World Bulletin / News Desk
The locals call a giant burning pit that has spit out flames for more than 40 years the Door to Hell.
"It takes your breath away," said Gozel Yazkulieva, a 34-year-old visitor from the Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat. "You immediately think of your sins and feel like praying."
One of the world's most isolated countries almost a quarter-century after the fall of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan welcomes just 12,000 to 15,000 tourists from around 50 countries each year.
Tourism officials say the Door to Hell, also called the Derweze crater after a nearby village, could be developed into a key draw for adventure tourists.
"The burning crater... is attracting more and more interest every year, especially among foreign tourists," an official on Turkmenistan's state committee on tourism told AFP.
"The 'lifeless' desert could soon become a hugely interesting destination for different types of tourism - from eco-tourism to extreme sports," he said.
The phenomenon was the result of a simple miscalculation by Soviet scientists.
"Soviet geologists started drilling a borehole to prospect for gas at this spot in 1971," Turkmen geologist Anatoly Bushmakin was quoted by Hurriyet.
"The equipment suddenly drilled through into an underground cavern, and a deep sinkhole formed. The equipment tumbled through but fortunately no one was killed."
"Fearing that the crater would emit poisonous gases, the scientists took the decision to set it alight, thinking that the gas would burn out quickly and this would cause the flames to go out," Bushmakin said.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said, "Our main task is to create an attractive image of Turkmenistan as a tourism destination".
With the fame and effect to the west on discoveries and creations in medicine, the book of Ibn Sina, “El-Kanun fi't-Tib” was taught in the European medical schools such as Louvain and Montpellier Universities, until the 17th century
Ustaz Emad Abu Khadejih runs a small grocery store at a distance of 2.5 meters from Burak (Wailing) Wall, and 5 meters to al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli government offers for the store 24 million dollars but he strongly refuses. Eyüp Sami Yavaş wrote.
Hajji Sinan’s Tekke is one of the rare tekkes in Bosnia that reached the present day from the 17th century.
Tablets with first writing in Anatolia unearthed from burial mound in central Anatolian province of Kayseri
Chowk, located in heart of Lahore, connects two different cultures in one city
Ankara Park offers a taste of Turkey in South Korea’s sprawling capital
Unveiled by Tunisian president, initiative includes proposed legal changes that scholars say contravene Islamic precepts
Program aims to instill volunteerism, raise awareness of conditions in Africa
Exhibition organized as part of 2017 Medinah Capital of Islamic Tourism activities
Remarkable discovery of Roman district made during excavations
One of the most beautiful cities located in the Balkans is Sarajevo. Built between two mountains, the city has conquered the hearts of the thousands of visitors today as it has done so for centuries with its unique nature, rich history and cultural heritage.
‘I’m standing for Quds, because I am a human’, the campaign says
Head of Jerusalem's Greek Orthodox Church says Christians support protests against recent Al-Aqsa restrictions
One of the oldest towers in the Balkans is rising above Skopje, the capital of Macedonia.
A total of 300,000 tourists are expected to explore the city in the air by the end of 2017
Antique city in Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast attracts tourists with its unique combination of history and nature