"Jınlı Aydaçılar Qandışı"
("City of the Mad Drivers")
Location of Aşğabat within Turkestan
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- Total (as of 2008)
- summer (DST)
|Turkestan Standard Time (UTC+6:00)|
Turkestan Summer Time (UTC+7:00)
For much of its history, Aşğabat was in the shadow of its fellow Turcoman city Merv. It was only after the Russian conquest of the area in the XIX Century that the city of Aşğabat, chosen as an administrative centre, came into its own.
In the Basmaçı Revolt and the following Qurultaı period, Aşğabat's fortunes waned slightly due to its previous status as a Russian administrative centre, but not by as much as some cities (see eg Almalıq). The plain fact was that its administrative infrastructure was too useful to go to waste, and as (unlike Almalıq) the city was not actually destroyed, there was no specific reason to abandon it wholesale.
Following the downfall of the SNOR, this status as a provincial capital continued.
Türkümänistan Vılayat is the most traditional of the six provinces of Turkestan, and even in this, its most cosmopolitan city, you are as likely to see traditionally-dressed people on the streets as people dressed in Western style, or the compromise "Western-clothes-plus-Central Asian-hat" styles found in other large Turkestani cities.
Turcomans have a reputation in Turkestan as terrible drivers, and nowhere is the reason for this reputation more evident than in their capital Aşğabat. The city also has a reputation for substandard upkeep of its highways, which does not help the driving situation at all. Aşğabat's unflattering nickname, ("City of the Mad Drivers") seldom used by the Turcomans themselves, derives from this. Even Aşğabatıs themselves acknowledge that only a resident (who has no choice), a drunk, or a fool willingly drives into the centre of town.
Perhaps in rueful acknowledgement of the city's reputation for lunatic driving, large parts of the city centre are pedestrianised. No motorised vehicular traffic is permitted in these pedestrian zones except for trams and trolleybuses. Local wit suggests that these are only permitted because everyone can tell where they are going to go.
The city does boast some of the most extensive public transport systems for its size of any city in Central Asia, under the aegis of the Globus public transport company, including trams, trolleybuses and regular buses, as well as a new light monorail track running from the aerodrome to the city centre. The elevated monorail opened in 2007.