Mary is the third largest city of Turkmenistan. It is located in a big oasis in the middle of the Kara Kum Desert . Mary was founded in 1884 as a Russian military administrative center 30 kilometers from ancient Merv (by the way until 1937 Mary was called Merv).
Today it is a major center of cotton industry, large traffic point and the main center of gas industry which brings the most revenues to Turkmenistan treasury. The most interesting places in the city are the History Museum with a rich collection of artifacts, Turkmen carpets, national costumes and silver.
Some sites of ancient settlement which is to be the capitals of ancient Merv in different millenaries make up the historical-architectural zone "Bairamali" which is protected by the state.
The most significant landmarks are: Sultan-kala (9 - 12th centuries), Gyaur-kala (3rd century B.C. - 8-9th centuries A.D.), Erk-kala (1st century B.C.), Abdullakhan - kala (15th century) and Bairamalikhan - kala (18th century). There the most important landmark is Sultan Sandzhar Mausoleum (1118-1157).