Unless you cross the land border from Uzbekistan or Iran or catch the ferry from Azerbaijan, chances are your first experience will be landing at Ashgabat International Airport. Opened in 2016 and costing $2.3 billion dollars. The airport is incredibly unique as it’s shaped like a falcon! It is designed to handle 14 million passengers per year. There is also a VIP terminal that is a smaller version of the main terminal. The old airport, formerly known as Saparmurat Turkmenbashy International Airport is now the domestic terminal.
Looking very similar to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, the Yyldyz Hotel is 24 stories and has 155 rooms. It was opened in 2013. International delegations normally stay here and the views of Ashgabat city are phenomenal. Even if you’re not staying here the hotel is home to two of the best restaurants in the country, so eating here one night will give you a chance to see this impressive building as well as the views it offers.
Also known as the Wheel of Enlightenment, this is the largest indoor Ferris Wheel in the world! At the bottom is a games arcade and food court. Opened in 2012, the entire structure is 95 metres tall, while the Ferris Wheel itself is 47 metres. The Alem Merkezi also houses a 10 pin bowling alley, an archery area and the Turkmenistan Space Museum!
Palace of Happiness
Wedding palaces during Soviet times were a common site, often taking pride of place in a relatively central location. Due to the restrictions on religion, wedding palaces became part of the civic religion of the Soviet sphere. While most former Soviet countries have kept the tradition, Turkmenistan has taken it to the next level. The Palace of Happiness, known in Turkmen as Bagt köşgi , was built in 2011.
The eleven-story building covers an area of over 38,000 square metres and has six rooms for registration of marriage, three wedding, two of which hold 500 guests and one that has a capacity of 1000. The Palace hosts seven banquet rooms, 36 shops and two cafes, providing all the necessary items for wedding services, including dress shops, decorations, car rental, jewellery, photo studios, beauty salons and a 22-room hotel.
As the name suggests, this amazing structure was built to celebrate the country’s independence. The main part of the monument is 91 metres for the year Turkmenistan gained independence (1991), the top part is 27 metres high for the date they became independent (the 27 th ), while it has a circumference of 10 metres to indicate the month it happened (October)!
Arch of Neutrality
Originally in the centre of Ashgabat, the entire monument was moved to the outskirts of the city. It was built in 1998 to celebrate Turkmenistan becoming the first officially Neutral country. On top of the monument is a gold statue of the first President, Turkmenbashy, which used to rotate to always face the sun, but now it is permanently facing Ashgabat. Inside is a museum of gifts that were given to the first President.
Officially the Saparmurat Turkmenbashy Olympic stadium, it was rebuilt between 2013 and 2017 for the 5 th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. It’s the largest structure in the shape of a horse in the WORLD! And seats 45,000 people. The entire structure is built in white marble, can be seen from across the city, and is part of the Olympic village with dozens of venues, hotels and athletes’ accommodation. The Olympic village also has Turkmenistan’s only monorail.
Possibly the best monument in Turkmenistan, the Arkadag monument celebrates the Second President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Arkadag means Great Protector and was the name given to President Berdymukhamedov. What makes this monument great is that the President is riding a golden horse, an Akhalteke of course, while the horse is riding on a white marble wave!