Mary Region

The southernmost region of Mary, with its fertile Murgab riverine oases, has attracted people since ancient times. Its capital Mary is the place from which the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Merw can be visited, but also the excavation sites of the Margush civilization from Bronze Age times, of which the Gonur Depe archeological remains form the center. While Merw was at its largest at the time it functioned as regional capital of the Seljuk Empire, caravan traders have used the oases as stepping stone long before and long since. For caravans, Merw formed a cross roads on several routes, linking Khorezm, Bukhara and Samarkand to its north, to Bactria and Herat to its south when following the Murgab River to its origin. Even today, Mary Region has an entry point into Afghanistan. While the southern border areas are rarely visited and part of a protected national park, Mary and its many historical sites, see an ever-growing flow of visitors who want to experience the ancient Silk Road atmosphere. Mary is a pleasant town in its own right, with a bustling green-domed bazaar, and host to the famous Mary History and Ethnography Museum.

Darwaza Akchagsyan Ibragim Edhem Kunya Urgench Dashoguz Yzmukshir Islamut Ata Shahsenem Turkmenbashi Astana Baba Atamyrat Dinosaur Plateau Umbar Dere Koyten Kyrk Gyz Kainar Baba Gonur Depe Merw Mary Talkhatan Baba Soltanbent Yekedeshik Serhabat Serakhs Meane Baba Ulug Depe Kaahka Abiverd Anau Ashgabat Nissa Geok Depe Kowata Nohur Bokurdok Yerbent Magtymguly Serdar Parau Bibi Dehistan Balkanabad Ygdykala Gozli Ata Yangikala Yangisuw Turkmenbashi Awaza

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Mary Town

Mary is a typical provincial town, established in the 1880s by the tsarist armies as their next large hub on the Trans-Caspian Railway project, and successor of Bronze Age Margush and medieval Merw.

Mary Museum

Opened in 2009 at its new location in an impressive octagonal-shaped building, the museum houses the largest collection of artefacts found at the BMAC excavation sites of Bronze age Margush.

Merw Historical Park

Merw, located at the former banks of the Murghab River, was the most important Silk Road hub in the region, and particularly thriving as regional capital under Seljuk governor Sanjar. 

Merw - Erk Kala

Erk Kala shows the first step in the process of urbanization in Merw. The smallest and earliest site, also known as Alexandria-Margiana, comprises 20 hectares and was enclosed by massive walls and a moat.

Merw - Gyaur Kala

The Seleucids added a second walled city (IV c. BC), known today as Gyaur Kala, but which experts belief to be Antiokhia-Margiana. The 360 ha area  town planning reflects a Hellenistic grid pattern.

Merw - Sultan Kala

The Seljuk regional capital, consisting of an ark (governmental quarters), a shakhristan (citadel) and a rabat (bazaar), considerably exceeded Damascus and Jerusalem in size and population.

Merw - Abdulla Khan and Bairamali Khan Kalak

A few kilometers to the south of the ruins of the medieval Sultan Kala we find the post-medieval city, known today as Abdullakhan Kala, constructed in the period that Timurids ruled the area.

Merw - Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar

The highlight of an excursion through Merw is a visit to Sultan Sanjar’s mausoleum, the tall brick walls of which still dominate the landscape and functioned as a landmark for traveling  caravans.

Merw - Shahriar Ark

During Seljuk Sultan Sanjar’s reign the Shahriar Ark was constructed - a citadel within the citadel, protected by its own walls and moat. It housed crucial governmental and military buildings.

Merw - Mausoleum of Ibn Zaid

Another monument from the time of the Seljuk rule is the mausoleum dedicated to Mohamed ibn Said, with remarkable interior decorations. It remains unclear whose shrine is inside.

Merw - Shrine and pilgrim site of Yusuf Hamadani

The important complex includes a recently built mosque and minaret, the shrine and grave of Yusuf Hamadani (died in 1140), a Timurid iwan (portal), a prayer hall and pilgrim guesthouse facilities.

Merw - Kyz Kala Complex

Two outstanding massive monuments dating back to the Sassanid period are still visible on the territory of Ancient Merw - the Big Kyz Kala and Small Kyz Kala (VI-VII cc).

Merw - Ashkhabi shrines

Original set of graves from the time after the death of the prophet Mohamed, when ashkhabi  (“companions/campaigners of the Prophet”) helped the spread of the Islamic faith in their locality.

Merw - Ice houses

Various Ice houses (approximately XV c., Timurid rule) are visible in agriculture fields surrounding Merw. They are located above the ground, and are different from sordoba, water collection puts.

Margush and Gonur Depe

From 1971 onwards archeological teams did discoveries that reveal the importance of this area as a possible fifth center of ancient civilization, next to Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China.

Talkhatan Baba Mosque

Talkhatan Baba, located near the Murgab River near Yolotan town, is the name of an intricately brick decorated mosque, constructed in 1095 in the heydays of Seljuk rule of the region.

Ahun Baba Madrassa

Nearby is Ahun Baba, a madrassa (XIX c AD) called Kyrk Gummez (or Forty Cupolas), because it is made up of a courtyard surrounded by a square structure covered by 10 cupolas on each side.

Serakhs Baba Mausoleum

Old Serakhs (VI c. B.C. - XIX c. A.D.), one of the largest archaeological monuments of Southern Turkmenistan, is an urban site located at the upper reaches of the Tejen river near Serakhs.

Yekedshik cave complex

The complex of Yekedeshik is near Tagtabazar, which can be reached by an 8-hour strenuous drive from Mary. Caves stretch along the steep right bank of the Murgab River and over the Karabil Height.