At the western tip of Turkmenistan is the coastal city of Turkmenbashi – the largest city in the Balkanabat region. The city is located next to the Caspian Sea and is named after the country’s former president, Saparmurat Niyazov, who called himself ‘Turkmenbashi’ – translated to the Turkmen leader . The area was originally established by the Russian Empire in the year 1869 and was named Kislovodsk, which means Red Water . The city first changed its name in connection with Turkmenistan’s independence in 1991.
As is the trend in Turkmenistan, in Turkmenbashi one encounters here and there a number of beautiful constructions – for example large, extravagant statues in many roundabouts – but if one compares this with Ashgabat, the city is markedly under-designed and, in that way, one might get a more authentic feel of the country in comparison to the capital. Strategically, however, Turkmenbashi is of great importance, due to the large petroleum and gas reserves of the western countryside. The city, for example, has a large industrial area by the harbor and also houses the country’s largest oil refinery. In addition, you will find Turkmenbashi International Airport, from where you can fly to Ashgabat and Istanbul, among other places.
If you are in Turkmenbashi, you can, for example, visit the Cheryomushki Bazaar, where it is possible to find caviar at reasonable prices due to the amount of fish eggs in the Caspian Sea. Next to the water you will also find the hotel area Awasa – better known as the ‘tourist zone’. Read more about this here .