The history of Ankara and its surroundings stretches back to the Hatti civilisation of the Bronze Age. Two thousand years before the time of Jesus, the Hittites become the dominant power of the region, and were then followed by the Phyrgians, Lydians and Persians. In the 3rd Century BC, a Celtic race known as the Galatians made Ankara their capital city.
The name Ankara comes from the word Ancyra , which means anchor.
Ankara gained prominence under the leadership of Ataturk during the national resistence which followed World War I. It was declared the capital of the new Turkish Republic on October 13th 1923 when the National War of Independence freed Turkey from foreign occupation.
Occupying one of the most prominent parts of the city is Anitkabir, the magnificent mausoleum constructed to commemorate Atatürk. This structure, which was completed in 1953, is a synthesis of antique and modern architectural themes, and proves the elegance and strength of Turkish architecture.
The oldest parts of the city surround the Castle. The Alaaddin Mosque found inside its walls is still one of the best examples of Selcuk art and wood craftsmanship, in spite of the fact that it was restored by the Ottomans. The area has experienced a rejuvenation with the restoration of many interesting old Turkish houses, and the opening a several art galleries and fine restaurants which feature examples of traditional Turkish cuisine. Near the gate of the castle is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which is a beautifully restored portion of the old bazaar. It contains priceless artifacts belonging to the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras as well as the Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartu and Roman civilizations.
Ankara has a vibrant cultural and artistic life with many select ballet, theatre, opera and folk dance performances. The city s Philharmonic Orchestra, which always plays to a packed house, is especially famous.
Altindag is 1 km from the city centre and has been occupied from prehistoric times. An important centre during the Selçuk and Ottoman periods, the city has many important sites of interest to visitors. Among them are the Ankara Castle, the Temple of Augustus, the pillar of Julian, the Roman Baths, the Republic memorial, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the State Museum of Painting and Sculpture, the Museum of Ethnography, the War of Independence Museum and the Museum of the Republic. Also in this district are the tombs of Karacabey, Ahi Serafettin, Haci Bayram Veli Efendi, Karyagdi, Gulbaba and Izzettin Baba and the Haci Bayram, Aslanhane, Ahi Elvan, Alaaddin, Zincirli, and Kursunlu Mosques.
One of the most important districts in Ankara, this large area contains many places of interest. The Ataturk Orman Ciftligi, Eymir Lake, Elmadag Ski Facilities, Ahlatlibel Sport and Entertainment Centre are all within this area.
The huge list of primary tourist attractions includes: Anitkabir, the Ataturk Museum, the Ataturk Memorial (Zafer Aniti-Sihhiye), the MTA Natural History Museum, the Security Memorial, the Ethnographic Ataturk Memorial, the Natural History Museum, the Archeology Museum of Middle East Technical University, the State Painting and Statue Exhibit, Memorial Park, the Botanical Garden, Abdi Ipekci Park, Guven Park, Kurtulus Park, Kugulu (Swan) Park, the National Sovereignty Park, Ahmet Arif Park and sport facilities such as the Municipal Ice Skating rinks and the Indoor Pool at 100 Yil. There is also a Toy Museum (Cebeci-Ankara University Education Faculty), the Hittite Memorial, Atakule and the Turkish National Parliament buildings.
Kecioren is one of Ankara s central districts, and host to the world s biggest meteorology centre, as well as several departments of Ankara University, the Ataturk Sanatorium and the Gulhane Military Medical Academy. Also here is the Old Ankara Agricultural School, used by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as a military headquarters during the War of Independence, and is now a museum.
Yenimahalle is within the city and has attractions which reflect the rich history of the area. Its highlight is the Akkopru Bridge, built in 1222 by the Selcuk ruler Ala addin Keykubat along the old Bagdat Commercial road over Ankara Creek, which has four large arches and three small.
Outside the city
Akyurt is 33 km from the city centre, and was occupied from the Early Bronze Age until the 14th century. A large tumulus 15 meters high and 200-300 meters in diameter was found 1 km northeast of the village of Balikhisar, which is a settlement from the 3rd millenium BC, and belongs to the Early Bronze Age.
This area, located 58 km from Ankara, is famous for its thermal springs. The radioactive waters of the Karakaya thermal springs and the mineral drinking water, 23 km west of Ayas, are known to be beneficial for those in poor health. The vineyards at Karadere, Ova, Ariklari and Kirazdibi are some of the district s natural resources.
The forest at Beynam National Park, 35 km from Bala on the district border, is an important recreation spot for city residents of Ankara, as well as the locals of Bala.
Located 99 km from Ankara, Beypazari s history goes back to the Hittites and Phyrgians. Beypazari and its surroundings have been controlled by the Galatians, Romans, Selcuks and Ottomans, and at one time was an episcopal centre. From historical artifacts and ancient maps, we know that its original name of Lagania was later changed to Anastasiopolis.
This charming district is famous for its historical houses, silver craftsmen and for its carrots. Within the district are many places of interest, including the Bogazkesen tomb, Suluhan, the Old Baths, the Sultan Ala addin Mosque, the Aksemseddin Mosque, the Kursunlu Mosque, the Rustem Pasa Baths, the tomb of Gazi Gunduzalp (Hirkatepe), Kara Davut s Tomb (Kuyumcutekke) and the tomb of Karaca Ahmet.
The Tekke Highlands
The Egriova highlands, 10 km from the town, the lake and geological structures resembling fairy chimneys around the village of Dereli, are some of the district s more interesting sites.
The district of Camlidere is located 108km northwest of Ankara. There is a mosque belonging to the Selcuk period in the nearby town of Pecenek. It is possible to come across the remains of graves and settlements from the Byzantine Era as well.
