Mary, Turkmenistan

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Mary, Turkmenistan

Region: Mary

Geographic Coordinates: 37.600000, 61.833300
Population: 208682
Language: Turkmen

Mary is a city situated in the southeastern region of Turkmenistan, Close to the Murghab River. It serves as the administrative hub of Mary Province and is the fifth-largest city in Turkmenistan, With a population of approximately 144, 000 people. In the late 19th century, It was founded as a Russian military post and has since become an essential cultural and economic center. One of Mary’s most impressive features is its collection of historical monuments.

The ancient city of Merv, Located just outside Mary, Was once one of the world’s largest cities and served as an important trading center along the Silk Road. Today visitors can explore well-preserved ruins that date back to various periods throughout history including Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Apart from its rich history and cultural heritage, Mary also offers several modern amenities for residents and visitors alike. The city boasts numerous parks and gardens where locals can relax or enjoy outdoor activities such as picnicking or sports. Several museums showcase local art and artifacts from throughout Turkmenistan’s history.

Another highlight is its bustling bazaars (markets), Which offer a wide variety of goods ranging from traditional handicrafts to fresh produce. These markets are not only great places to shop but also provide an opportunity for travelers to interact with local vendors who are often eager to share their knowledge about their products. Mary’s location near both Uzbekistan and Afghanistan makes it an ideal base for exploring neighboring countries as well. Visitors can easily cross over into Uzbekistan by road or take a short flight from nearby Ashgabat International Airport.

Overall, Mary offers visitors a unique blend of ancient history coupled with modern amenities that make it an interesting destination for any traveler interested in exploring Central Asia’s rich cultural heritage.

Important Landmarks

  1. Merv Archaeological Site: This UNESCO World Heritage Site features ancient ruins of the Silk Road city.
  2. Gurbanguly Hajji Mosque: A beautiful mosque with unique architecture and intricate designs.
  3. Mary Regional Museum: A museum showcasing the history and culture of the region.
  4. Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum: An impressive mausoleum built in honor of Sultan Sanjar, a 12th-century Seljuk ruler.
  5. Gonur Depe Archaeological Site: An important archaeological site that dates back to the Bronze Age.
  6. Ancient Konye-Urgench City: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site that features ancient ruins of a once-thriving city on the Silk Road.
  7. Ashgabat National Museum of History and Ethnography (located nearby): A museum showcasing Turkmenistan’s rich history and culture through various exhibits and artifacts.
  8. Geok-Depe Fortress (located nearby): An old fortress that played a significant role in Turkmenistan’s history during its fight for independence from Russia in 1881-1884.
  9. Gonur Tepe is another archaeological site located near Mary which was discovered recently has been attracting many tourists every year as it holds evidence to one of world’s oldest civilizations known as Oxus Civilization or BMAC(Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex).

Primary Industries

  1. Cotton farming and processing
  2. Natural gas production and processing
  3. Construction materials manufacturing (such as cement)
  4. Food processing (including meat and dairy products)
  5. Textile manufacturing
  6. Small tourism industry due to historical sites such as the ancient city of Merv

Noteable History

  1. The city was founded during the 19th century as part of the Russian Empire’s expansion into Central Asia.
  2. During World War II, Mary played a crucial role as an important transportation hub for Soviet troops and supplies.
  3. In 1948, an earthquake struck the region, resulting in significant damage to Mary and causing thousands of deaths.
  4. During Soviet times, Mary was a major center for cotton production and irrigation projects.
  5. Saparmurat Niyazov, who was Turkmenistan’s president from 1991 until his death in 2006, was born near Mary.
  6. The ancient city of Merv (also known as Margiana) is located nearby and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Central Asia; it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  7. In recent years, there has been significant development in Mary with new buildings and infrastructure projects being constructed throughout the city.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Ancient Merv: A UNESCO World Heritage Site with the remains of several ancient cities and monuments.
  2. Mary Regional Museum: A museum showcasing the history and culture of Turkmenistan’s Mary region.
  3. Gurbanguly Hajji Mosque: A stunning mosque built in 2009 that can accommodate up to 10,000 people.
  4. Bayramali Mosque: A beautiful mosque located in the town of Bayramali.
  5. Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum: An impressive mausoleum built in honor of Sultan Sanjar, a famous Seljuk king who ruled during the 11th century.
  6. Ashgabat National Museum of History and Ethnography: Although not located in Mary itself, this museum is worth a visit if you’re interested in learning more about Turkmenistan’s history and culture.
  7. Magtymguly Pyragy Monument: A monument dedicated to Magtymguly Pyragy, one of Turkmenistan’s most famous poets and thinkers.
  8. Gonur Depe Archaeological Site: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site located near Mary that contains the ruins of an ancient city dating back to the Bronze Age.
  9. Togolok Moldo Mausoleum: An important religious site for Muslims that contains a mausoleum dedicated to Togolok Moldo, a revered Islamic scholar and poet from Central Asia.
  10. Abiverd Medieval Castle Ruins: The ruins of an old castle located near Mary that offers stunning views over the surrounding countryside.

