Friday, February 23   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.

Is the sexual exploitation of women an issue in your city?




Karakum, the ‘Door to Hell’

A giant hole of fire in the heart of the Karakum Desert, creating a surreal other-worldly scene.

Karakum, Door to Hell

An ominous gas crater that has been burning in a Turkmen desert for more than 40 years is a perfect site for boosting tourism in the country, local officials and academics say. The man-made pit is known as “the Door to Hell.”

Tourism may not be the strongest side of the Central Asian republic’s economy, as only around 10,000 visitors come to Turkmenistan yearly, according to official stats –most of them from Iran, Germany and the US. However, local tourism officials say they found a promising tourist attraction– and it is really hot.

Amid the arid Karakum desert, covering most of the country and known for its extreme temperature changes, one can find a huge sinister-looking pit known as Derweze or Darvaza – commonly referred to by the locals as “the Door to Hell.”

The pit is filled by what seems to be a hellish fire, but is in fact an enormous blaze of natural gas coming from under the ground. No one is really sure, when the fire in the 60-meter wide, 20-meter deep crater may go out, but it is known for certain that it was started after a drilling accident in 1971.

The ground at the site collapsed when Soviet geologists were exploring a natural gas field – one of the many reserves in the gas-rich country, which used to be a Soviet republic. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident, but fearing that poisonous gas fumes may pose a danger for the local population and animals, the geologists decided to set them on fire, thinking they will soon burn out.

“The burning crater... is attracting more and more interest every year, especially among foreign tourists,” an official on Turkmenistan’s state committee on tourism was quoted as saying by AFP.

Moreover, it is a nice attraction for eco-tourists and researchers visiting the newly-formed 90,000-hectar nature reserve in the Karakum desert, Turkmen academics believe.

“Landmarks such as the burning crater are hugely interesting both to people who love to travel and to researchers in various areas,” Ovez Kurbanov of the National Institute of Deserts, Flora and Fauna, told the agency.

“Our main task is to create an attractive image of Turkmenistan as a tourism destination,” he added.


Puerta del infierno, Turkmenistán


Those visiting Derweze, however, experience mixed feelings about the site.

“Foreign tourists who visit the burning crater feel mixed emotions – awe at the sight but also at the profligacy of the Turkmen people, who have simply let the gas burn for so many years,” a Turkmen travel agency employee Begli Atayev told AFP.

Others, like a 34-year-old local Gozel Yazkulieva say that the site “takes your breath away.”

“You immediately think of your sins and feel like praying,” Yazkulieva said.

Thus far, getting to the crater located some 270 kilometers from the capital Ashgabat has been no easy task, but those seeking extreme thrills can hire a guide to get right to the spot. YouTube is filling up with videos of the site, which many observers film from the brink of the pit, ignoring the possibility it might collapse. Meanwhile, bloggers’ reviews of Derweze claim that “nothing that falls in [the crater] makes it out alive.”




    If you want to comment, or


YOUR ARE AT: - - Karakum, the ‘Door to Hell’
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest

About 70 people from European countries met at the Younger Leaders Gen gathering in Hungary (19-22 October) to discuss the challenges of the church in the continent and build partnerships. Photos: Evi Rodemann and Jari Sippola.

I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

A marriage story A marriage story

The  great love story for everyone.

Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

Creation Care and the Gospel, in France Creation Care and the Gospel, in France

The conference drew about 90 delegates from across Europe. Scientists, theologians, activists reflected together on the theme “God’s Word and God’s World”.

Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube

EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.