Ashgabat is a modern city in the middle of Kara-Kum desert. It was founded by the Russians to house the Russian garrison and the headquarters for the Transcaspian Railroad. The city still shows its military and bureaucratic originsits orderly clean and uninteresting.
Most of the monuments and sights are very recent and have one purpose to hail the president Turkmenbasi. The oil-boom has made Turkmenistan oil rich, and has given the government the possibility to spend money on fountains and big posh hotels and palaces.
Start your visit in the central area where there is an old fortress. Skobelev Square is also worth a look. Head out to see the surreal Islamic-style Lenin Monument, do a carpet factory (there are nine in town) skip the Turkmenistan History Museum and the Exhibition of Economic Achievements. As carpets are the pride of the nation dont miss the new Turkmen Carpet Museum that has on display the largest carpet in the worlda 2 000-sq-ft/190-sq-m Tekke Bukhara.