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Geok Depe MosqueGeok Depe - Mosque, Fortress Ruins and Cemetary

40 minutes by car from Ashgabat. This site includes the remains of the ancient fortress Geok-Depe (Green Hill ) and modern Mosque Geok-Depe. Geok-Depe is a fortress from the 19th century where a particular bloody battle (1881) was fought between the Turkmen and the Russians who were attempting to take over Turkmenistan. In January 1881 the Russians had surrounded the Geok Depe fortress and begun to bombard it. There had been 10,000 Turcoman troops inside its massive walls, most of them cavalry, as well as nearly 40,000 civilians. Skobelev himself had 7,000 infantry and cavalry, and 60 guns and rocket batteries. The Russians found themselves under heavy fire from the ramparts. Skobelev ordered his engineers to tunnel to a point beneath the wall where a mine could be explored. If they dug quickly, the officer in charge would be rewarded with vodka and champagne. As fierce fighting continued overhead, the sappers had got to within twenty-five yards of the wall without detection. Progress now began to slow, due to the difficulty of getting air to the differs, but finally the tunnel was ready. Two tons of explosives were carried along it by volunteers to a position directly beneath the wall. Shortly, as the storming parties waited in readiness, the mine was ignited. Simultaneously the full fury of Skobelev's artillery and rocket batteries was turned against the same part of the wall. The result was an enormous explosion, which sent a huge column of earth and rubble skywards. Together with the artillery fire it blew a gap nearly fifty yards wide in the wall, instantly killing several hundred of the defenders. The Russian storming party now poured into the fortress, while at other points, using scaling ladders brought up under cover of darkness the previous night, Skobelev's troops swarmed over the walls. Hand-to-hand fighting followed for possession of the fortress. Unprepared for the sudden appearance of the Russians in their midst, and still stunned by the violence of the explosion, the Turcomans soon began to give ground. General Skobelev was one of the Russian Tsar's most outstanding and colorful soldiers. Nicknamed "the White General" by his troops because he invariably rode into battle in a dazzling white uniform and on a has a white charger. He also had a reputation for ruthlessness and cruelty which had earned him the name of "old Bloody Eyes" among the Turcomans. In 1996 a magnificent mosque was built to commemorate the battle of Geok-Depe.

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