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".
The Spanish Murabitun community, the Comunidad Islámica en España, that is based in Granada in Spain, has the strongest ties to the Chiapas community in Mexico
On May 9th, Cinco de Mayo was celebrated by the Muslims Latino community: ‘We change our religion, not our culture’
The world is a spectacular showcase of millions of plants and blooms - here are a just a small number of gardens that reflect the beauty of spring
The smell of gunpowder has replaced the smell of the classic Damask rose, with the oldest flower in history now suffering from drought and war
Ottoman-illuminated copy of Quran will carry name of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque
Paintings of Sultan Abdulaziz (1830-1876) will also be shown in London on May 18
500 copies of the holy book were published in 1934 by Tatar Turks, which gives it great importance for Tatars in Japan
A painting showing the enthronement of 17th century Sultan Osman II is among 40 pieces that will be auctioned on Tuesday
Potential Vikings site in North America spotted from space
The ancient al-Qarawiyyin Library in Fez, founded in 859 by a woman, is the oldest working library in the world, holding ancient manuscripts that date as far back as 12 centuries and will reopen in May after a major renovation.
The absence of Muslim characters in children's books will take a new turn with publishing house Simon & Schuster to include a
Three Muslim graves have recently been discovered in Nimes, France and the rituali burial show cultural diversity in early medieval France.
Independencia metro station becomes home to 900-year-old Andalusia motifs
The New York Public Library’s Digital Collections has recently made more than 187,000 digitized, public-domain items more easily accessible in the highest resolution available.
A new Barbie doll for mini Hijab fashion has taken social media off spectacularly with pictures of the doll with full-length dresses, veils and flowing abayas were posted by 24-year-old medical science student Haneefa Adam.
The show comprises the pieces of an idea that represents the desire of every individual living and working in a city