Urban Development of Ashgabat since Independence of Turkmenistan


Although numerous buildings from the Soviet era can still be found in the cityscape of Ashgabat, the buildings that were built after independence now dominate. Because for more than 20 years the city has been subjected to a worldwide unprecedented renovation program. Its most striking features are countless monumental buildings, parks, main roads and generously dimensioned pedestrian paths. Most of the buildings are clad with white marble slabs, always 80 * 40cm in size, and their architectural style is characterized by a mixture of ancient Roman-Greek-Egyptian, Timurid, baroque, postmodern and futuristic elements.

Once again, very little consideration is given to established structures and existing building ensembles when redesigning the city. Whole neighborhoods are falling victim to the redesign. According to some reports, the government is showing a reluctance to pay compensation. The new district in the south of the city is particularly striking. In the past few years there have been hundreds of ministries, hotels, apartment complexes, museums, parks, monuments, fountains and sports stadiums on an area of around 6.5 * 6km originated. In 2011 alone, 5 new stadiums with a total capacity of more than 85,000 seats were opened in Ashgabat.

According to Computerdo.com, these monumental buildings burden the Turkmen state budget with equally monumental expenses. In 2010 and 2011 alone, the construction budget was US $ 23.6 billion. The numerous new buildings now also include a complete Olympic village – including numerous sports stadiums, swimming arenas, cycling halls, tennis arenas and hotels and restaurants for tens of thousands of visitors. The cost of this is given at around US $ 2 billion.

National coat of arms of Turkmenistan

To illustrate the truly pharaonic dimensions of this building program, some buildings are presented below as examples. The speed with which new buildings are erected and the multitude of structures already in place must make any attempt to put all the buildings together to fail. The links to the names automatically lead to images of the respective buildings (which open in new tabs).

Monuments in Ashgabat:

  • Independence Monument: Monument erected in the form of a yurt, crowned by a 91 meter high needle decorated with gold-plated insignia of the Turkmen President and elements of the Turkmen flag. On the needle there is a 27 meter high gold-plated flagpole, which is crowned by a likewise gold-plated crescent moon. Inside is the Independence Museum. In the area around the monument there are numerous (partly mythological) figures from Turkmen history – also with gilded details. In front of the Independence Monument is one of the few remaining gilded monumental statues of President Niyazov. Like most large monuments, this one is supported by two honor guards guarded – as well as four equally monumental guardian statues.
  • Fountain in Independence Park: Largest single fountain in the world, inside: a shopping center.
  • Rukhnama Monument: The world’s largest movable monument in the form of a book. The monument is modeled on the book Rukhnama written by President Niyazov. Until 2008 the monument was opened in the evening for a sound and light show, during which the book was read aloud. This is no longer repeated daily. The monument was extensively renovated in 2009 and 2011.
  • Constitutional Monument: An almost 200m high obelisk guarded by honor guards, erected in memory of the new constitution passed under President Berdimuhamedow. Inside is a museum.
  • Monument of neutrality: A monument reopened in 2011 on the outskirts of the city with a 12 meter high gilded statue of President Niyazov at the top. Until 2010, the monument stood in downtown Ashgabat. The statue of Niyazov rotated with the sun. Further images show the area around the monument as well as the embedding in a specially created park landscape.
  • Oghuz Khan fountain system: According to the Guinness Book of Records, the system is the largest publicly accessible system of linked synchronized fountains. The fountain system was renovated in 2015 and has been accessible again since the opening of the new airport in the north of the capital. Water choreographies are regularly performed in the early evening hours with elaborate sound and light shows.
  • Horse Monument (old) with a gilded statue of Niyazov in the foreground. After the monument had been extensively renovated and gilded in September 2009, it was dismantled in April 2014. In contrast to numerous other monuments from the reign of the first president, which were also dismantled at their original locations near the city center and then rebuilt in a new context on the outskirts, nothing is known about the whereabouts of the horse monument. Part of the memorial park built in August 2014 on the previously largely undeveloped western edge of the city has not been relocated, nor has it been rebuilt elsewhere. The same applies to the gilded monumental statue President Niyazovs, who stood in front of the horse monument until April 2014.
  • Horse Monument (new): Simultaneously with the demolition of the above-mentioned old horse monument, President Berdimuhamedow inaugurated a new horse monument dedicated to the “unknown Akhal-Tekke horse” just outside the city center (corner of Kopetdag Avenue and Andalib Street). The monumental statue shows a group of horses covered in gold leaf at a gallop. In addition, other horse monuments have been built in many places in the city, but they are all inferior to the old horse monument in terms of their artistic quality.
  • Well system outside of Ashgabat.
  • Monumental thermometer in the city center (largest free-standing thermometer in the world).
  • Earthquake monument to commemorate the earthquake of 1948. Like numerous other monuments from the reign of the first president, the earthquake monument has now been removed from the city center and rebuilt on the outskirts. In this case, the monument was demolished immediately after the celebration of the memorial day for the great earthquake of 1948 in November of 2013 and in July 2014 at the upper end of the newly built Memorial Park in the west of the city rebuilt.
  • Pillar with globe below the five-headed Turkmen eagle on a circle next to the newest presidential palace.
  • Monument commemorating the Great Patriotic War: This monument has also been dismantled in the city center of Ashgabat and also moved to the aforementioned memorial park.
  • Monument in memory of President Niyazov’s father (until 1993: Monument in honor of the unknown soldier): This monument was also demolished in 2014. The monument was rebuilt in Niyazov’s birthplace. New office buildings are currently being built at the original site of the monument.
  • Monument (and museum) to celebrate the overachievement of the plan for the production of wheat and to commemorate the Turkmen wheat-growing tradition.

