capital, Ankara, despite its long history, is
a thoroughly modern, well-planned city. The city is distinguished by its
wide avenues, green parks, elegant shops, embassies and government buildings,
and a large number of first class restaurants and hotels.
The city has been continuously inhabited since
the Bronze Age. The very fine Museum of Anatolian Civilizations details the
ebb and flow of cultures that have passed through the area, from the Hittites,
the Phrygians, Lydians and Persians to the Galatians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks and
Ottomans. A small provincial town until Kemal Ataturk named it the capital
of the new Republic on October 13, 1923, Ankara developed very quickly. It is the only
city in Turkey with an urban development plan dating back to the 1930s. Ataturk's
Mausoleum dominates the modern part of Ankara. The imposing limestone structure, completed
in 1953, represents a fusion of ancient and modern architectural concepts.
In addition to the numerous mosques, museums and
recreational areas, visitors enjoy touring the Citadel and
browsing through the old shops in Cikricilar Yokusu near the
Ulus area. On the street of Bakircilar Carsisi, you can find
many interesting old and new items: copper objects, jewelery, carpets, costumes,
antiquities and embroidery. In Cankaya, the Atakule
Tower, 125 meters tall, offers a magnificent view of the city.
Long ago, in the 3rd century BC, the Galatians were the
first to make "Ancyra" of those times, their capital. Much later on, in 1923, M.
Kemal Ataturk chose the same district to be the capital of newly founded Turkey, and
"Ankara" thereafter remained the strategic heart of the country.
Today's modern city, situated at the core of Anatolia,
hides an ancient site behind, dating back to prehistorical times. The remains from
Urartian, Phrygian, and Hittite periods have beautified the area here, now fascinating the
visitors by enlivening the respective periods.
For the ones who would like to go to the very beginning,
the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which is the third most
important archeological museum after Paris-Louvre and London-British museums, is a perfect
place to observe its wide collections of Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti and Hittite works
of art. The pieces exhibited here are unique in the world and it is exciting to see the
lifestyle of the earliest humans with those beautiful objects.
Viewing the subsequent Phrygian period is possible by
taking excursions to nearby locations, such as Gordion (Yassihoyuk),
the capital of the kingdom, not far from Polatli. Excavations have brought to light the
advanced artistic works of this civilization which dates back to the 10th century BC, and
which had an important influence on artistic works of the successive ages.
Next came the Lydian invasion which was followed by the
Persian settlement continuing until the death of Alexander the Great, who had stayed in
Ankara after he gained the rule of Asia.
After Galatians, Romans and Byzantines conquered the land,
they erected plenty of monuments some of which are still remaining. This includes the most
prominent Roman ruins, the Temple of Augustus from the 2nd
century AD, built in the Corinthian style and dedicated to the Emperor. It is a remarkable
and important sight with the "Political Testament of Augustus"
on its walls, inscribed in Greek and Latin. In the 5th century, this temple was converted
into a church by the Byzantines. The original high walls are still standing.
The ruins of a Roman theater and the Roman baths of the 3rd
century AD, are other interesting figures together with the Column of Julian, a memorial
from the 4th century
Captured by the Arabs, Seljuks and Ottomans in succession,
Ankara has many artistic examples of those periods inside its borders, such as the
Alaeddin, Arslanhane, Kursunlu, Ahi Ervan and Haci Bayram mosques, built during the 12th
and 15th centuries. Kocatepe Mosque is the most recently built
mosque and has a capacity to hold 20,000 worshippers.
Ankara Castle The walls of Ankara Castle which once
enclosed the fortified city proper are now lost in the centre of the sprawling metropolis.
Although they encircle the city's highest hill they are not visible from every point but
wait to be discovered by the discerning eye.
Almost all of the historical remains in the city are
situated around the old citadel, "Hisar", where, according to legend an
anchor was found while it was being constructed, from which the city took
its name "Ancyra". Inside its walls it contains
examples of old Turkish houses alongside the ancient ruins. There is also a covered
bazaar, called "bedesten", close to the gate "Hisar
The principal monument and dominating sight in Ankara is Anitkabir,
the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the
Turkish Republic. The building composed of limestone stands in majesty, with its beautiful
architectural style and is reached by a ceremonial road adorned with fine statues and
reliefs. Nearby is a museum, housing some of the personal belongings of Ataturk. Ataturk's
house located at Cankaya, has been converted into a museum.
