25 Ashgabat: The New Life of the Old City

Ashgabat: The New Life of the Old City

Posted on September 26, 2011 by team


Ashgabat is the capital and largest city of Turkmenistan. Now it’s being actively reconstructed. Day by day it becomes more and more modern and beautiful. Let’s take a look at it.

Before the revolution, the city was half-Russian. But even now Russians make up a small part of its population.

Two events caused the city’s changing. The first one is a terrible earthquake happened in 1948 and destroyed almost the whole city. And the second one is the elections of the first president who brought marble buildings and gold palaces into fashion (forcibly). Now the city reminds of those which are located on some distant planets in the Star Wars.

Ashgabat is being built very quickly. This is the picture made last year…

And this one was made just lately. The tower is the monument to the constitution.

New avenues with the same type of massive buildings are actively built.

For some strange reason and to the disappointment of the citizens, community facilities decided to plant conifers (which aren’t peculiar to this type of climate and don’t provide much shade) instead of common plane trees (in fact, the only source of shade and a symbol of the city).

Some people though support this idea saying that it’s very practical because evergreen trees don’t take off leaves and litter streets.

Ministries compete in architecture.

And don’t think of shade either.

Though it’s really important, especially in summer.

That’s why there are such wonderful bus stops in the city, with automatic doors and air conditioners.

Speaking of transportation… The city purchased a new fleet of buses which go like clockwork.

A fare (20 tenges – it’s 2 rubles and about 0.13 dollars) is paid on leaving the bus. Money is put into the box near the driver’s place. Everything’s based on trust.

Taxi cars are also all new.

As well as police cars, most of which are Mercedeses. Note, that Turkmen policemen walk without weapons! Only billies. Crime rate is very low.

The city reminds of a small copy of the United Arab Emirates.

It’s a pity that it gradually approaches mountains which means that most probably they’ll soon become fubar.

A year ago it was possible to look at the city from this observation deck.

The view was awesome but due to security reasons the tower was demolished. Now it’s being restored on the city’s outskirts.

By the way, it’s not only houses which are decorated with marble.

But also pedestrian crossings, which are in fact used very rarely.

Now the city looks more like a huge construction site. As soon as a new area begins to be built, all old houses around are demolished so as not to spoil the view.

But they have their own charm, don’t they? The charm obscure to officials.

Is it possible to see such scenes in new areas? We guess, no.

A piece of Soviet architecture.

The poetics of marble and glass.

The output of the Soviet automobile industry looks quite appropriate in Ashgabat.

Green license plates are governmental. It means that it’s forbidden to use the car after 7 p.m.

This is the picture of the last year. Now an honor guard doesn’t stand here anymore.

The monument to those killed in World War II reminds of a heathen temple.

The largest flag in the world.

And the honor guard not far away from it. It’s forbidden to photograph its soldiers at a close distance.

The market of Ashgabat.

And this is what you can buy there. The rug depicting Yuri Gagarin.

Local people are very bright and photogenic.

Especially in groups.

Well, much has lately changed in Turkmenistan. In previous days, it was the only Muslim country where a woman was relatively free in terms of appearance: they could open their face and were allowed not to wear a niqab or a yashmak. Now it’s becoming more like all the other Muslim countries…

Location: Ashgabat

via samuraiskiy

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25 Responses to “Ashgabat: The New Life of the Old City”

  1. Patrick TH says:

    Wow it look great

  2. Tovarich Volk says:

    Why not change the name of the country to Belaristan? — The level of despotism seems worse though.

  3. balgam says:

    You wrote “In previous days, it was the only Muslim country where a woman was relatively free in terms of appearance: they could open their face and were allowed not to wear a niqab or a yashmak. Now it’s becoming more like all the other Muslim countries…”

    You are forgetting some muslim countries where women are free in terms of appareance..

  4. Tovarich Volk says:

    I’d also like to add my sympathies to the people who have to live there.It looks bling-ily nice, but from what I’ve read about the country, it’s not a particularly nice place.

