View Map

Overview

You'd expect the capital of a reclusive desert nation to be a little odd, and Ashgabat (the City of Love) doesn't disappoint. Residents credit former president Niyazov (Turkmenbashi, or "Father of All Turkmen") for much of the weirdness, including the controversial temporary replacement of street names with an inscrutable four digit code. In recent years the country's huge energy reserves have financed marble ministries, giant fountains and epic monuments, alongside offbeat sights including the Orwellian-sounding Ministry of Fairness and Arch of Neutrality. You'll have to be quick to catch the famously awful 12 meter golden revolving statue ...

You'd expect the capital of a reclusive desert nation to be a little odd, and Ashgabat (the City of Love) doesn't disappoint. Residents credit former president Niyazov (Turkmenbashi, or "Father of All Turkmen") for much of the weirdness, including the controversial temporary replacement of street names with an inscrutable four digit code. In recent years the country's huge energy reserves have financed marble ministries, giant fountains and epic monuments, alongside offbeat sights including the Orwellian-sounding Ministry of Fairness and Arch of Neutrality. You'll have to be quick to catch the famously awful 12 meter golden revolving statue of the former leader; sadly it's slated for imminent removal. Throw in a Las Vegas-style desert strip of opulent hotels, a Disneyland-style theme park dedicated to Turkmen fairytales and a concrete staircase built into the side of a nearby mountain and you get the point. If you're one of the few travelers to make it here, there are many highlights: one of Central Asia's best bazaars, some of the world's best carpets and a deeply hospitable people rank at the top.

Bradley Mayhew
About the Expert

Bradley Mayhew is the author of more than 25 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, including Central Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Jordan, and is coauthor of the Odyssey guide to Uzbekistan.

view full overview

Bradley Mayhew for Triporati

Must See, Do

Save It for Next Time

info

If time is short, save these attractions for a second visit.

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and fall