Ankara today is a center of history and culture. The Ethnographical
Museum and the Sculpture and Painting Museum are
noteworthy for their wide collections of artifacts from the area. The performances of the
well-known philharmonic orchestra and frequent artistic events include ballet, theater,
opera and folk-dancing. In addition are two yearly international festivals: "The Arts
and Music Festival" and the "Children's Festival", both held every April.
Also present around the city are some sites of natural importance, such as the lakes
of Golbasi, Cubuk Dam, Kurtbogazi Dam,
Karagol for resting, and Mount Elmadag for winter
sports. In addition, Kizilcahamam is a thermal and hot springs
center for places such as Ayas, Haymana and Beypazari. The city has good excursion
opportunities to the historical and natural sites of Cappadocia, Gordion,
Hattusas, and Alacahoyuk.
Atakule, and Karum
Center are excellent shopping centers. This city of such diverse features
also possesses a wide variety of specialties. Ankara is known for its wool, goat, cat,
pear and honey, and the land itself is special and should not be missed..
SITES TO SEE
Anitkabir (Ataturk Mausoleum): Located on
an imposing hill in the Anittepe quarter of the city stands the mausoleum of Kemal
Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey. Completed in 1953, it is an impressive fusion
of ancient and modern architectural ideas and remains unsurpassed as an accomplishment of
modern Turkish architecture. There is a museum housing a superior wax statue of Ataturk;
writings, letters and items belonging to Ataturk, as well as an exhibition of photographs
recording important moments in his life and in the establishment of the Republic.
(Anitkabir is open everyday, and the museum everyday except Mondays. During the summer,
there is a light and sound show in the evenings).
The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
is close to the citadel entrance. An old bedesten (covered bazaar) has been beautifully
restored and now houses a marvelous and unique collection of Paleolithic, Neolithic,
Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, and Roman works and showpiece Lydian treasures. (Open
every day, except Monday. During the summer, the museum opens every day).
The Ethnography Museum is
opposite the Opera House on Talat Pasa Boulevard. There is a fine collection of folkloric
artifacts as well as artifacts from Seljuk and Ottoman mosques. (Open every day, except
The Painting and Sculpture Museum
is close to the Ethnography Museum and houses a rich collection of Turkish art from the
late 19th century to the present day. There are also galleries for guest exhibitions.
(Open every day, except Monday).
The Liberation War Museum,
diagonally across the street from Ulus Square, is in what was originally the first
parliament building of the Republic of Turkey. There the War of Liberation was planned and
directed as recorded in various photographs and items on exhibition. In another display
are wax figures of former presidents of the Republic of Turkey. (Open every day, except
The Museum of the Republic, close
to the Liberation War Museum, is housed in what the second parliament building of the
Republic. The exhibition here records important events in the early republican period.
(Open every day, except Monday).
Ataturk’s House is on the
grounds of the Presidential Palace in Cankaya and was Ataturk’s house after the founding
of the Republic. The house is much as it was in Ataturk’s day, and exhibits photographs
that record important events. (Open Sundays and on religious and national holidays, 1:30
pm to 5:00 pm).
The Natural History Museum can be
found on the grounds of the MTA(Mineral Research and Exploration Institute) on the
Eskisehir road in Ankara. The displays record the evolutionary development of the world.
(Open every day except religious holidays).
PTT Museum collections were begun
between 1880 and 1888 by then Postal Director Izzet Efendi. The Museum in Altindag was
opened in 1982, and contains a postal display, a telegraph and telephone display, and a
stamp display. (Open weekdays).
The TRT Museum (Turkish
Radio& Television Broadcasting) has exhibits from the beginning of radio in Turkey,
including antique phonographs and radios. It is located in the TRT General Directorate
building in the Oran district. (Open Mon., Wed., Fri., 11 am – 3 pm).
Mehmet Akif Ersoy Museum, on the
Hacettepe University Central Campus, commemorates the famous national poet who, in this
house, wrote the text of the Turkish national anthem, as well as songs of independence,
and many poems. (Open weekdays from 10 am – 12pm and 2 pm – 4 pm).
The TCDD Open-air Locomotive Museum,
near the railway station by Celal Bayar Blvd., shows the history of steam locomotion
through the locomotives on display. (Open weekdays).
The Cartography Museum, located
in the Harita Genel Konutanligi building in the Cebeci quarter, has old and new maps.
(Open Tues. and Thurs. from 9 am – 12 pm and 2 pm – 5 pm).
The Meteorology Museum on
Sanatoyum Ave. in Kalaba, shows the history of meteorology in Turkey. (Open weekdays).
