When it comes to art and culture, carpet making is one of the major images of Turkmenistan. For Turkmen people, carpet making is equally important as the pyramids do for Egyptians. It is one of the oldest arts in Turkmenistan and the region as a whole. The art of carpet weaving was passed from generation to generation and today one can single out several types of Turkmen carpets, each having individual design. The five traditional designs form the social classification of Turkmen people which is been characterized by tribal structure for many centuries. The major Turkmen tribes are Teke, Yomut, Ersary, Chowdur, Saryk and Salyr. Origin of ornamental carpet designs has realistic basis. Reality surrounding a carpet-weaver was reflected in the carpet design: vegetation and animal kingdom, fields etc. These designs that have preserved for centuries are of emphatic national character.
In parallel to that, Turkmenistan has some of the most fascinating monuments of Central Asia’s Islamic and pre-Islamic architecture. Although perhaps not as visually spectacular as some other monuments of Central Asia and Persia, Turkmenistan’s heritage sites are beyond comparison not only for their age, but also for their original state - almost unspoilt by later reconstruction and restoration.
We have put together this programme for the traveller who wants to get acquainted with the secrets of Turkmen cultural traditions and carpets, as well as its history. The unique point of that itinerary is that you will not only witness the entire process of carpet making, but also be able to learn and explore the difference in weaving and dying techniques between people living in one country.
Carpet tour in Turkmenistan (15 days/14 nights)
Ashgabat - Turkmenbashi - Balkanabat - Merv - Dashoguz
Accommodation: 14 nights at the Hotels
Day 1 - Ashgabat arrival, city tour, Annau ruins
Early morning arrival to Ashgabat. Transfer to hotel Nissa 4*. Morning free. Afternoon excursion of Ashgabat, including a visit of the Arch of Neutrality and Independence. Visit the of the city mosque , Ashgabat’s largest Mosque, and the memorial dedicated to the victims of the 1948 earthquake, which completely destroyed the city. Visit the historical site of Annau mosque, which includes two historical monuments northern and southern Anau Depe (4-3 millennium BC) and the Annau mosque (15th c AD). Overnight at hotel.
Day 2 - Tolkuchka Bazaar, Nissa fortress and National Museum
The Tolkuchka Bazaar in Ashgabat is by far Turkmenistan's No. 1 sight and a visit should not be missed. Most colourfully dressed this is where practically the entire country comes together to trade on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Basically anything and everything importance is traded within the 50 ha of open-air bazaar from camels and sheep to amulets, antiques, carpets and jewelry. In its authenticity the buzzing Tolkuchka Bazaar easily rivals with the famed Kashgar Bazzar. Excursion to Old Nissa (II c. BC). This site includes the remains of the Parthian fortress of Nissa. In ancient times this fortress included the treasury of the Kings of the Arshakid dynasty. Visit the National Museum of Turkmenistan. This museum has 9 halls, each dedicated to a particular period and theme. One of the highlights in the museum is a unique collection of ivory rythons/ horn like vessels. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 - Bakharden carpet factory
A full day visit to the Bakharden carpet factory (100 km) where the famous Turkmen carpets are made. This part of the country is extremely famous for making the Teke carpets. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4 - Ashgabat-Turkmenbashy-Balkanabat
Morning flight to the town of Turkmenbashy. On arrival a short excursion of the city and the Caspian Sea. After lunch we set off for a 3 hrs drive to Balkanabat, the centre of this region. Overnight at a very good 4 star hotel Nebitchi.
Day 5 - Balkanabat carpet factory
Today we pay a visit to the local carpet factory making the Youmut carpets. We will witness the process of carpet-making and find out the difference in styles, ornament and some weaving techniques. Overnight in Balkanabat.
Day 6 - Balkanabat-Ashgabat
After having a breakfast we head for Ashgabat, covering 410 km. En route we will visit the pilgrimage place of Paraw-Bibi where we will have a picnic lunch. The actual shrine is set some 100 meters up a rocky mountainside overlooking the village and consists of a white mausoleum-like structure. On arrival to Ashgabat overnight at the Nissa hotel.
