Thursday, 8 May 2014

A is for Ashgabat

Are you ready for some little-known facts about the capital of the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan? You might need to check out the atlas to see where it is first, I did and I was planning a holiday there :)

So if, like me, your entire store of knowledge on the subject of Turkmenistan would struggle to fill the back of a postage stamp, prepare to be enlightened!

Apparently this is the fourth tallest freestanding flagpole in the world, now I am sure that is definitely a little-known fact.

Ashgabat Flagpole

If you know where the three taller flagpoles are then do let me know in a comment!

If you are a fairground adrenalin junkie then you will definitely want to know that this is the world's largest enclosed Ferris Wheel.

Ashgabat Ferris Wheel

It is the showpiece of the Alem Entertainment Centre in Ashgabat, which sadly we only drove past so never got a chance to see for ourselves whether the several million dollars it cost to construct were well spent. I think there is a great quilt pattern there though, don't you? The eight-pointed star is the symbol of Turkmenistan so was everywhere, I gave up taking photos of them after a while!

Part of the huge cost of the building was no doubt the vast quantity of white marble used, specially imported from Italy I gather. White marble is a bit of a motif for all of the recent construction in the city. Apparently Ashgabat has the most white marble-clad buildings in the world! I am not sure what the competitor figures are, but there are supposed to be over 540 white marble-clad buildings in the city. We weren't able to take photos of many of them as they were Government buildings so out of bounds for photos, but here is a couple that I was able to photograph.

This is the Mausoleum of the previous President, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in 2006. 

Ashgabat Mosque

 Right next door is another magnificent marble edifice, the Kipchak Mosque. It can hold over 10,000 worshippers, but according to our guide has never held more than 2,000 at any one time.

Ashgabat Kipchak Mosque

As you can see from the above, it wasn't exactly busy when we were there. The Mosque was built by the Former President who had very definitely bought into the cult of personality by the time this was being built, so managed to make the emphasis of the Mosque more geared towards his own work than perhaps might be considered appropriate for a religious building.

Ashgabat Monument to Neutrality
More marble in evidence at our last stop of the day, the Monument to Neutrality, which naturally enough is topped with a golden statue of the Former President! There were lots of those around the city too :)

Finally just to show you that I didn't just take photos of marble palaces, here are a couple of things that inspired me along the way.

Ashgabat Tile Mosaic
Mosaic tiles on the entrance of a restaurant

Ashgabat Lamppost

A lamppost on one of the main streets, which is certainly a step up from the boring plain lampposts I see at home.

Thanks for reading this far, I could bore you with lots more photos of Ashgabat, but I think you have had enough for now and there is still Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to go :)

Linking up as always to

Really Random


  1. Interesting choice of holiday destination! Love the details you photographed...definitely some good quilt inspiration there.

  2. Oh wow - looking forward to the next batch!

  3. Are you going to make a quilt from those tiles? I sure want to! And more vicarious traveling. Thanks, Fiona!

  4. I realise I was totally ignorant about Turkmenistan! Great photos and I love the mosaic tiles and the lamp posts. Nothing so fancy around here either!

  5. I couldn't have told you anything about Turkmenistan before this post! Hope you make a quilt out of that lovely mosaic pattern. Looks like a fab holiday x

  6. thank you for sharing these photos and facts, so interesting to see and rad about places I will never be able to visit. Can see a quilt appearing from those mosaic tiles.

  7. I've worked out the pieces for making the mosaic block into a quilt - gorgeous!!!! ( I spent time in Rome doing the same!!!). I'm not sure I've ever seen another enclosed Ferris wheel! Wouldn't the structure spoil the view?

  8. That Ferris wheel looks more like a building than a fairground attraction! Quilt inspiration galore!

  9. more, more, more!!! i do believe that is the fanciest ferris wheel i have ever seen!

  10. I know where Turkmenistan is - does that make me a proper geek? Looking forward to seeing the rest. I know I don't usually like holiday photos, but this is a very interesting part of the world that I've never been to

  11. I knew nothing about Turkmenistan until your post, Fiona. Those tiles on the entrance to the restaurant would make an awesome quilt.

  12. What an amazing place! Thankyou for sharing such lovely pictures and fascinating info :)

    Since you asked, according to wikipedia ( ) The Dushanbe Flagpole is a flagpole located in front of the Palace of Nations in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. It is the tallest free-standing flagpole in the world, at a height of 165 metres (541 feet),[1][2] beating the 162 m (531 ft) National Flagpole in Azerbaijan, the 160 m (525 ft) Panmunjeom Flagpole of Kijŏng-dong in North Korea, and the 133 m (436 ft) Ashgabat Flagpole in Turkmenistan.[3]

  13. Wow, sounds like you had an amazing trip! I love the quilty images that you found :-)

  14. Those tiles are amazing. Like make me want to pull out my sketch book amazing...even the colors are spot on. That might be another paper piecing project for you!


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