Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Castles Made of Ice 

The leader of Turkmenistan, President Saparmurat Niyazov, has a penchant for taking things to ludicrous extremes. Extreme authoritarianism. Extreme self-regard (self-given nickname: Turkmenbashi, which translates to "Father (or Head) of All Turkmen"). And now, apparently, extreme architecture:
President Niyazov of Turkmenistan has ordered the construction of a palace made of ice in the heart of his desert country, one of the hottest on earth.

It is the latest in a series of colossal building projects instigated by the all-powerful president that seem to defy the country's environment.

"Let us build a palace of ice," said President Niyazov, "big and grand enough for 1,000 people."


"Our children can learn to ski," Mr Niyazov enthused, "we can build cafes there, and restaurants."
My assumption is that Niyazov was inspired by the 2002 James Bond movie "Die Another Day" and is hoping to trap British secret agents in the palace as it collapses. I could be mistaken, though: perhaps Niyazov is seeking to emulate Doctor Doom. Of course, it may just be the case that he has been driven mad with power. Don't get me wrong: if I had absolute control over a nation-state, I'd be building ice palaces, too.

In other news, the Olympics have officially started. Yeah, I don't care, either.

UPDATE: Turns out he wasn't kidding. Turkmenistan has entered into a contract with a French construction firm to build the ice palace. Projected opening date: October 2006. See you there!

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