Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, is home to numerous monuments that fuse Soviet architectural ideas with traditional Islamic geometric forms, such as the eight-pointed star seen on the Alem Entertainment Centre – the largest indoor Ferris wheel in the world.
This eight-pointed star, comprised of two overlapping squares, is called a rub el hizb and is an ornament often used to mark the end of passages in the Qur’an, the central and foundational religious text of Islam. The symbol appears all over the city in lifts, on railings, windows, street furniture, paving stones, and billboards.
Not far from the Uzbekistan border lie the ruins of Konye-Urgench. The city was the capital of the Persian Khwarazmian civilisation and for centuries sat proudly at one of the main crossroads of the Silk Road.
In 1221, Genghis Khan destroyed the city during the Mongol invasion of Central Asia. The city bounced back but was razed again a century later by Timur (Tamerlane), the founder of the Timurid dynasty.
All that remains today are the Turabek-Khanum Mausoleum and the 60-metre tall Kutlug-Timur Minaret.
The Il-Arslan mausoleum also remains, alongside a few other ruins.
The city’s art and architectural styles, however, lived on through the civilisations they influenced such as the Mughal Empire, which once covered Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.