The City of White Marble: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Travel photographer Amos Chapple recently crossed into Turkmenistan on a three-day transit visa and was able to photograph many of the sights and monuments in Ashgabat, the capital and largest city. Turkmenistan is a single-party country, a former Soviet state, run by a president at the center of a cult of personality. Chapple: "Twice before I'd had tourist visa applications rejected, so it felt like entering a forbidden place. When we drove into Ashgabat I assumed there was some kind of holiday taking place -- the streets and all these beautiful parks stood deserted. In the area I first walked there were more soldiers than civilians. They patrol the city center and are extremely jumpy about photographs. Twice, soldiers shouted at me from a distance then ran up and demanded pictures be deleted." Ashgabat was recently noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most white marble-clad buildings in the world -- 543 new buildings lined with white marble covering a total area of 4.5 million square meters. (Also, see earlier photographs by Chapple featured here in March: A Trip to Iran)

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

    Photos of the Week: Water Forest, Royal Barge, Abandoned Boxers

    A caged Nativity scene in California, the new prime minister of Finland, “big air” in Beijing, a volcanic eruption in New Zealand, Christmas lights in Philadelphia, and much more

  • Borut Zivulovic / Reuters

    A Visit From Krampus—Saint Nick’s Dark Companion

    While tales of Saint Nicholas feature him bringing gifts to good boys and girls, ancient folklore in Europe’s Alpine region also speaks of Krampus, a frightening beastlike creature who looks for naughty children to punish in horrible ways—or possibly to drag back to his lair in a sack.

  • 2019: The Year in Volcanic Activity

    Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava.

  • Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Wayward Tee, Pollution Pod, Windy Wall

    Christmas lights in New York City, fall colors in Japan, a sandy traffic jam in Miami, the Tactual Museum of Athens, a Santa run in Glasgow, and much more