Merv, Margush and Gonur Depe

Merv, Margush, Gonur Depe

Travelers to Turkmenistan will not want to miss the treasure trove of ruins scattered in its southeastern corner. Gonur Depe, a Turkmen phrase meaning Gray Hill, is an active archaeological site of the ancient capital of Margush. Attracting tourists from all over the world with its newly unearthed secrets, Gonur Depe has become one of the most popular destinations in Turkmenistan. Nearby Merv once evoked awe among countless Silk Road travelers, while today its stratified layers of earthen remains attest to the five different eras of civilizations that once made their home in this desert outpost.
The Merv, Margush and Gonur Depe Tour is two days of archaeological exploration at Merv and Gonur Depe in Margush. This tour is a great option for history buffs and amateur explorers alike, and is unique in that it begins both days from the city of Mary, from which you can quickly reach both excavation sites with a private guide and a driver experienced on the roads of outback Turkmenistan.

Your guide and driver will meet you in the morning at your hotel in Mary. Travel to Merv (40 km, 40min), an ancient trade center on the Great Silk Road and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guided sightseeing tour of Merv will include:
  • Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum (12th century) – Considered by many to be the most majestic architectural monument of Merv, this mausoleum amazes with its thick walls, symmetrical proportions and domed top that displays amazing architectural craftsmanship for its day.
  • Greater Kyz Kala and Lesser Kyz Kala (8th-9th centuries) - These unique fortified homes are built of mud brick, with no known archeological equivalents.
  • Askhab Mausoleums (9th-12th centuries) - Built for two of the prophet Muhammad’s earliest disciples, the Askhab Mausoleums are one of Turkmenistan’s most important pilgrimage sites today.
  • Erk Kala (6th century BC), the seat of ancient Merv and its oldest settlement, whose remaining walls are nearly 30 meters high. Climb the walls for a great view of the surrounding area.
  • Gyaur Kala (3rd century BC) - Merv’s second oldest settlement, famous for its thick walls that stretch for two kilometers.
  • Beni Makhan Mosque (7th- 9th centuries) - Also called the Juma Mosque, it’s located in the center of ancient Gyaur Kala, along with an intact cistern that still functions today.
  • Muhammad Ibn Zeid Mausoleum (12th century) - A popular Sufi shrine and one of the city’s finest structures due to its symmetrical architecture and the Arabic inscriptions chiseled into its walls.
After completing the sightseeing tour of Old Merv, return to Mary to visit the Mary History Museum. Housed in a marble hall, the museum has six main exhibition rooms holding artifacts from ancient and modern times.
Overnight in Mary hotel.
Tour duration: 5-6 hours
After breakfast, your guide and driver will meet you at hotel reception to travel to Gonur Depe (100 km, 1.5hrs).
Gonur Depe (2000 BC) is the largest settlement in historical Margiana, also known as Margush. Spend the afternoon walking among the remains of a sprawling city that contained a palace, temples with fire altars, living quarters, ovens and extensive burial grounds, including a royal tomb with skeletal remains.
Drop off at your Mary hotel. End of Merv, Margush and Gonur Depe Tour.
Tour duration: 5-6 hours

Price includes:

  • Private, local guide;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Transport throughout the tour (1-2 sedan, 3-8 minivan).

Download the PDF brochure for the Merv, Margush and Gonur Depe Tour

We hope you will enjoy delving into the ancient history and rich cultural heritage of Turkmenistan. From the timeless ruins of Merv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the fascinating archaeological sites of Margush and Gonur Depe, you have explored some of the most significant landmarks in Central Asia. We trust that these two days have provided you with captivating insights, stunning photos, and cherished memories of Turkmenistan's unique historical treasures. We look forward to welcoming you on future tours to uncover more of Turkmenistan's wonders. Book your Turkmenistan Tour with OREXCA.

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