Balkanabat, Turkmenistan

Balkanabat - oil town

Balkanabat is a new town with around 88,000 inhabitants in Turkmenistan. The town is on the south front of the Major Balkan plateau to the west of Turkmenistan. There is an airport not far from the city and Turkmenbashi is situated 13 km northwest of the city.

Balkanabat was founded in 1933 when large oil reservoirs were discovered. The city gained city status in 1946. At first Nefte-Dag or Nebit-Dag was the city’s name (Oil Mountain). In 1999, Balkanabat was renamed the city. Modern times are where a major manufacturing complex is being actively developed and extended. Balkanabat has also today been the capital of Turkmenistan’s oil and gas industry. The memorial to the city is a flare-silhouette-like monument against the mountain not without purpose.

The history of Balkanabat is very much tied to the use of the Goturdepe, Barsagelmes and Nebitdag deposits. The nation needed major petroleum and gas supplies after World War II. In tentes, tilt carts, with no electricity and often no water, the first colonists had to survive in incredibly poor conditions. A “Trailblazers” architectural memorial ensemble, one of the most significant sights of the region, was built in memory of geologists pioneers. The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, built in 1990, is another place of interest in the area.

There are also many points of interest in the suburbs of Balkanabat. Early man sites of the Northern Offsets of Kopetdag mountains were uncovered by Neolithic and Mesolithic. The medieval Tasharvat Caravanserai is situated close to the spring of Tasharva, 38 km from the village. There is a picturesque grove next to it where the ancient English elms grow for over a hundred years.