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2021  N5-6(194-195)
Day of Ashgabat, which is traditionally celebrated on May 25, was especially impressive this year. It was held on a large scale and remembered for various events dedicated to the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Turkmen capital.
The initiative to widely celebrate this date in the year of the 30th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence belongs to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, and it was put forward by him during his January working tour of the city.
Preparations for the 140th anniversary of Ashgabat began long before the actual day. On February 26, the President of Turkmenistan signed a resolution at a government meeting, approving the plan of anniversary events and establishing the governmental commission in charge of preparations for the celebration.
The document provided for holding over thirty major events, including the preparation of a cycle of television programs, documentary and feature films, festive celebrations, ceremonies for the commissioning of new facilities for various purposes, concerts, exhibitions, poetry readings, art contests, presentation of new works, forums, sports and environmental actions. In addition, numerous local events were planned to mark the anniversary of the capital city that took place at cultural and educational institutions, industry departments and public associations, private enterprises.
A series of official commissioning of new architectural facilities started on April 12. On this day, the head of state took part in the opening of new offices of the state commercial bank “Turkmenbashi” and the joint-stock commercial bank “Senagat”. Two days later, the building of the People’s Council of Turkmenistan was inaugurated, followed by the opening of the International Congress Center and the Reception Center on April 15.
In the second decade of April, the Centers of the International Association of Akhal-Teke Horse Breeding and the International Association “Turkmen Alabay” were put into operation during the first-ever joint celebration of Day of Akhal-Teke Horse and Day of Turkmen Alabay.
The commissioning of 140 comfortable two-storey cottages in the Choganly area on May 25 became a worthy gift for the day of founding the capital city. On the same day, the ceremony of laying the foundation of the large-scale residential complex “Ashgabat City” was held in the north of Ashgabat.
As is known, thanks to its unique facilities Ashgabat has set 11 records over 10 years that were included in the Guinness Book of World Records. Obviously, the number of these records will increase, taking into account the tasks set for architects and designers, requiring that all new facilities in the capital city should combine the traditions of national architecture with avant-garde solutions and embody all the latest and most progressive ideas of the world architecture and urban planning.
In any event, the original architectural facilities developed for the grandiose project “Ashgabat-City” can be classified as fitting such requirements. This large-scale complex with a total area of 744 hectares can be called a “city within a city”, as it features over two hundred facilities for various purposes, forming urban infrastructure with all relevant conditions for comfortable living and recreation.
The beauty of white-marble Ashgabat, surrounded by the emerald green of squares and alleys, emphasized by the smooth lines of modern highways, inspired by the sculptural statues of the heroes of national history and culture, cannot but inspire the works of art in its honor. In this regard, it is significant that concerts and contests for creation of new works of different genres in celebration of the main city of the country took place on the eve of the 140th anniversary of Ashgabat.
On March 26, an art marathon in honor of the 140th anniversary of the capital began with a concert in the Great Hall of the Turkmen National Conservatory. The concert program included musical compositions and songs about Ashgabat.
Special expositions were set up in the country’s museums. The thematic exhibition “Ashgabat – City of Prosperity” at the capital’s Museum of Fine Arts presented the works by masters of fine and decorative arts, as well as students, including the works on the history of the city, its modern appearance, as well as sketches of future new buildings.
In early May, it was reported that the Secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially accepted the application for nomination of the Turkmen capital for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in “Design” category.
Ashgabat is the largest business, administrative and socio-political center of the country with the great cultural, creative and intellectual potential. And the fact that UNESCO views the Turkmen capital as part of the system of dynamically developing cities of the world testifies to its role in the international dialogue of cultures.
The aspects of development of the country’s main city are covered in the new book “White City of Ashgabat” by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov that the Turkmen leader presented to his compatriots on the occasion of the significant date. The official presentation of the new work was held in the square near the White City of Ashgabat monument on May 8. The Turkmen leader’s new book was also presented during the ceremonies at public associations, higher education establishments and various sectorial departments of the country.
On the eve of Day of Ashgabat, the results of the short feature film contest “Ashgabat Spring” were summed up. The art project, which started this February, highly resonated among the Turkmen people who love their beautiful capital and want to tell about it in the language of cinema.
The major goal of the contest is to find talents and promote artistic self-expression. Therefore, both professionals and everyone wishing to present their vision of Ashgabat’s transformation over the years of independence were invited to participate in the contest. Contest screenings were held in the second decade of May at “Ashgabat” cinema center in the capital city. The contestants represented all parts of the country. Of 30 applications, the jury accepted 10 best works. The competent experts assessed and awarded prizes in the following nominations: best script, direction, male and female roles, camera work. The audience and jury choice prizes were also awarded. The main prize of “Ashgabat Spring” film contest was awarded to the film “My Father”. The same film was awarded a special jury prize.