  5. OldBikr says:

    Wow! I never thought I would hear you guys using the slang term F>U>B>A>R. It was used correctly too. I won’t get into what it stands for, but I am actually impressed in the usage of it. Someone is getting really good at NorAm colloquialisms on your staff.

  6. opticalsound says:

    “The largest flag in the world.”
    A bit of the old Napoleon complex in Turkmenistan…

  7. ayaa says:

    Krasivyi i sovremennyi gorod. Rossiya dolzhna sledovat za etim primerom, vmesto togo, chtoby presledovat posle yes. Houp Putin delaet koe chto bystro.

  8. moo says:

    I may have it wrong but this is Turkistan not Turkey

  9. A. Bunka says:

    A. Bunka here. The pedestrian underground passage is one aspect of the city planning of Moscow which is outstanding. Even though they are rarely used in this city, as the population and traffic grow they will be used more, an excellent idea.

  10. Verto says:

    Looking Ashgabat,i remember capitol of north Korea “pyongyang.where the front of all buildings are well maintained and painted but behind the front all back buildings are “rotten” and near collapse ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !RIP to all of citizens of “fake developed” countries ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    • Alkofunker says:

      The wealth accumulated from the sale of gas is far from being fake, it’s quite real.

      FYI the country of just 5 mil people sits on 4th largest natural gas reserves.

      Can you name another country where the drivers get 120 litres of petrol each month free of charge?

  11. balgam says:

    exactly, that’s what I mean.

  12. René De Beaumarchais says:

    It’s quite respectable in Ashgabat.

  13. CZenda says:

    The captions are a pile of horse manure. It seems they were written by an envious Russian who cannot live with the idea of Turkmenistan being better off without Russian colonial rule.
    BTW, the Turks above are, of course, right. You do not see niquab or yashmak e.g. in Tunisia, too.

  14. david says:

    The whole world is turning muslim and fanatic. 500 years of progress trashed. Good bye human rights. I understand the oil addicted USA going along with it, but why is Russia letting them conquer the planet?

    • OLUT says:

      Thanks for those links, Joe. The Niyazov article was quite interesting. The guy banned lip-synching? LOL, even the crazies get it right some time; if he were to have banned Auto-Tune, he would be my hero! (OK, Maybe not hero…)

  15. burak_ck says:

    btw ashgabat means “eternal love” or “ebedi ask” which is very unusual for a capitol city

  16. prince says:

    Lovely city and I guess beautiful people.
    This again proves that countries coming out of Russian empire are not only wealthy, but they can not be poor, when wealth and everything was looted in the name communism.
    Now the most important thing being not part of Russia is crime is low and trust of the peoples.
    You cant keep the box any where and expect people to put money based on the trust.
    If the same box system used in India or Moscow at the end of trip the box will be either empty or you will find few rubble from very few honest people.
    Thanks for the post.

  17. Bob says:

    Striking photographs, but something is missing here. It’s sterile. The streets are deserted, few, if any cars are shown. Where are the people? Other than the honor guards and several people near the end of this presentation, there are no people to be seen.

  18. dev says:

    Is there internet at affordable price? what about the currency and exchange rates. I heard there is a lot of difference between bank rate and in market. grateful for advice

  19. dev says:

    Is there internet at affordable price? what about the currency and exchange rates. I heard there is a lot of difference between bank rate and in market. grateful for advice

  20. JohnnyMorales says:

    Apparently someone had a very nice, all expense paid trip to Turkman.

  21. Bashim says:

    The city is very lovely and amazing, especially at nights with all those buildings light up the whole city. Respectful and honest people, good looking..
    It really worth going there and seeing the lifestyle. The buildings are beautiful and they are not rotten inside. They are being cleaned and maintained regularly. Now it is changed to new money which is around 2.7 manat for 1 USD. Old money had differences from market to bank. Now there is no difference, you can exchange money in some other countries as well.

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