[REPOST] This is a much better version of T-the-Great greeting the dawn than my original post; somehow I overlooked it in the initial selection. I think this gives an even clearer understanding of the nature of the thing.
I sharpened it, and also lightened the foreground a bit - but not too much, because then it gets very noisy (there's some noise there now), and besides, the foreground building was in shadow when I took the picture.
I don't normally take pictures from my hotel window, much less post them here, but this was too much to resist.
President Niyazov (who died of a heart attack in 2006) was an ultimate megalomaniac who renamed himself Turkmenbashi (Leader of the Turkmen) the Great, and built monuments of gold and marble to himself and his family all over the country. (He also renamed the Caspian port town of Krasnovodsk to Turkmenbashi.) Since Turkmenistan has huge oil reserves, he had the money.
One monument in particular, the Arch of Neutrality, dominates the capital city of Ashgabat. It was built to celebrate the country's unanimous endorsement of Niyazov's neutrality policy in 1998. The arch is 75 meters (245 feet) high, and on top of it there is a statue of the Great Himself, 12 meters (40 feet) high, covered in gold, arms outstretched. The statue rotates so that it always faces the sun during the day. At night, the arch is lit by floodlights that change color about every 10 seconds.
In May of this year, Niyzov's successor reportedly decided to have the tower moved to the outskirts of the city (no mention of made of whether the statue would go along with it), but so far this has not been done, so the arch sits in the middle of Independence Square across the street from the Presidential Palace, which also has a golden dome. You can see this in the workshop photos, which show the arch from different closeup angles.
PS: The US had an election last night (did you notice?) and we did NOT elect a megalomaniac. So this entry is submitted as an example of what we just avoided (not that McCain is that much of one, just a touch perhaps, but Palin - Oy!).
Technical: Perspective cropping. Noiseware reduction.