The Education Museum follows the
history and technology of education in Turkey. It is located in Ankara Gazi University, in
the Besevler district. (Open weekdays)
The Toy Museum in Cebeci houses
toys of all kinds made of wood, metal, porcelain, paper, etc. (Open Wednesdays and Fridays
from 10 am to 5 pm).
METU Museum on the campus of
Middle East Technical University has archeological artifacts and ethnographic displays.
(Open weekdays, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm).
T.C. Ziraat Museum at the Ulus
branch of the bank displays a rich collection of coins and money in a building of
architectural beauty. (Open weekdays from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm)
Ankara Citadel: The foundations of the
citadel were laid by the Galatians on a prominent lava outcrop, and completed by the
Romans. The Byzantines and Seljuks made restorations and additions. The area around and
inside the citadel, being the oldest part of Ankara, contains many fine examples of
traditional architecture. There are also lovely green areas in which to relax. It is well
known that the Ankara region was the cradle of wine in Hatti and Hittite times around 2000
B.C.. Many restored traditional Turkish houses in the area of the citadel have found new
life as restaurants, serving local and international dishes and wine.
Roman Theatre: The remains, including
pro-scene (stage), and scene(backstage), can be seen outside the citadel. Roman statues
that were found here are exhibited in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The audience
area is still under excavation.
Temple of Augustus: The temple is in the
Ulus quarter of the city. It was built by the Galatian King Pylamenes in 10 A.D. as a
tribute to Augustus, and was reconstructed by the Romans on the ancient Ankara Acropolis
in the 2nd century. It is important today for the “Monument Ancyranum, “ the sole
surviving “Political Testament” of Augustus, detailing his achievements, inscribed on
its walls in Latin and Greek. In the fifth century the temple was converted into a church
by the Byzantines.
Roman Bath: The bath, situated on Cankiri
Avenue in Ulus, has all the typical features: a frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (cool
room) and caldarium (hot room). They were built in the time of Emperor Caracalla (3rd
century A.D.) in honor of Asclepios,the god of medicine. Today only the basement and first
Column of Julian: This column, in Ulus,
was erected in 362 A.D., probably to commemorate a visit by Roman Emperor Julian the
Apostate. It stands fifteen meters high and has a typical leaf decoration on the capital.
Monument of the Republic: Erected in 1927
in Ulus Square, it is a symbol of the struggle for independence on the part of Ataturk and
the Turkish people in the War of Liberation.
Monument to a Secure, Confident Future:
This monument, in Guven Park, was erected in 1935 and bears Ataturk’s advice to his
people:” Be proud, hardworking, and believe in yourself.”
Victory Monument: Erected in 1927 in Zafer
Square in the Sihhiye quarter, it shows Ataturk in uniform.
Hatti Monument: Erected in the 1970’s in
Sihhiye Square, this impressive monument symbolizes the Hatti gods and commemorates
Anatolia’s earliest known civilization.
Haci Bayram Mosque: This mosque, in Ulus,
next to the Temple of Augustus, was built in the early 15th century in Seljuk style and
was subsequently restored by Sinan in the 16th century, with Kutahya tiles being added in
the 18th century. The mosque was built in honor of Haci Bayram Veli, whose tomb is next to
Aslanhane Mosque: This Seljuk mosque, near
the citadel, was built in the 13th century. The mosque has a mihrap(prayer niche showing
the direction to Mecca) of Seljuk tiles, and an unusual double colonnade of wooden
columns. Next to the mosque is the tomb of Ahi Serefeddin.
Ahi Elvan Mosque: Found in the Ulus
quarter near the Citadel, this mosque was built and finished during the late 14th and
early 15th centuries. The finely carved walnut mimber (pulpit) is of particular interest.
Alaaddin Mosque: This mosque is inside the
Citadel walls. It has a carved walnut mimber, the inscription on which shows that the
mosque was built in the 12th century by the Seljuk ruler, Mesut.
Yeni (Cenab Ahmet) Mosque: This is the
largest Ottoman mosque in Ankara and was built by the famous architect Sinan in the 16th
century. The member (pulpit) and mihrab(prayer niche) are of white marble, and the mosque
itself is of Ankara stone (red porphyry), an example of very fine workmanship. Yeni Cami
is on Ulucanlar Avenue
Kocatepe Mosque: This is a recently
constructed mosque of great size in classical Ottoman design with four minarets. Built
between 1967 and 1987 in the Kocatepe quarter, its size and prominent situation have made
it a landmark.
