The Telegraph: ancient Merv – in the TOP 10 highlights of the Silk road

Merv, one of the oldest historical sites of Turkmenistan, is among the ten greatest highlights of the Silk road, according to the The Telegraph.

The ranking also includes the cities of Shiraz (Iran), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Osh (Kyrgyzstan), Penjikent (Tajikistan), XI’an (China), Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand (Uzbekistan), Orkhon river valley in Mongolia.

The first historical mention of Merv or Margu is contained in cuneiform texts. It is known that the Merv oasis was a home for the flourished centre of the Margiana civilization, which historians place on the same level with other world civilizations such as the Egyptian, Chinese, Mesopotamian, Harappan.

“In the medieval period, Merv was given a special epithet Shahjahan, that is literally translated as “the kings’ soul”. The other epithet, mentioned in the chronicles was “Mother of all Horasan cities” and “The City that the world rests on”,  writes President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov in his unique work “Turkmenistan –heart of the Great Silk road”, which tells about the role of the ancient caravan routes in the history of the Turkmen people and state.

State historical and cultural park Ancient Merv, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999, and nowadays, as many centuries ago, serves as a center of cultural attraction. A visit to the Merv fortresses of Gyz gala, Erk gala, the mausoleum of the Seljuk ruler Sultan Sanjar and other monuments has become an essential part of the trendy tourist product on the Eurasian continent – traveling along the legendary Silk road.

The history is replete with examples of lengthy trade corridors, but, without exaggeration, none of them is comparable to the Silk road. And the reason is not even in the geographical scale. The Silk road was 6500 kilometers of extensive caravan trails that connected about four dozen countries.

The desire for the knowledge on the world around, keen interest in history, sports records, adventure spirit, wanderlust …everyone probably has their own motives, prompting to explore the medieval routes, which served not only for merchants, but also for movement of the great conquerors, scientists, writers and philosophers. Someone wants to visit the ruins of ancient settlements, markets of which traded with silk, salt, sugar, fragrant spices, ivory, precious stones and others aim to visit lands, crossed by the ideas of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

In the modern era, the Silk road is still the most reliable corridor connecting the East and the West with thousands of kilometers of electrified railways, highways, air flights and marine voyages, gas pipelines, high-voltage power lines, fiber-optic lines.

The ultramodern industrial clusters, cities and towns with developed transport and communication infrastructure emerged near the ancient Merv, Amul, Kunyaurgench, Nisa and other sites.

Turkmenistan is not only an active participant in the integration transformations taking place in Eurasia, driven by the idea of reviving the economic role of the Silk road, but also a strong supporter of the preservation, study and promotion of the great cultural and historical heritage of this grandiose route.