Mary city is the fourth largest city in Turkmenistan located in the middle of the Karakum Desert. The city is very young; it was established in 1884 as a military-administrative center of the Russian Empire. Almost 140 years is nothing compared to cities like Samarkand or Bukhara that are more than 2,000 years old! After becoming a part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, Mary city followed typical path of many other Central Asian cities, nothing major happened. Modern city is the largest center of cotton growing and the main center of gas industry; side note, gas is the main income of Turkmenistan.
Mary has interesting museums with extensive collections archaeological findings, Turkmenian carpets, silver, and national costumes. The city is known for carpet weaving. Carpets differ according to where they were made. Teke tribe applies secret techniques and produces the best examples of carpet weaving. The most famous Turkmenian horse breed – Akhal-Teke- is raised in Mary. They are called “Golden Horses” for their unique metallic sheen. Akhal-Teke is pictured on a national emblem. The city seems to be a mediocre Central Asian, except for carpets and horses, and it’s. You might think that there’s nothing interesting, but you’re wrong!
Mary city is located 30 km away from one of the biggest archaeological excavations in Central Asia – Merv. In fact, Mary was called Merv until 1937. Merv is the most ancient city in Central Asia and one of the most ancient settlements in the world! It’s the best thing that could happen to Turkmenistan. This ancient city had existed for five centuries and managed to preserve its significance under different rulers. It had always been either the capital of an empire, or the largest city, before it was destroyed by the Mongols in 14th century. This architectural monument is included in UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique treasury of history of Central Asia.