Beautiful Ruins

We have been in Turkmenistan for about three weeks now, and have met many new people and seen many new things.

Our first real “outing” in-country was to a mosque just outside of Ashgabat. It is the shrine of Seyit Jamal ad-Din. It was an architectural monument of the XV century, but  now lies in ruins because of the 1948 earthquake. It is nevertheless stunningly beautiful, and many Turkmen make pilgrimages there.

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The view of the shrine of Seyit Jamal ad-Din as you approach. This used to be the back of the mosque.

Before the earthquake, the shrine was known for its distinctive and ornately decorated mosaic – depicting two dragons – over the central arch. Today, the base of the pillars of the mosque are still visible.

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Pilgrims walk around a shrine in front of the remnants of the mosque’s once ornate pillars.

Pieces of the mosaic that covered the archway are scattered about. They give you a sense of just how beautiful this place was.

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Remnants of mosaic tiles give a glimpse of the mosque’s former beauty.

Amongst the rubble, you see trinkets everywhere. Parents leave these while praying for the birth of children – a key if you want a boy, and a hairpin if you want a girl. I’m told this practice is unconventional for Islam, and stems from local traditional beliefs.

Keys and hairpins left at the shrine by parents praying for the birth of children.

Keys and hairpins left at the shrine by parents praying for the birth of children.

After visiting the shrine, many families stop at a nearby building to eat. There is no restaurant, but out-door stoves and large pans are provided for preparation of foods.

A small building provided for eating and rest after a pilgrimage.

A small building provided for eating and rest after a pilgrimage.

Local women clean after preparing food for their families.

Local women clean after preparing food for their families.

No matter what your religion, the Shrine of Seyit Jamal ad-Din is a beautiful and serene place to visit.

Remnants of the great pillars that once stood at the mosque.

Remnants of the great pillars that supported the famous arch that once stood at the mosque.

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2 thoughts on “Beautiful Ruins

  1. Would love to get to this part of the world. Look forward to reading more about your adventures. Your posts reminded me of a vegetarian friend who went to a wedding in Turkmenistan a few years back and couldn’t find anything to eat. Sounds like a meat-eaters paradise!

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