With sprawling deserts and its coastline on the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan is a country that played a vital role in the history of the Silk Road. Home to the ruins of the city of Merv, which was once the largest city in the world for its time, Turkmenistan’s Silk Road heritage is impossible to overlook.
The Parthian tribes, whose capital was established in Nisa, once populated Turkmenistan and also controlled the Silk Road in their territory. Most of the cities of Turkmenistan’s Silk Road history are now in ruins, but today, many of them have been excavated and can still be visited.
Turkmenistan borders Iran to the south, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to the North and Afghanistan to the Southeast.
Ashgabat is the capital city of Turkmenistan and is known for its lavish palaces, golden domes and parkland. The city boasts Turkmenistan’s abundant oil money from the Caspian Sea. Ashgabat’s heritage mostly lies in the late 19th century when it became a Russian town on the Trans-Caspian railroad. Most of the city was destroyed during an earthquake and was rebuilt under the Soviet Union.
Eat & drink
Ku’urma is a Turkmen dish made from lamb, which has been cooked in its own fat.
Ichlekli is a traditional pastry that has been made from meat and onions that are cooked in a pie.
Gutap is another Turkmen pie that has been filled with potatoes, spinach, pumpkin and meat.
Gok Chai is a popular green tea drink, spiced up with dried fruits, mint or other herbs.
Nisa was once a Parthian capital in the region dating back to the 3rd century BC and was inhabited until the 19th century. It was a huge complex with an extensive palace and residences.
Merv was one of the most important cities on the Silk Road and one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia. The desert-based city was a hub of trade and cultural activity, with a melting pop of cultures, but it was eventually razed by the Mongols and despite attempts to revive it, the city now lies in the desert in ruins.
Serakhs lay en route between Merv and Nisapur in Persia, and was an oasis stop off between the 10th and 12th centuries. The city was known for its architectural beauty, but even now you can still see its mausoleums.
Darvaza Flaming Crate is known affectionately as the gate of Hell. An oilrig accidentally struck a pocket of natural gas in the late 20th century and the rig collapsed into the cavern, filling it with fire. It still burns today and has become one of the big tourist attractions in Turkmenistan.