Ankara

Old Ankara by CC user 34196312@N08 on Flickr

Introduction

Located well within the interior of Turkey, Ankara is well off the tourist track. Being the capital of the Republic though, it contains cultural elements that are tragically missed by those unwilling to detour of this nation’s beaches and mainstream attractions.

Those looking for an off-the-beaten track experience will not be disappointed though, as the monuments, museums and charming old neighborhoods will reward them for their sense of adventure.

Those seeking out world class attractions should still include this place in their itinerary though, as one of the Middle East’s most prominent civilizations had its capital within a short shuttle bus of this modern city. Give Ankara a chance. You’ll forget about the slow traffic after visiting any one of the underrated attractions found here.

Anıtkabir by CC user jries on Flickr

Cultural Experiences

Being located on the fringes of the Middle East, Turkey has hosted civilizations dating many thousands of years back in history. The Anatolian Civilizations Museum documents the history of human habitation in this part of the world, hosting extensive exhibits of artifacts dating as far back as 10,000 years into the past.

From hunter gatherer tribes to the Assyrians straight through to the Ottoman Turks, the tools, pottery, and statuettes found here can be thought of as the story of humanity itself, reaching back into the earliest days of organized settlement and chronicling the journey to where we find ourselves in the present day.

Those wanting to explore the ancient remains of the Hittite civilization need only take a short shuttle ride from Ankara to Hattusa, which served as its capital during its apex 3,300 years ago. While little remains standing as it was during its glory days, the outlines of temples, defensive ramparts and gates can be easily seen. By hiring a guide, you will be able to fully understand the significance of this once mighty city.

In the wake of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey began its transition towards becoming a republic. Anıtkabir is a mausoleum that houses the remains of the first democratically elected president, as well as the body of Turkey’s second leader.

Defined by its imposing facade and the sweeping courtyard that proceeds in front of it, this site is not merely a place to honor the founders of the Turkic Republic, but to also proclaim the ideals of this nation. Containing symbolic statues, reliefs, and artifacts scattered amidst ten towers, this site is an essential stop for those looking to understand modern day Turkey.

Hamamönü by CC user 55293400@N07 on Flickr

Other Attractions

Those looking to dive deeper into Turkish history after visiting Anitkabir will want to stop by the Ethnography Museum of Ankara, as it contains displays that offer a deeper insight into the cultures that compose this nation. From clothes to weapons, the origins of Turkish coffee and much more, this highly informative museum lays out the contributions of Turkey to global culture over the many thousands of years of its existence in the world.

Towering on a hill well above the modern city that exists today, the Ankara Citadel is a fortified position that has existed for eons. The date of its construction is a mystery, with guesses ranging from the Middle Ages to the days before the birth of Christ. What isn’t in question is the fascination that many have with this weathered outpost, as well as the stunning views it affords of the surrounding area. Be sure to bring plenty of lira with you, as merchants trading in items ranging from carpets to dried fruit ply their trade here. Try your luck at haggling with them and bring home a unique souvenir that your family and friends will love!

End your time in Ankara by spending an afternoon or evening in the Hamamonu Restored Area, which is a world apart from the congested nature of modern Ankara. Possessing architectural styles common in the past couple of centuries, this part of town is a perfect place to sample Turkish cuisine in inspired surroundings, walk amidst narrow streets that exude charm, and shop for unique Turkish handicrafts that will leave you with the perfect reminder of the time you spent in Turkey’s capital.

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