• Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

  • Bahrain!

    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

  • Laos!

    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

  • Tajikistan!

    Tajikistan: A yurt in the mountains. Go Now!

    The high mountains have mysteries around every turn, including yurts (pictured), a home for the nomadic people. Go Now!

Architecture of Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan's architecture begins with the Silk Road and the oasis town of Merv. Despite being under numerous foreign rulers, this town became very popular and the home to great architecture as many traders passed through. Today there is little more than ruins, but the multiple cities on the sight over the years and the long history (from about 500 BC to the 1300s AD) make it truly unique.

Islam was introduced to the Persian people in the 600s and 700s and the southern reaches of modern day Turkmenistan fell under Persian rule for much of its early history, including the city of Merv. Among the ruins, the best and/or most interesting during the Seljuk Turk's Islamic rule include the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum (1100s AD) and Mohammed ibn Zeid Mausoleum (1100s). Sadly, in the 1200s most of the city was destroyed by the Mongols.

In the later years of Merv's prosperity, the city of Konye-Urgench arose, also under Seljuk Turk influence. The architecture in this city (peaking in the 1100 and 1200s) is better preserved than that of Merv and is again heavily Seljuk as it was also a major Islamic center during its peak. Despite having more than Merv standing today, the city is home to few great monuments, although the Nejameddin Kubra Mausoleum and the surrounding area is very impressive and in the Seljuk style.

In the late 1300s the Timurid Dynasty took over much of Central Asia and built some mosques in Turkmenistan. In most of these buildings tile work was extensive and were generally bright colors. Stucco was also a common substance for decorational purposes.

From the time of the Timurid Dynasty until the 1800s few monumental structures were built as Turkmenistan was primarily a desert and the Timurid Dynasty moved southeast, leaving the region behind.

Most of modern Turkmenistan, particularly the large cities, were built under Soviet rule in the 1900s and the Soviet's simple construction focused on use over esthetics and can be seen everywhere. During this time period many buildings were constructed for housing and industrial plants as a mass urbanization occurred. Churches were no longer built, as religion was not encouraged, so nearly all constructions from this time were functional in use and had few design features of note.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 Turkmenistan's former president, Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as Turkmenbashi) decided to build lavish palaces, mosques, and statues dedicated to himself. The capital city of Ashgabat is a living museum of the odd and much of this comes in the form of buildings from Turkmenbashi's time, although later buildings were influenced by this lead. Among the most interesting buildings is the Turkmenistan Broadcasting Center (2011) in Ashgabat. If statues count as architecture though, the rotating gold statue of Turkmenbashi is the country's more interesting piece of architecture.

This page was last updated: July, 2012