Astana-baba and the Mausoleum of Allamberdar, an eleventh-century monument of architecture. Located near the entrance of Türkmenabat you can find the settlement of Amul.
Kow Ata Sulfur Lake

Kow Ata Sulfur Lake

Kow Ata is a popular underground sulfur lake located approximately an hour from Ashgabat. The cave is about twenty meters high and 200 meters long. The temperature of the water is typically between 33 to 37 degrees Celsius.
To explore some of the archaeological site, you can visit the Altin Depe, Nissa (19 kilometers west of the capital), and Jeitun (thirty kilometers north of the capital).
Turkmenistan is home to several Nature Reserves:
• Repetek Nature Reserve in the desert on the road between Türkmenabat and Mary
• Krasnovodsk Nature Reserve on the Caspian Sea south of Turkmenbashi
• Syunt Hasarday Nature Reserve in the mountains south of the Ashgabat
• Quzilqum Nature Reserve along the Amur Darja on the border to Uzbekistan
• Esenguly Nature Reserve on the Caspian Sea near the border to Iran
• Gaplangyr Nature Reserve in the Karakum Desert
• Amur Darja Nature Reserve along the Amur Darja on the border to Uzbekistan and north of Türkmenabat.
• Köpet Dag Nature Reserve located in the mountains near Ashgabat
Darganata Medieval City, Turkmenistan

Darganata Medieval City, Turkmenistan

Other amazing places to visit in Turkmenistan include:
• Astana-baba, fifteen kilometers from Mount Atamurat, country estate of Omar-Kali with mausoleum and mosque
• Dekhistan, historical area in Western Turkestan, big Mashat cemetery, Shir Kabir Mausoleum, ruins of Missirian City
• Ekedeshik, near Tagtabazar, near the Afghanistan border, about 245 km South of Mary, cave settlement with more than 40 rooms, dating back to the Early Middle Ages
• Parau, medieval settlement, Parau-bibi and Parau-ata
• Sarakhs, ancient city with the Mausoleum of Abul-Fazi
• Dayakhaty, near Türkmenabat, caravan serai
• Devkesengala, North West of Konye Urgench, fortress and mausoleums
• Geok-tepe, place of a bloody battle between Turkmen and Russians in 1881
• Seyitdzhemaledin Mosque, masterpiece of fifteenth century Muslim architecture
• Tasharvat, 38 kilometers West of Balkanabat, big medieval fortress
• Talkhatan-baba, 30 kilometers west of Mary, mausoleum
• Darganata, medieval city, mausoleum
• Konye Urgench remains of the capital of Horezmshah with magnificent architectural monuments
Visa Requirements for Turkmenistan
A letter of invitation is required to apply for a visa. This must be certified by the State Migration Service of Turkmenistan. If you are travelling as a tourist, this can be issued by a travel agency in Turkmenistan.

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