|The city of Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern
edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850 meters. The province is a
predominantly fertile wheat steppe land, with forested areas in the northeast. It is
bordered by the provinces of Çankırı and Bolu to the north, Eskişehir
to the west, Konya and Aksaray to the
south, and Kırıkkale and Kırşehir to the east.
The region's history goes back to the Bronze-Age Hatti Civilization, which was succeeded in the 2nd millennium B.C., followed by the Hittites, then the Phrygians (10th century B.C.), Lydians and Persians. After these came the Galatians, a Celtic race who were the first to make, Ankara their capital (3rd century B.C.). It was then known as Ancyra, meaning 'anchor', one of the oldest words in the language of the sea-loving Celts. The city subsequently fell to the Romans, Byzantines, and Seljuks under Alpaslan in 1073, and then, under Yıldırım Beyazıt, to the Ottomans in 1402, who remained in control until the First World War.
The city was an important cultural, trading, center on the caravan route to the east in Ottoman times. It had declined in importance by the nineteenth century. It again became an important center when Kemal Atatürk chose it as the base from which to direct the War of Liberation By consequence of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared the capital of the new Turkish Republic on October 13th, 1923.
PLACES OF INTEREST AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS
ANITKABİR (Atatürk Mausoleum) : Located on an
imposing hill in the Anıttepe quarter of the city stands the Mausoleum of Kemal Atatürk,
founder of the Turkish Republic. 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 Atatürk;
writings, letters and items belonging to Atatürk, as well as an exhibition of photographs
recording important moments in his life and in the establishment of the republic.
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, Roman works, and showpiece Lydian treasures.
The ETHNOGRAPHY MUSEUM is opposite the Opera
House on Talat Paşa Boulevard is the Ethnographical Museum. There is fine collection of
folkloric artifacts as well as artifacts from Seljuk and Ottoman mosques.
The MUSEUM of PAINTING AND SCULPTURE is close
to the Ethnographical 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.
The MUSEUM OF LIBERATION is just off Ulus Square
in what was originally the first parliament building of the Turkish Republic. 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 all the presidents of the Turkish
The MUSEUM OF THE REPUBLIC is housed in what
was the second parliament building of the Republic, close to the Museum of Liberation, the
exhibition here records important events in the early republican period.
Atatürk's HOUSE is on the grounds of the Presidential Palace in
Çankaya and was Atatürk's house after the founding of the Republic. The house is much as
it was in Atatürk's day, and exhibits photographs that record important events.
The NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM can be found on the grounds of the MTA
(Mineral Research and Exploration Institute) on the Eskişehir road from Ankara.the
displays record the natural development of the world.
PTT MUSEUM collections were begun between 1880 and 1888 by then-Postal
Director Izzet Efendi. The Museum was opened in 1982, and contains a postal display.
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.
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.
TCDD OPEN-AIR LOCOMOTIVE MUSEUM, near the railway station by Celal
Bayar Blvd., shows the history of steam locomotion through the locomotives on display.
CARTOGRAPHY MUSEUM, located in the Harita Genel
Komutanlığı building in the Cebeci quarter, has old and new maps.
METEOROLOGY MUSEUM on Sanatoryum Ave. in Kalaba, shows the history of
meteorology in Turkey.
EDUCATION MUSEUM follows the history and technology of education in
Turkey. It is located in Ankara Gazi University, in the Beşevler district.
TOY MUSEUM in Cebeci houses toys of all kinds made of wood, metal,
porcelain, paper, etc.
METU MUSEUM on the campus of Middle East Technical University has
archaeological artifacts and ethnographic displays.
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.
TOY MUSEUM at Ankara University, Faculty of Education /
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, many fine examples of traditional architecture can be seen within its walls. There are also lovely green areas in which to relax. It is well known that the Ankara region was the cradle of "vino" (Hatti and Hittite) 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 (back-stage), can be seen outside the citadel. Roman statues that were found here are exhibited in the Museum 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 re-constructed by the Romans on the ancient Ankara Acropolis in the 2nd century. It is important today for the Monumentum 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 Çankırı Avenue in Ulus, has all the typical features:a frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (cold room), tepidarium (cool room) and caldarium (hot room).They were built in the time of the Emperor Julian the Apostate. It stands fifteen meters high and has a typical leaf decoration on the capital.
