"Sunsets are proof that endings can be beautiful..."
Day 04: 14 August 2017 (Monday)
Route: Tour of Ashgabat
Hotel: Grand Turkmen Hotel, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
|(Monorail around the Sport Complex)|
|(The venue for the Indoor Asian Game)|
The Monument of Neutrality is a three-legged arch, which became known locally as "The Tripod", to commemorate the country's official position of neutrality. The monument was topped by a 12-metre tall gold-plated statue of Niyazov, the President, which rotated to always face the sun. The statue was illuminated at night. The arch featured a panoramic viewing platform which was a popular attraction for visitors.
|(Three-legged Neutrality Monument)|
|(A popular attraction)|
The Ashgabat National Museum of History contains over 500,000 exhibits particularly archaeological and ethnographical finds throughout the country including rare works of ancient art, paintings, drawings, sculptures, fossils and rare geological finds.
|(The National Museum of History))|
|(The tallest flagpole in Turkmenistan)|
Lunch was at Altyn Cinar Restaurant in one of the shopping mall. After lunch we visited Ertogrul Gazi Mosque and performed our prayers there. Ertuğrul Gazi Mosque was built to honor Ertuğrul, the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. It is a prominent landmark in Ashgabat with its four minarets and a central dome and has a lavish interior decoration with fine stained glass windows. The white marbled building is reminiscent of the Blue Mosque of Istanbul and could accommodates up to 5,000 worshipers at a time.
|(A replica of the Blue Mosque)|
|(The large courtyard inside the mosque)|
|(Chandeliers lighting up the main prayer hall)|
The Independence Monument design was inspired by traditional Turkmen tents and the traditional headgear worn by Turkmen girls. The Monument of Independence is surrounded by green landscaping that encompasses a cascaded pool and 27 heroic statues of Turkmen leaders, centered on a golden statue of President Saparmurat Niyazov.
|(The Independence Monument)|
|(One of the 27 Turkmen statues)|
Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque was built in the home town of President Saparmurat Niyazov. He was buried in the mausoleum in the mosque. The mosque has been at the center of controversy as scriptures from both the Quran and the Ruhnama, Book of Soul, Niyazov's pseudo-spiritual guide to life are built into the walls. It has outraged many Muslims that the Ruhnama is placed as the Koran's equal.
|(A majestic mosque for the leader)|
|(Ruhnama inscriptions on the pillars)|
|(The main prayer hall)|
In the afternoon we visited Akhal-Teke Horse Farm. The Akhal-Teke is a horse breed from Turkmenistan and a national emblem. They have a reputation for speed and endurance, intelligence, and have a distinctive metallic sheen.
|(A golden Akhal-Teke Horse)|
|(Another horse with black metallic sheen)|
Our last visit is to Ancient Nissa, 18 km away from Ashgabat. It is a UNESCO site situated at the crossroads of important commercial and strategic axes. The archaeological remains vividly illustrate the significant interaction of cultural influences from central Asia and from the Mediterranean world. Nissa, the capital of the Parthian Empire is also one of the eight State Historical and Cultural Parks that have been created to protect the most significant sites in Turkmenistan.
|(The mountain range viewed from Nissa)|
|(A long hike to the remains of Nissa)|
|(Exploring the maze-like corridors)|
Tonight we had dinner at the Palace of Happiness. The eleven-story building is a three-tier structure, each side has the form of an eight-pointed star. A cube that towers over large columns forms its upper stage and incorporates a ball - a symbolic planet Earth. The Palace of Happiness is a venue for wedding events.
We stayed another night at Ashgabat Grand Turkmen Hotel in Turkmenistan.
|(Palace of Happiness illuminated in different colors)|
|(Ashgabat, beautiful and colorful at night)|