Ankara has many delightful parks and open spaces
established in the early years of the Republic in accordance with Ataturk’s belief in
the importance of trees and natural beauty. The most important of these parks are: Genclik
Park (which also has an amusement park), the Botanical Garden, Segmenler, Anayasa, Kugulu,
Abdi Ipekci, Guven, Demetevler, Cemre, Kale, Anit, Kurtulus(for ice skating) and Altin
Ataturk Orman Ciftligi (Ataturk Farm and Zoo) is now within
the growing city and is a pleasant place to spend a day. There is also a replica of the
house where Ataturk was born in Salonica, an excellent restaurant, and some cafes.
Visitors can sample such famous products of the farm as its excellent beer, old-fashioned
ice cream, yogurt, milk, and meat rolls.
Erkeksu Ciftligi has a 9-hole golf courses set in a lovely,
peaceful countryside environment located 40 km west of Ankara via Sincan.
ARTS AND CULTURE
Ankara is a center for opera, ballet, jazz and modern
dance, as well as home of the prestigious Presidential Symphony Orchestra. Ankara also has
a large number of theatres staging many ambitious productions. In addition to public and
private galleries throughout the city, exhibitions are also held at the Ataturk Cultural
Center. The city also has many cinemas showing the best Turkish and foreign films, and
there are a number of film festivals on various themes throughout the year, in particular
the International Film Days in March. Every year in April and May the city hosts the Sevda
Cenap And International Arts and Music Festival with performances by the finest Turkish
and foreign musicians. The Children’s Festival on April 23 is also quite an event, with
groups of children from all over the world taking part. There is also an International
Cartoon Film Festival and the Asian-European Arts Biennial scheduled sometime in the
spring or summer. Altin Park is home to the Ankara Fairgrounds where lovely fairs are held
Visitors to the city usually like to visit old shops in
Cikrikcilar Yokusu near Ulus. The street of copper workers (Bakircilar Carsisi) is
particularly popular, and many interesting old and new items, not just of copper, can be
found here, such as jewelry, carpets, costumes, antiques and embroidery. Walking up the
hill to the citadel gate, you find many interesting shops selling spices, dried fruits,
nuts, and all manner of produce; the selection is huge and very fresh. Modern shopping
areas are mostly found in Kizilay, on Tunali Hilmi Avenue, including the modern mall of
Karum, and in the Atakule Tower in Cankaya. From the top of Atakule (125 meters) there is
a magnificent view over the whole city. There is also a revolving restaurant where the
panorama can be enjoyed in a more leisurely fashion. The Galleria, in Umitkoy and Bilkent
Center are other modern shopping opportunities.
ENVIRONS OF ANKARA
Twenty-five kilometers to the south of Ankara on the Konya
road is Golbasi Lake,a popular place to visit for its attractive
scenery and its fine lake side restaurants. Incek, 15 km
southwest of Ankara is a favorite rest area for Ankara residents, with its lovely fruit
trees, green areas and picnic sites. Another favorite place for picnics is Karagol
Lake, 68 km north of the city on the airport road, for which one should take
the turn off for the town of Cubuk.
The three dams around the city, Cubuk(15
km on the Cankiri Highway), Kurtbogazi(50 km on the Istanbul
Highway) and Bayindir(15 km on the Kirikkale Highway) are
pleasant places to visit for swimming and picnicking. There are also restaurants, and at
Bayindir, good camping facilities. Other dams in the Ankara province include Sariyer,
Kesikkopru, Hirfanli, Asartepe, and Camlidere.
Walkers will delight in exploring the three main forests
around Ankara, South of the city, on the Kirsehir Highway (54 km), is the Beynam Forest,
while to the north, on the Istanbul Highway (82 km), is the Kizilcahamam Soguksu National
Park and farther along in the same direction (110 km) is the Camkoru Forest. All are
delightful retreats from the clamor of the city, and each provides many lovely places for
Elmadag Mountain (1,855 meters),
some 23 kilometers east of Ankara, can be seen from most parts of the city. The first
snowfall on the mountain heralds the start of winter and the beginning of skiing, and
other winter sports to be enjoyed at the pleasant resort center there.
In the province of Ankara there are six thermal
centers: Kizilcahamam Kaplica 80 km to the north, Haymana Kaplica 72 km to
the south, and to the northwest are Ayas Kaplica (57 km), Dutlu Kaplica (85 km), Meliksah
in Cubuk (30 km), and Malikoy in Polatli (80 km). All offer comfortable facilities in
which to soak away your cares. The thermal baths have beneficial properties and are, of
course altogether pleasurable