Mary is an important city in the southeast of Turkmenistan, an oasis in the desert with a long and fascinating history. Named for the mother of Jesus because in Kerait tradition, she is buried here. However, originally named Merv, it was historically a popular stop on the Silk Road; later it was occupied by Russia until Turkmenistan established independence, after which it became the capital of Mary province.
The modern city of Mary is the base from which to discover the nearby ancient sites of wonder. The city's museum contains exhibitions and displays to give visitors a good foundation for exploring the surrounding area. Each city (or "kala") within the vast complex of historic Merv tells its own story of a slice of Turkmenistan's amazing history from the 7th century BC until well past the Medieval period. And, even further back, the excavation site at Gonur Depe marks central Turkmenistan as one of the earliest seats of civilization in the world.