Cultural Events

  1. Turkmen Carpet Day: This festival celebrates the art of carpet weaving which is an important cultural tradition in Turkmenistan.
  2. Independence Day: Celebrated on October 27th every year, this day marks the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.
  3. International Akhal-Teke Horse Beauty Contest: This event showcases one of the most famous horse breeds in Central Asia – Akhal-Teke horses – and takes place annually at a hippodrome near Ashgabat.
  4. National Spring Festival (Nowruz): Celebrated on March 21st every year, Nowruz marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated with traditional food, music, dance and other festivities.
  5. National Flag Day: Celebrated on February 19th every year since 2010 to honor the country’s flag as a symbol of national identity.
  6. Melon Festival: Held annually during August or September when melons are harvested, this festival celebrates one of Turkmenistan’s most popular fruits with music performances and competitions for best melon growers.

Please note that due to COVID-19 pandemic many events may be cancelled or postponed until further notice.


  • Shashlyk – grilled meat skewers served with bread and vegetables
  • Pilaf – a rice dish cooked with meat or vegetables and spices
  • Manty – steamed dumplings filled with lamb or beef
  • Lagman – a noodle soup with vegetables and meat
  • Bazaar food stalls – where you can find traditional street food like samsa (baked pastry filled with meat), chebureki (deep-fried turnovers filled with minced lamb), and chak-chak (honey-covered fried dough).

Here are some popular restaurants in Mary:

  • Merdan Restaurant & Cafe
  • Ak Oy Cafe
  • Gurbannazar Eje Restaurant
  • Taze Jahan Restaurant & Cafe
  • Turkmenbashy Restaurant

  • Parks and Recreation

    1. Gurbanguly Hajji Mosque Park – a large park with a mosque and outdoor seating areas for picnics and relaxation.
    2. Mary Central Park – a popular park with walking paths, playgrounds, sports fields, and picnic areas.
    3. Mary State Historical and Cultural Park – a historical park that features ancient ruins from the Parthian era.
    4. Mary Stadium – a sports stadium that hosts soccer matches and other events.
    5. Turkmen Carpet Museum – an indoor museum that showcases traditional Turkmen carpets and textiles.
    6. Horseback riding tours – visitors can take guided horseback riding tours through the surrounding countryside.
    7. Desert safaris – visitors can go on guided desert safaris to explore the nearby sand dunes and wilderness areas.
    8. Cycling tours- visitors can take cycling tours to explore the city’s architecture, culture or natural beauty of its surroundings.
    9. Camel rides- Visitors can enjoy camel rides in the desert or around the city for sightseeing purposes.
    10. Mary Ice Palace- A recreational center where visitors can ice skate or watch ice hockey games during winter seasons.
    11. Ski resort on Kopetdag Mountains: Visitors who love skiing can visit this ski resort located around 80 km from Mary City where they will find all facilities required for skiing like ski lifts etc.
    12. Aqua Parks: There are many water parks located in different parts of Turkmenistan including one in Ashgabat which is not very far away from Mary City where people come to spend their leisure time enjoying water slides etc.


    Its All About The Journey.

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