Mary is an import city for Turkmenistan with its history and geographic location. Being the third-largest city in the country it is the main centre of the cotton and gas industry and an important point for transport. It is also the administrative centre of the Mary province.
Mary was formerly named Merv, Meru, Margiana. The current name is given after the mother of Jesus, as according to Kerait tradition she is buried here. The city is situated on the Murghab river surrounded by Karakum sands.
Originally Mary was named Mer, after the ancient Merv. It was an important route on the Great Silk Road, but during the Russian rule, it was turned into a military and administrative post. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became the centre of Mary province.
The only place of interest in the city can be considered the history museum with its rich collection of artefacts, Turkmen carpets, national costumes, utensils, silver ornaments, etc. There is a hall dedicated to findings from the ancient sites of Gonur and Merv. You can also pay a visit to the medieval mausoleum Talhatan Baba, which is around 40km far away from Merv.
And moreover, if you visit Mary you should buy Turkmen handmade wool carpets, as they are one of the best ones woven by the locals.