All national theater groups prepared their art gifts for the holiday. On May 12-16, a number of plays premiered at the festival-contest “Turkmen Theater Art”. The best works included play “The Tree of Life” by the Main Drama Theater, “Ode of Courage” by the National Music and Drama Theater named after Magtymguly, “The Legend of Archman” by the Drama Theater of Mary province. Prizes were awarded to the best acting and directing works, drama and scenography and the winner of the special nomination “young talent”.
The cycle of anniversary events featured the festival of vocal and choral music, during which teachers of the Maya Kuliyeva National Conservatory and leading theater actors held master classes for young performers. The festival participants performed the works that Turkmen composers dedicated to the main city of the country.
It was perhaps for the first time in the history of Ashgabat that so many literary works, poems, songs and video clips were dedicated to it. Although the residents of the country have always declared their love for the capital city, these feelings are especially strong in the jubilee year.
On May 20, the Center of Public Associations summed up the results of another art contest. The expert jury chose 5 winners in the following nominations: the best article about the achievements of Ashgabat, the best poetic work praising the white marble capital, as well as photographs on the history and modern city.
The winners of the essay and art photography competitions among students of the country’s higher education establishments were also named. These competitions were organized by the International University for Humanities and Development with the support of the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan.
Representatives of many countries congratulated the city dwellers on the significant date – the 140th anniversary of Ashgabat. On this occasion, online meetings were held with leaders and workers in the sphere of culture and art of foreign countries, including the twin cities of the Turkmen capital, international forums and creative actions.
On May 20, an international video conference of mayors of friendly cities and sister cities of Ashgabat was held. The festive forum was virtually attended by heads of administrative structures of capitals and cities of different countries of the world, both neighboring and distant. There was also held a meeting of heads of city administrations, cultural workers and masters of arts of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Turkey. The event was also attended by representatives of the Austrian-Turkmen society and the city of Albuquerque of the state of New Mexico, USA, as a sign of friendship and solidarity with the Turkmen people, who declared May 25, 2021, Ashgabat’s sister city day. The official part was followed by the performances by foreign cultural figures and masters of arts.
The art marathon continued on May 21 at the “White City of Ashgabat” monument. Soloists from the twin cities of the Turkmen capital - Tashkent, Dushanbe, Nur-Sultan, Bishkek, Ankara, Albuquerque, as well as the partner city of Yerevan took part in the festive musical flash mob in the video format. Together with the stars of Turkmenistan, popular singers wearing national costumes of their countries performed a new song in the Turkmen language dedicated to the white marble capital. The sights of their home cities that in different years became twin cities of Ashgabat served as the background for the performances.
New collections of Turkmen fashion designers dedicated to the anniversary of Ashgabat were demonstrated during the festivities. Fashion models sparkled on the catwalks, presenting clothes from designers of the Ministry of Textile Industry of Turkmenistan and private fashion houses.
The International Universal Exhibition and Conference “White City of Ashgabat”, traditionally timed to coincide with Day of Ashgabat, was held for the twentieth time on May 24-25. More than 90 state and private structures, as well as foreign companies operating in the country participated in the exhibition. It mirrored the rhythms of the dynamic life of the capital and covered the entire spectrum of functioning of the big city - from infrastructure modernization to the development of culture, tourism and sports. Visitors also had the opportunity to view the works by architects who took part in the relevant contest.
The birthday of the capital city was celebrated at the “Ashgabat” song and music center, and graduates of the capital’s secondary schools were honored on the square in front of the State Circus. Popular songs about Ashgabat and new dedications to the beautiful capital were performed in the open space venues.
On behalf of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, gifts were presented and congratulations were conveyed to the parents of the first children born in the Turkmen capital on the day of the 140th anniversary of Ashgabat. The babies were born at the Scientific and Clinical Center for Maternal and Child Health. A boy was born to the family of Selbi and Islam Orazmyradovs, and a girl was born to the family of Ayna and Yazmukhammet Atadzhikovs. Both newborns are firstborns in these families. The parents of the newborns named the boy Ashgabat and the girl Merjen, translated as “pearl”. Happy parents expressed their gratitude to the head of state for the state policy to support families, motherhood and care for the younger generation.
A gala concert with participation of art masters concluded the celebrations in honor of the main city of the country. Its final chord was the song “White City of Ashgabat” on the verses by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov that sounded as an anthem of the great love of the country’s residents for their flourishing capital.
On the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the Turkmen capital and the day of last school bell, festive fireworks lit up the sky over Ashgabat, marking the end of the unforgettable day.
140 years is a moment on the scale of the thousand-year history of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat is a young, sunny, hospitable, beautiful and future-oriented city. It is growing and developing. Most importantly, it keeps an extraordinary atmosphere of openness and sincerity that comes from its residents who celebrated the birthday of their beloved capital with great enthusiasm.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005