The Sincerest Form of Flattery

The Entry Courtyard to the The Ertugrul Gazi Mosque in Ashgabat

The Ertuğrul Gazi Mosque, said to be patterned after the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, sits at the end of a grand boulevard of parks that are almost as empty as the mosque itself. Large enough to hold 5,000 worshipers, it sees only a small fraction of that since it’s ‘unlucky’ or ‘haunted’ due to a number of deaths during its construction. In that respect, it seems that some comparisons are only skin deep.

Pendulum of Reflection

Persian Mosque Krezrety Omar in Ashgabat
Most Persian-style mosques are famed for their ornate surfaces and the interior of the Krezrety Omar mosque in Ashgabat certainly lives up to that rich history. What really catches the eye though is the unusual chandelier underneath the central dome. Oscillating, mesmerizing, and constantly reminding the faithful that the sumptuous surroundings are a mear diversion of focus to something much larger.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Golden statue of Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat's Independence Park

It’s sometimes hard for the eyes not to focus on President Saparmurat Niyazov’s shining doppelgänger in Independence Park. Gold, however, eventually looses its luster (or in post-presidential times gets replaced) and we have to look closer for the timeless, more subtle, effects at play. Do you see them? How many Rub el Hizb can you count?

A Moment of Silence

Ashgabat's Earthquake Memorial

The near-empty streets of Ashgabat add to the eerie silence of the memorial to the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in 1948 that leveled the city and killed tens of thousands. Raising from the ashes of destruction on the back of a bull (traditional symbol of strength) comes a Golden Child (the future president, Saparmurat Niyazov).