Rarely Visited Country Opens Gleaming $2.3B Airport
It's Turkmenistan's latest bizarre building
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 17, 2016 10:10 AM CDT
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A view of the new international airport terminal outside Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. The capital of Turkmenistan, a country largely closed to outsiders, has opened a $2.3-billion terminal at its international airport in the shape of a flying falcon. The terminal, whose roof in...   (Uncredited)

(Newser) – The capital of Turkmenistan, a country largely closed to outsiders, has opened a $2.3 billion new international airport terminal in the shape of a flying falcon. The terminal, whose roof in profile resembles a bird with spread wings, adds to Ashgabat's vast array of idiosyncratic buildings, the AP reports. The terminal, which officially opened on Saturday, is designed to process at least 2,000 passengers every hour and speed up the "full integration of Turkmenistan into the world economic system, according to Central Asia's Trend news agency.

Strict visa regulations in Turkmenistan mean relatively small numbers of tourists and businessmen ever visit the isolated, energy-rich Central Asian nation. In 2013, the Guinness World Records recognized Ashgabat as having the greatest density of marble-clad buildings—estimated at more than 540. Many official buildings are noteworthy for literal or eccentric designs, including the state publishing house, which is in the shape of a book. (Turkmenistan's best-known tourist attractions include the "Gates of Hell.")