Day 7 - Ashgabat, Meane Baba, Mary
In the morning we continue our trip eastwards to the ruins to the most important site of Turkmen history the ruins of Merv, some 380 km east of Ashgabat. En route we visit the Meane Baba Mausoleum. The Mausoleum of Abu Said Makneyi was built in 11th century and has the double dome that characterises mausoleums of that time. The inner part of the mausoleum is decorated with inscriptions while the portal is laced with mosaics. The mosaics offer various colours and pictures to the viewer. The entire mausoleum is decorated with Arabic inscriptions upon the outer area and designs ornate in inner areas. On arrival in Mary we visit the local museum. Overnight in Mary at a newly built 4* hotel Margush.
Day 8 - Mary carpet factory
Today we visit the local carpet factory where Saryk carpets are made. This type of Turkmen carpets has its own distinct character and differs from the rest of Turkmen carpets. Overnight in Mary.
Day 9 - Mary, Merv, Turkmenabat
Before driving to Turkmenabat (260 km) we'll visit the old city of Merv. Visit the unique series of cities, not built on top of each other, as is so often the case, for instance at Damascus or Jerusalem, but constructed on adjacent virgin sites. The sites of the ancient town Erk-Kala (the fortress- citadel), Gyaur-Kala, Sultan-Kala, Abdulla-khan-Kala correspond to the different periods of Mervs' existence .The monuments we will tour and walk through are the Great and Little Kiz Kalas, the Kiz Bibi mausoleum, the magnificent Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, the Palace and keshk in the Shahriar Ark or Royal Citadel, the mosque of Yusuf Hamdani, the Timuridiwans or Askhab, and the Mausoleum of Muhammad ibn Zaud. Today we sleep in the not-so comfortable hotel.
Day 10 - Turkmenabat, Halach carpet factory
This time we drive south towards the border with Afghanistan to a small city of Halach, where people make the Beshir carpets, which actually have a lot in common with the Afghan carpets and very similar to them both in ornaments and weaving techniques. Overnight in Turkmenabat.
Day 11 - Turkmenabat, Ashgabat
Before taking an afternoon flight back to Ashgabat, we visit the ruins of Amul fortress. On arrival transfer to Nissa hotel. Free time. Afterwards we visit a family of silk makers in a private house nearby the city center. Turkmen Silk and embroidery are outstanding within Central Asia, with each different pattern identifying the tribe of its artist like a family seal. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 - Ashgabat, Dashogus, Kune Urgench
In the morning we catch an AM flight to Dashoguz. Once we’ve arrived our day’s activity continues by visiting Kunya-Urgench (100 km) and will include the Mausoleum of Soltan Tekesh XII-XIII cc., the Monument of Torebeg Hanum XII c, and a stop at the highest minaret in Central Asia- the Minaret of Kutlug Temur XI-XII cc. We come back to Dashogus for overnight at a comfortable 3* hotel Uzboy.
Day 13 - Dashoguz, Carpet factory
Today we pay a visit to the carpet factory in this area (30 km) where both Yuomut and Beshir carpets are made. Once again we explore the differences in making and styles, even from the same tribal group. Overnight in Dashogus.
Day 14 - Dashogus, Ashgabat
Late in the morning we take a flight back to Ashgabat. On arrival we have a free time. Later in the afternoon we visit the Carpet Museum. The museum has a large and impressive collection of antique carpets, carpet articles/ chuvals, khurjuns, torba etc./ and also two first biggest carpets, made in Turkmenistan. In the evening we have a dinner with folk show at the “Ensi Gallery”. The gallery displays an excellent private collection of ancient Turkmen dress and jewelry from all over the country. Throughout the evening we will see an extraordinary fashion presentation of the combined modern and traditional collection of our host as well as a folklore presentation of some of the most traditional Turkmen dances and songs. Overnight at the hotel.
Day - 15 Departure
We take an early morning flight back home via Istanbul.
P.S. Please email us to customize the tour and get a quote.