UNESCO World Heritage-listed Merv

History buffs will be in heaven at Merv, one of the centres of the ancient Islamic world and nowadays a vast palimpsest of wracked cities, lost to a bloody, battle-ridden past. Where camels now patrol the desert once the marauding armies of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan laid siege, and the impressive remains such as the Kyz Kala, with its parade of enormous clay columns, hint at Merv’s former riches. Merv was populated from 6th century BC to the 1900s, and the site is massive, with ruins like the icehouses and fine mausoleums illustrating the sophisticated nature of the civilisations that made their home here over the ages. An atmospheric walk around history amidst Turkmenistan’s eastern savannah.

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