Ashgabat monuments, Turkmenistan
Ashgabat Touristic Monuments
Old and New Nisa
Not far from (only 18 km ) Ashgabat city, on the outskirts of Bagir village there is a unique heritage assets and most visited sights of Ashgabat – the ruins of ancient settlement of Nisa, once being in the flower of beauty when it was the capital of the famous Parthian Empire existed from the III century BC till the III century AD. The historical complex includes two archeological monuments – Old and New Nisa.
Old Nisa (Midridatkert city in ancient times) is of special interest for tourists. This strong fortress shaped in an oblique (elongated) pentagon (total area of 14 ha) and one inaccessible bastion. The fortresses walls of 9-m wide in their base were additionally strengthened with 43 rectangular towers.
Old Nisa was the place which concentrated the palace and temple buildings. It hosted festivals devoted to canonization of the Arsacid dynasty representatives, the Parthian rulers.
Inside Old Nisa, there located two large architectural complexes: the northern and southern ones. The first complex, as such, does not already exist (wine warehouses and imperial treasury were located there), but the second complex is the main sight of whole Nisa nowadays. Up to date, there survived three attractions representing an interest for tourists. The first object is a large tower building - the only two-storey structure revealed so far. Once it dominated over not only the Nisa memorial complex, but also the whole community and was seen from afar, at the distance of many kilometers. Even now, its vaulted walls, skillfully laid raw brickwork, the forethought and integrity of its inimitable architecture cause a genuine admiration.
The second object is 2-3m high ruins of huge columns and walls. Perhaps at that time it was one of the most luxurious premises of the temple complex decorated with statues of the canonized Parthian kings. And the third object is so-called “Round Hall” with diameter of 17 m. The Old Nisa architecture is unique, original and is unprecedented in whole Central Asia. The architectural traditions of antique Greece, Rome and the East have harmoniously merged in it. Nisa was built by local architects and builders who mastered perfectly the methods and style of western craftsmen. Having elaborated them creatively, the architects and builders founded their own new inimitable art of building. Old Nisa existed till the III century BC, in the period when the territory was under the Arsacid dynasty.
New Nisa is an ancient settlement with houses of the local aristocracy, surrounded with large blooming gardens in the territory of several hectares. Unlike Old Nisa, the life there continued to exist many centuries more after the fall of the Arsacid power. However, the city, destroyed by the Sassanid, was empty over two centuries. It was only in the second half of the V century when the city was restores by Firuz, the Sassanid king who had evaluated an advantageous location on Nisa. In 651 Nisa became a part of the Arab Caliphate. In 1220 Nisa as many other big cities of Central Asia suffered from a total catastrophe: siege and demolition by Mongolian troops.
In spite of a relative youth of the Geok-Tepe Fortress built in 1869, it is a remarkable place that played an important role in the Turkmenistan history. It was the last bastion on the way of Tsarist Russia in occupation of Central Asia.
The Fortress was built by the Russians on the Caspian Sea shore as a base for advancing its troops to the territory of Central Asia. In spite of the desperate attempts of the Tekins (local inhabitants) to hold the Fortress, the Russians attacked it in August 1879 and after multi-day shellfire, seized the fortress. But for a short period: the Turkmen cast the Russians away to the Caspian shore again.
The Russians kept on trying to seize Geok-Tepe several times more, however it was December 1880, when the fortress was finally seized: the Russians came back to Geok-Tepe, dug an underground tunnel to the fortress, blew up the entrance gates and seized it. When Geok-Tepe was seized, the Russians headed for Ashkhabad on 18 January 1881 and founded East-Caspian region to include such cities as Mangishlak, Kiziisy, Ashkhabad, Tedjen and Merv.
Today the Geok-Tepe Fortress belongs to the country’s historical and architectural landmarks. It dominates over the Caspian as a reminder of that memorial battle, which turned the course of history of many peoples.