Buildings in the south of the city:

  • National cultural center: monumental complex consisting of a triumphal arch-like entrance portal, behind it the national library, the national concert palace and the museum of the gifts given to the Turkmen presidents from all over the world.
  • National Museum: in front of the museum is the largest flagpole in the world when it was erected, in the museum exhibitions: Turkmen prehistory, Turkmenistan in the Middle Ages and Turkmenistan since independence. After a reorganization in 2013/2014, the focus is now, in addition to historical aspects, primarily on the achievements of the country under the rule of President Berdimuhamedow.
  • Ashgabat TV tower: At the same time, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s largest architectural realization of an octagonal star.
  • Ferris: South of the city center was the Guinness Book of World Records largest indoor Ferris wheel in the world in 2013 opened. The Ferris wheel is lavishly illuminated at night.
  • Palace of Happiness: A building in the shape of a disco ball designed for weddings and other events.
  • Stadium in the Olympic Village.
  • Olympic monorail in the Olympic Village.
  • Foreign Ministry: A special feature of this building is the globe mounted at the top. This is rotated so that from the street in front of the building the view falls directly on Turkmenistan highlighted in gold. From the Independence Park there is an excellent view of the newly created splendid axes in the south of the capital.
  • Ministry of Education.
  • Ministry of Telecommunications.
  • National Trade Center.
  • New hotel building.
  • Hotel Ashgabat.
  • Hotel President.
  • Another new hotel building with lobby.
  • Overview of some of the new buildings in the south of the city, in the middle the ferris wheel, on the right the foreign ministry.
  • Ministry of Defense (reception room).

New buildings in the center of Ashgabat:

  • New Presidential Palace: The palace commissioned by President Berdimuhamedow is one of the largest buildings in Asia with a side length of 260 * 110 meters and was inaugurated in 2011. The construction cost was around US $ 350 million. The palace is used by Berdimuhamedow for representative purposes.
  • Presidential Palace: Built under Niyazov, used as the main palace until 2011. While the old presidential palace only had one gilded dome, the new palace is adorned with three gilded domes.
  • Center for Free Creativity.
  • Ministry of Textiles.
  • Ministry of Fairness (former Ministry of Justice) with a statue of the mother of the first president as Justizia in front of the main entrance
  • Ministry of Construction.
  • Ministry of Telecommunications.
  • Expobank bank building.
  • Volksbank.
  • Central bank.
  • Court of Auditors.
  • National Exhibition Palace.
  • University (here medical faculty)
  • Azadi Mosque: The Blue Mosque in Istanbul nachempfundener new building.
  • Oguzkent Hotel.
  • Theater (Alp Arslan Theater) with a view of the reception room.
  • In addition, there are numerous other images with examples of the typical architecture of new apartment buildings.

Streets and monumental axes:

The following photos give an impression of the typical street scene in the south of the capital:

  • Road intersection in the southwest of Ashgabat.
  • Street in the south of the city.
  • Street in the south of the city.
  • Pedestrian path along the Independence Park.
  • Pedestrian path in the Memorial Park west of the city center.
  • Air-conditioned bus stop near the new presidential palace.
  • Pedestrian area in the city center.

New buildings outside of Ashgabat:

  • Gok Tepe Mosque.
  • Gupjag Mosque: The largest mosque in Central Asia. In the immediate vicinity there is the Niyazovs Mausoleum, which is much smaller than the mosque, but which is basically the same architectural style. At the end of the shell, the spiers were placed on the minarets in a spectacular action with helicopters.
  • Health trail: An 8 or 32 km long staircase built under Niyazov to increase the fitness of the population in the mountains south of Ashgabat. The stairs can be climbed at any time, as they are illuminated along their entire length at night. When landing at night after an approach to Ashgabat from the west (Turkish Airways, Lufthansa), it is worth looking out of the windows on the right in the direction of flight. Conifers have been planted around the stairs, which are supposed to grow into a dense coniferous forest through artificial irrigation.

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