The history of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, began after 1881, when the Russian Empire occupied Turkiston. The Russians built a fortification near a small village whose name meant « beloved city » (Askhabad). Later, through this locality the Central Asian Railway passed. The city, which lay at the crossroads of trade routes, grew and spread. For some time the town was called Poltoratsk. In 1927, one letter in the old name was changed and it was renamed Ashgabat.
It acquired its modern look during the recovery period after the earthquake of 1948. The following powerful impulse of transfiguration of the capital began in 1991 after independence.
In 1994, in the city not far from the city center a new airport named after Saparmurat Turkmenbashi was opened. The international airport connected Ashgabat with all capitals and major cities of the world.
All of the most notable landmarksof the city are associated with the names of the presidents of Turkmenistan. In 1998, the famous French construction company built the Presidential Palace for Saparmurat Niyazov, a 45-meter three-story building of white marble, crowned with a gilded dome. In the interior decoration marble and noble wood were used. In 2008, the same company was entrusted with the construction of a luxurious residence for the second Turkmenbashi – Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The cost of the construction and design works exceeded 250 million dollars. The palace complex of Oguzkhan by its greatness and beauty overshadows the residence of the first president located next to it.
In the year of the beginning of the second millennium in the capital a grand Independence Monument opened. It is a white hemisphere, above which rises a marble column of 118 meters high. At the top is a gilt crescent and Five Stars. An alley with monuments of national heroes leads to the construction. At the end of it, at the foot of the Monument there is a large golden figure of President Niyazov.
In Ashgabat they like structures which amaze by their height and monumentality. A favorite material here is a white marble and gilt. The Monument of the Constitution wasn’t an exception. On the 10-meter pedestal, decorated with staircases and fountains, there is a construction in the shape of the octagonal star of Oguz Khan. Further a 185-meter four-sided stele, on each side of which there are 5 types of flowery carpet patterns, is raised. The number 5 is not accidental. It symbolizes the union of the five local nomadic tribes.
The arch of Neutrality and the Memorial to victims of the quake are also worth seeing. Very informative will be a visit to the Museum of Turkmen Carpet.
More sites of this great city are located at a distance of 15 kms from the center. Firstly, it is the ancient ruins of the Parthian fortress Nisa that existed here even before this era. Secondly, Türkmenbaşy Ruhy Mosque, built in the village of Kipchak, the homeland of President Niyazov. The grand marble structure has four 80-meter minarets and a striking grand and scale.