Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Bagt Koshgi

Ashgabat is the capital and largest city of Turkmenistan. It has a history that stretches back to the 19th century, but there are also many medieval monuments and even the ruins of the ancient city of Nisa, over 2,000 years old, nearby. In 1948, a massive earthquake hit Ashgabat, destroying more than 90% of its structures and killing over 100,000 people. Many ancient mosques and landmarks were turned into rubble. Because of this, most of the city's monuments today were built in the latter half of the 20th century, with some stunning sites and architectural innovations appearing in the early 21st century. Among these, here are the top 10 landmarks and attractions in Ashgabat.

Ashgabat's highlights include a mix of historical relics, grand mosques, and large monuments that honor the Turkmen people and their leaders. You can find these monuments all over the city and its outskirts—seeing them all in one day would require a car and a guide. Below are some details on each key attraction in Ashgabat.

1. Independence Park

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Independence Park

Located in the south of Ashgabat, Independence Park is a symbol of modern Turkmenistan. The park covers 140 hectares and features numerous significant monuments, such as the giant Ruhnama book, sculptures of historical figures, and a gilded statue of the first president, Saparmurat Niyazov, also known as Turkmenbashi. A 118-meter tall column in the park, the Independence Monument, is topped with a crescent and five stars, symbolizing the five Turkmen tribes. The monument’s base is a semicircular building that houses the Independence Museum.

2. Monument of Neutrality

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Monument of Neutrality

This impressive monument is another tribute to modern Turkmenistan and its first president. Standing 95 meters tall, the structure is supported by three pylons and resembles a "tagan," a traditional Turkmen hearth stand. Visitors can take funiculars inside the pylons up to a viewing platform at 22 meters, and from there, an elevator ascends to 50 meters for sweeping views of Ashgabat. Atop the Monument of Neutrality, a 12-meter statue of Turkmenbashi with a billowing flag overlooks the city. Initially, the statue rotated daily, but now it permanently faces the capital. This iconic structure is included in the list of the TOP 10 best attractions in Ashgabat.

3. Turkmen Carpet Museum

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Turkmen Carpet Museum

This unique museum is dedicated solely to Turkmen carpets and was established in 1993 to help revive and preserve the tradition of carpet weaving. True Turkmen carpets are handmade, and the museum displays around 2,000 examples. Among them is an extraordinary, handcrafted carpet made in 2001, covering 301 square meters and recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. Turkmenistan celebrates Turkmen Carpet Day on the last Sunday of May each year, with the most significant festivities taking place in this remarkable museum.

4. Old Nisa

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Old Nisa

Old Nisa is a historic fortress from the Parthian Empire, characterized by its pentagonal layout and spanning 14 hectares. Located 18 kilometers west of Ashgabat, this site once hosted palace and temple buildings and even served as an imperial capital for some time. Today, Old Nisa is a popular stop for nearly all tourist groups visiting Turkmenistan. Artifacts found during archaeological digs here are displayed at the History Museum in Ashgabat. It is rightfully included in the TOP-10 best sights of Ashgabat.

5. Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque

This landmark west of Ashgabat was once the biggest mosque in Central Asia and remains the largest in Turkmenistan. Constructed between 2002 and 2004 by initiative of Turkmenbashi, whom the mosque is named after, it features four 91-meter tall minarets and a striking 55-meter high golden dome. Its façade is clad in white marble. The mosque has a capacity to accommodate 10,000 worshippers.

6. Bagt Koshgi

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Bagt Koshgi

Known as the "Palace of Happiness," this unique wedding palace is in the western part of Ashgabat. Perched on a hill, it offers excellent views of the city. The architecture of Bagt Koshgi is a modern symbol of Ashgabat, featuring a cubic frame made of eight-pointed stars and encasing a 32-meter diameter sphere. The palace provides a comprehensive range of services for newlyweds and also includes a small hotel. This is the most shiny and interesting attraction in Ashgabat.

7. Ertogrulgazy Mosque

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Ertogrulgazy Mosque

Located in the heart of Ashgabat, this large mosque opened in 1998. It is built in a Turkish style, similar to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, and can hold 5,000 worshippers. The mosque’s decor is in an ancient Byzantine style, known for its grandeur and sophistication. Inside, there's a large courtyard with a fountain, and the prayer hall is adorned with paintings, gildings, and stained glass. It's situated on Azadi Street, which is why it's sometimes called the Azadi Mosque.

8. State Museum of Turkmenistan

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: State Museum of Turkmenistan

This museum is the largest in Turkmenistan and was formed by merging the Museum of History and Ethnography with the Museum of Fine Arts. It’s an impressive collection, showcasing over 130,000 items that illustrate the vast history and culture of the Turkmen people, from ancient states on this land to the modern independent nation. It’s especially fascinating to visit after seeing archaeological sites like Old Nisa. In front of the museum, you’ll see the country’s tallest flagpole, standing at 133 meters, which was the tallest in the world until 2010. This museum is undoubtedly one of the most interesting sights of Ashgabat.

9. Lenin Monument

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Lenin Monument

This monument is a real blast from the past, echoing the Soviet era when similar symbols were common across settlements. Today, it serves as a compelling site for those interested in Turkmenistan's communist history. The monument is unique for its base, which is decorated with tiles featuring traditional Turkmen carpet designs. It's located in central Ashgabat, in a park named after Lenin, surrounded by the city’s key administrative and cultural buildings. This location is a must-visit among the Ashgabat attractions and definitely deserves a spot on the list of the top 10 best attractions in Ashgabat.

10. Russian Bazaar

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Russian Bazaar

No longer the market that symbolized the socialist era in Ashgabat, the Russian Bazaar still boasts a distinct Eastern charm. Its enormous concrete canopies are a marvel of engineering. Originally named for the Russian traders who frequented it in the 19th century, the market is now officially known as "Gulistan." Despite Turkmenistan’s reputation for being closed and strict, the Russian Bazaar remains one of the most vibrant and colorful spots in Ashgabat, and is definitely worth including on any tour of the city.

Our top 10 list of Ashgabat attractions wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a few lesser-known spots that are definitely worth a visit:

Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex (People's Memory) - Located in the southwest of Ashgabat, this park honors the victims of the Great Patriotic War and the devastating 1948 earthquake in Ashgabat. Visitors can explore a small museum on-site that delves into this tough chapter in the city’s history.

Top 10 Landmarks and Attractions in Ashgabat: Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex (People's Memory)

Health Path - Stretching 36 km, this paved pedestrian path runs through the foothills of the Kopetdag range. It was opened in 2000 by the country's first president. You can walk along it any time, day or night, thanks to complete lighting, and there are several spots along the way to grab some drinking water. The path starts near the Old Nisa fortress.

Seyitjemaliddin Mosque - This is a rare medieval structure, now mostly ruins with only the strongest walls still standing. The mosque suffered significant damage during the 1948 earthquake, making it a poignant reminder of the disaster. Some of its original decorations survived, offering a glimpse of its past splendor. The mosque is located 15 km east of Ashgabat and is an important site among the Ashgabat attractions.