COLUMN OF JULIAN: This column, in Ulus, was erected in 362 A.D., probably to commemorate a visit by the 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 Zafer Square, it is a symbol of the struggle for independence on the part of Atatürk and the Turkish people in the war of Liberation.
MONUMENT TO A SECURE CONFIDENT FUTURE: This monument, in Güven Park, was erected in 1935 and bears Atatürk's and the Turkish people in the War of Liberation.
VICTORY MONUMENT: Erected in 1927 in Zafer Square in the Sıhhiye quarter, it shows Atatürk in uniform.
HATTI MONUMENT: Recently erected in Sıhhiye 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 Kütahya tiles being added in the 18th century. The mosque was built in honor of Hacı Bayram Veli, whose tomb is next to the mosque.
ASLANHANE MOSQUE: This Seljuk mosque, near the citadel, was built in the 13th century. The mosque has a mihrap (prayer niche) of Seljuk tiles, and an unusual double colonnade of wooden columns. Next to the mosque is the tomb of Ahi Şerafeddin.
AHI ELVAN MOSQUE: Found in the Ulus Quarter near the Citadel 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 mimber (pulpit) and mihrap (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 Atatürk's belief in the importance of trees and natural beauty. The most important of these parks are ; Gençlik Park (which also has a Luna Park), the Botanical Garden, Seğmenler, Anayasa, Kuğulu, Abdi İpekçi, Güven, Demetevler, Cemre, Kale, Anıt, Altın (Fairground) and Kurtuluş. The Atatürk Orman Çiftliği (Atatürk Farm and Zoo) is now within the growing city and is a pleasant place to spend a day. There is a replica of the house where Atatürk was born, an excellent restaurant, and some cafés. Visitors can sample such famous products of the farm as its excellent beer, old-fashioned ice-cream, yogurt, milk, and meat rolls.
Erkeksu Çiftliği has a 9 hole golf course 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 republic and private galleries throughout the city, exhibitions are also held at the Atatürk 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 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. April Park is also the month for the International Cartoon Film Festival and in May and June is the Asian-European Arts Biennial. Altın Park is home to the Ankara Fairgrounds where lovely fairs are held year-round.
Visitors to the city usually like to visit the old shops in Çıkrıkçılar Yokuşu near Ulus. The street of Bakırcılar Çarşısı (copper workers) 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 Kızılay, on Tunalı Hilmi Avenue, including the modern malls of Karum and Printemps, and in the Atakule tower in Çankaya. From the top of Atakule (125 meters) there is a magnificent view over the whole city. There is also a revolving restaurant where the complete panorama can be enjoyed in a more leisurely fashion. The Galleria, in Ümitköy, is another modern shopping opportunity.
ENVIRONS OF ANKARA
Five kilometers to the south of Ankara on the Konya road is Gölbaşı 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 Karagöl Lake, 68 km north of the city on the airport road, for which one should take the turn off for the town of Çubuk. The three dams around the city, Çubuk (15 km on the Çankırı Highway), Kurtboğazı (50 km on the Istanbul Highway) and Bayındır (15 km on the Kırıkkale Highway) are pleasant places to visit for swimming and picnicking. There are also restaurants, and at Bayındır, good camping facilities. Other dams in the Ankara province include Sarıyar, Kesikköprü, Hirfanlı, Asartepe, and Camlıdere.
Walkers will delight in exploring the three main forests around Ankara. South of the city, on the Kırşehir Highway (54 km), is the Beynam Forest, while to the north, on the Istanbul Highway (82 km), is the Kızılcahamam Soğuksu National Park and farther along in the same direction (110 km) is the Çamkoru Forest. All are delightful retreats from the clamor of the city, and each provides many lovely places for picnics.
Elmadağ Mountain (1855 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: Kızılcahamam Kaplıca 80 km to the north, Haymana Kaplıca 72 km to the south, and to the northwest are Ayas Kaplıca (57 km), Dutlu Kaplıca (85 km) Melikşah in Çubuk (30 km), and Mahköy in Polatlı (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.