The most outstanding monument of Turkmenistan is the Sultan Ahmad Sanjar mausoleum which is situated in the center of fortress Sultan Kala. Nearby there are great buildings such as palaces of Seljuq governors and a mosque.
The Sultan Ahmad Sanjar mausoleum which means “The next world” reflects the best years of the great Seljuq dynasty. The height of the building is 38 meters, the width is 27 meters and the walls are 5 meters thick near the ground. The construction has a form of cube. A dome consists of two thin stone covers (the outside cover made of turquoise wasn’t saved), under it there are three-tiered perforating galleries in the form of arches. Such an architectural technique was used by an Italian Filippo Brunelleschi while engineering the dome of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower in Florence. It was three centuries later in Renaissance.
Ahmad Sanjar was a sultan of the Seljuq Empire from 1118 to 1153 from the Seljuq dynasty.
Sultan Sanjar was born in 1086. Since he was a boy Ahmad was used to the power and luxury. In youth he got Khorasan to rule. He was a cunning politician and attacked his brother. He was a great warrior and conquered a karakhanid army.
At the age of 30 he became a governor of the Seljuq Empire that occupied lands from Amu-Darya to Mediterranean Sea. During his governing the capital of the country became Merv. Sultan Sanjar governing was golden age of sciences and arts. The great poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam worked in Sultan’s observatory and historian Al-Samani wrote tractates about Merv history in 20 books and Baghdad history in 15 books.
The mausoleum was built in 1140 B.C. and in 17 years Sanjar was buried there. However, in 1221 Sultan’s dust was reburied in the unknown place. An inscription on the façade says: “This place is ennobled by the remains of Sultan Senjar from Seljuk Turks. He was fare as Alexander the Great, he was a patron of scientists and poets, was taken to the Islam world in the state of flowering and happiness thanks to sciences and arts.”
Every historical monument is followed by a beautiful legend.
Once upon a time, Sultan Sanjar fell in love with a sky peri (fairy). The beautiful girl set three conditions:
1. Never spy on her when she brushes her hair;
2. Not looking at her feet;
3. Not hugging her.
Curiosity was stronger than Sultan and he broke his word. When the fairy was brushing her hair she took off her head and put it on the gold dish. The beautiful girl was walking on the ground, she was floating. Finally, when Sanjar tried to hug his love he noticed that she is immaterial.
Angry fairy disappeared but before it she said that Sultan has to build a building of a remarkable beauty. The sky-blue dome has to be seen on a day’s walk distance. Through an outlet in the dome the fairy promised to come to sad Sultan every Holy Friday.
At present the monument is a place for pilgrimage of thousands believers. It is also the main sight for foreign tourists.