Independence Square

Square in Ashgabat

At the centre of Ashgabat is the enormous Independence Square, on which sits the golden-domed Palace of Turkmenbashi (the place of work of the former president), the Ministry of Fairness, the Ministry of Defence and Ruhyyet Palace, all of which were built by the French corporation Bouygues Construction, one-time court builder to Niyazov.

Unfortunately, you can't enter or even get close to any of these buildings, and travellers report that if you walk in this area, government officials will quickly move you along.