18 km to the w est of Ashgabat can be found to be towering ruins of Nissa the capital city of ancient Parthian state which existed between 1,000 B.C. and 1,000 A .D. In the third century B.C. New Nissa was a capital of Parthian state, and Old Nissa fortress was considered an imperial residence.
Old Nissa was rich in temples and palaces. There was also the treasury, huge wine warehouses there. The fortifications were 8- 9 meters thick in the base and were reinforced by 43 rectangular towers.
During the time when Parthian Empire was a world power Old Nissa was called Mitridatkert named after King Mitridat I (171-138 B.C.) who ordered to build the city. Later on the rulers of Parthia transferred the capital to Minor Asia but the special attitude toward Old Nissa remained: there were tombs of the ruling Arsakid dynasty members, in times of great feasts the k ings arrived in Nissa for sacrifice ceremonies.
In the year of 226 Parthia ceased to exist and Artashid, the former representative of Arsakid dynasty founded a new state led by Sasanid dynasty. Hoping to eradicate the memories of everything connected with Parthian rulers he ordered to destroy Old Nissa. Arsakid family place was plundered and turned into ruins. Although it was revived a few centuries later, when Nissa became a part of Arabian caliphate, it did live up to its former power ful position. Today only the finds of archeologists testify about Mitridatokert's former majesty - fine horn-shaped ivory vessels (ritons), unique documents of the 2nd - 1st centuries B.C. written by means of a brush on clay fragments, amazing white marble sculptures etc.
The latest find in Old Nissa is a unique fresco fragment - a genuine masterpiece of P arthian painting.
By the government decree Nissa was declared an archeological reserve of state significance is a candidate to be included into the list of "World Legacy" as one of the most interesting historical landmarks of ancient Oriental states.