Ashgabat: the most isolated city on the planet.

Ashgabat is the capital of Turkmenistan, one of the constituent republics of the former Soviet Union. At present, it is an independent state and considered by the United Nations Organization as one of the more repressive and dictatorial. What in practice is a highly controlled place, with difficult access and very limited freedoms, is a curious destination to say the least, and one that seduces intrepid travelers attracted by the strange system and way of life of this country. Saparmyrat Nyýazow, the dictator who died in 2006, demanded a large cult to his person, multiplying its image from banknotes to vodka bottles. And although there is currently a process of reorganization of power, there is a continuity in the methods and ways of governing that are not encouraging at all.

Why would someone decide to visit Ashgabat and Turkmenistan?: among several unmissable places is the Tolkuchka bazaar, located at the gates of the desert, a true traditional market, ideal to meet on a Sunday. Place where you can find from a Turkmen carpet or a telpek authentic, the representative hat of the Roman Turkish culture. Undoubtedly, the center, which we will virtually tour below, is a paradoxically interesting place: an architecture sampler at the service of the dictator’s image. It is important to know that during Nyýazow’s presidency, most of the income to the State coffers went to beautification programs for the capital and the cult of the president, measures that reflect a high contrast between the images of the Capital, of apparent development and the reality in which the population lives, in which unemployment and poverty rates exceed 60 percent. The attraction, in any case, is not limited to the capital, but also to the monotonous but attractive landscape of its extensive desert. Leaving the capital, the Karakum desert is an amazing destination in itself.

Due to the relatively small number of images of the city, a good alternative to get to know the place virtually is through Google Earth, where we can find out, for example, details of the Presidential Palace:

The “Arch of Neutrality”: a giant monument to the figure of the dictator:

About more details about the cult of the person of Saparmyrat Nyýazow: «…he renamed himself as «Türkmenbasy» (father of the Turkmen). The National holiday correspond with the day of his birthday, on February 19. There is a statue of him gilded with fine gold, which turns on itself in the center of the capital, Ashgabat, so that his face is always illuminated by the sunAnd in the city it is very easy to find lots of scattered statues of the leader:




On Flickr, there is an interesting gallery about the architecture of the capital. It is always advisable to travel with your passport and the corresponding visa. The tourist visa is assigned to foreigners who want to visit the country, having to certify it within a maximum period of three days after arriving. The form obtained in a state office, authorizes us to remain in the country without setbacks, by presenting it together with the passport and the visa in any place that they ask us for it. At the same time, it is mandatory to return the document at the same border post through which we entered the country.

Plus
Turkmenistan – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
HRW WORLD ATLAS – Turkmenistan
Complete Guide to Turkmenistan – Information about Turkmenistan