The Darvaza Gas Crater is a natural gas field and tourist attraction located in the nation of Turkmenistan, in Asia.

Darvaza is arguably better known as the ‘Door to Hell’ or ‘Gates to Hell’, and is a stunning sight. This has helped make it a popular tourist attraction.

The gas field collapsed into an underground cavern, which has paved the way for the site to become a gas crater. To combat the possible spread of methane gas, geologists set the crater on fire in 1971, and it has remained alight ever since.

The below video – courtesy of BBC Reel – provides information on how the crater was initially discovered.

History of the Darvaza Gas Crater

While the exact history of the Gas Crater isn’t definitively known, it is believed theorists know the likely biography and history of the site.

It is believed Soviet engineers discovered the site in 1971, and realised its potential. Drilling would soon commence, but soon after the ground collapsed into a wide crater.

It was apparent that dangerous gases could emit from the crater and affect nearby towns, putting many at risk. Therefore, Soviet geologists are believed to have set the site on fire.

The result of this has shocked geologists – who had originally believed the fire would burn out within weeks. However half a century later, the crater remains burning.

As mentioned, the history of the crater isn’t entirely known. It still isn’t even known if the crater was intentionally set on fire or not. There are many unanswered questions.

Where is the Darvaza Gas Crater?

The crater is located outside the village of Derweze, Ahai Province, Turkmenistan, Asia. Derweze is commonly known as Darvaza – hence the name.

The crater is located in the desert, 160 miles north of the capital city Ashgabat. The crater’s diameter is 69m (226ft), with a depth of 30m (98ft).

Moreover, The total area of the crater site is 5,350 metres squared. The surrounding desert area of the crater is a popular spot for camping – which is unsurprising given the incredible views the crater provides. The crater is visible for around 25 miles in the nearby area.

If you are planning on visiting, it can be recommended to arrange transport with a travel agent in Ashgabat. This is because the crater is located over 5 miles off roads and surrounded by desert.

Correct provisions should be planned – including bringing your own food and drink. The intense heat of the crater means you can only stand at the edge (if you want to!) for around a minute maximum.

The crater is located around a four hour drive from the capital, and provides one of the most incredible sights in Turkmenistan.

Experts recommend viewing the crater at night, with this offering the best views. The crater can illuminate the night sky, making it a stunning sight.

The Future

The future of the crater however is uncertain. In 2010, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow visited the site, and suggested measures should be enacted to try and limit the influence of the crater on other natural gas fields in the area.

In 2022, Berdimuhamedow announced plans to extinguish the crater, having identified the health issues caused by the crater and its impact on the environment.

However, it has not yet been extinguished. Given how the crater is a tourist attraction that brings many people to Turkmenistan – many have argued that it’d be foolish for the crater to be extinguished. It would be a blow to the economy of the country.

The Takeaway

Given its uniqueness and beauty, it is no surprise that the crater is such a popular tourist attraction.

The future of the Darvaza Gas Crater is unknown, but the hope is that the site will remain open for many years to come.