Nissa is an archaeological site in Ahal Province, Turkmenistan.


Fortress ruins

Nissa is one of the most important sites of the Parthian Empire. The Parthians ruled in Persia from 247 BC to 228 AD. They defeated the Seleucids (successors of Alexander the Great) and conquered great parts of the Middle East and southwest Asia.

The earliest settlements in the area of Nissa date back to the 4th millenium BC. In the 3rd century BC the Parthians built an impressive fortress at Old Nisa and erected a royal residence, which probably was the first royal residence of the Parthian kings. The city was named Mithradatkert (fortress of Mithradates) during the reign of King Mithradates the Great (174-138 BC). Greek sources refer to the city as administrative and economic centre during the reign of the Arsacid dynasty. The Arsacid dynasty conquered a huge area from the Indus to the Euphrates and Nisa became an important city on the crossroads of many cultures from Persia, Greece and Central Asia.

New Nisa was conquered by the Arabian Caliphate in the 7th century and became part of the Seljuk Empire in the 11th century.

Archaeological research at the site began in the 1930s. Since 1990 it is excavated by the University of Torino, Italy (Centro Scavi di Torino) . In 2007, the fortresses of Nissa were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Get in

The Parthian Fortresses of Nisa are located 15 km southwest of Ashgabat near the village of Bagir in the Akhal District of Turkmenistan. Buses, marshrutkas and taxis depart from the western side of Teke Bazaar in Ashgabat. The ride in a minibus to Old Nisa costs USD0.20. The cost of bus ticket is 0.20 TMT.

With public transport it is only possible to reach Bagir village. From a roundabout in the centre of the village it is pleasant 2 km walk uphill to Old Nisa and the same distance to New Nisa.

Get around

The site is small enough to explore it conveniently on foot.


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