Cubuk is 39 km from Ankara s city centre. The ruined castle at Aktepe and the Carved Rock (Oyulu Kaya) grave in the village of Karadana are remains of Hittite settlement. Later the area would be ruled by the Phrygians, Galatians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines and Selcuks respectively, and it was also area of some importance during the Ottoman Empire. The forest around Cubuk Dam and Lake Karagol are important recreation spots.
The Phrygians, Lydians, Persians and later Romans all ruled in the vicinity of Elmadag, located 41km from the city centre. The motifs and styles of the local hand-woven carpets, rugs, and various bags stretch all the way back to the Selcuk era. Carpet-making still happens in the villages of Tekke and Akcaali, while rugs and handwoven bags still preserve their cultural roots in the villages of Akcaali, Deliler, Hasanoglan, Karacahasan and Kayadibi.
The district of Etimesgut is 20 km from the center of Ankara. Both the Phrygians and Hittites are known to have had settlements in this area. This area was settled mostly by Turks immigrating from western Trakya after the declaration of the independent Turkish Republic.
The historical Gazi Train Station and the Etimesgut Train Station, which was used by Ataturk on his travels to and from Istanbul, are both interesting sites. Ahi Mes ud and Ahi Elvan, both great important people, named this district and Ahi Elvan s Tomb is found in the courtyard of the Elvankoy Mosque.
The history of this area, situated 178 km from Ankara, dates right back to the Hittite Period. Within the district along the Evren-Sariyahsi road, about 2km from Evren, is a tumulus, at which have been found ceramic artifacts dating back to the first millenium AD. Sigircik Castle, 2km southwest of Catalpinar village, belongs to the late Byzantine and Ottoman period.
Situated 20 km from Ankara, Golbasi and the surrounding area is important to Ankara in terms of recreation, summer getaway and tourism, as well as hosting important industries. Mogan and Eymir lakes with their natural beauty, clean fresh air and fishing make the area appealing to tourists and locals.
The villages in this area all have a fascinating historical background, with many sites worth seeing. For example: the tumuluses and artifacts found in the villages of Selametli, Gokcehoyuk and Bezirhane; the Roman burial sites and columns in the village of Taspinar; the Byzantine coins and artifacts found in Karaoglan; and the remains of churches belonging to the early Christian period in the villages of Yurtbeyi and Karaoglan.
Located 89 km northwest of the Ankara, Gudul s history dates back to 3500-3000 BC. Huge caves found along Kirmir Creek, which flows through the district, have yielded evidence of Hittite settlement.
Haymana s thermal springs, 73 km from Ankara, are world-famous and were used even as far back as the Hittites. After the Hittites, the thermal spring facilities were repaired during the Roman era; and a town, whose ruins can still be seen, was founded 1.5 km east of Haymana and eventually became a therapy centre.
Situated 71 km from Ankara, Kalecik is believed to have first been inhabited in the early Chalcolithic Period between 3500-4000 BC. Notable historic sites in the district include the Hasbey, Saray and Tabakhane Mosques, the Tombs of Kazancibaba and Alisoglu, the Develioglu Bridge spanning the Kizilirmak River and Kalecik Castle.
Kazan It is not exactly known when Kazan, 45km from the city centre, was first established. Excavations have uncovered a number of historical artifacts demonstrating that the area has been used by number of different civilizations for settlement.
Situated 83 km from Ankara, Kizilcahamam is the most heavily forested town in the province. The Sey Hamami thermal springs, 16km from Kizilcahamam, have rich mineral waters which are among the most important thermal springs in the country.
Nallihan s history is similar to that of the surrounding cities. The county seat, Nallihan, 161 km from Ankara, was established in 1599 when Vizier Nasuhpasa had a han built there - hence the name. The roof of this 3000 sq. meter han is in poor repair, and the mosque and a Turkish bath date back to the same time. The Uluhan mosque in Uluhan (Kostebek) village was constructed in the 17th century, and is a valuable historical structure.
Polatli, 78km from Ankara, was established around 3000 BC but its centre then Gordion and the surrounding area, which was the largest Phrygian city in the world. Gordion was ruled in succession by the Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Romans and Byzantines, and was added to the Ottoman Empire in 1516 by Yavuz Sultan Selim.
The village of Yassihoyuk and the surrounding area, which lies 20 km northwest of the present-day Polatli, can truly to considered a birthplace of history. There are 86 tumuluses and royal burial sites in the area, as well as numerous artifacts from the city.
148 km from Ankara, Sereflikochisar was first settled between 1400-1300 BC. In the Selcuk era there was a castle around the hill right next to the town, and a second castle on an even higher hill. The Salt Lake, which is the second largest lake in Turkey is also in this district. The Hirfanli Dam and lake found to the north provide irrigation for this arid region and there is fish farming as well. The Salt Lake, the Kursunlu Mosque, Kochisar Castle, and Parlasan Castle are all popular tourist destinations.
How to Get
It is possible to get to any point in Turkey from Ankara by bus, and even further afield with services to surrounding countries - even Moscow. The main bus station is 5km west of Kizilay, with over 100 bus companies operating from there. Many local buses go there, and most companies will have a service minibus operating to and from the city centre.
The International Esenboga Airport is 30km north of the city center. Transportation is provided by HAVAS shuttle buses, as well as taxis. There are flights to all the other cities in Turkey, with many each day to Istanbul.
There are direct rail services to the following destinations:
Istanbul, Izmir, Balikesir, Isparta and Burcdur, Zonguldak, Adana, Elazig and Diyarbakir. As with all reservations in Turkey, the fast trains get booked up quickly, as do sleepers, so booking ahead is strongly recommended
The mausoleum of the Republic s founder and leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Anitkabir was built on the hill of Rasattepe and has an impressive entrance. It was designed by architects Prof. Emin Onat and Doc. Orahn Arda, and completed in 1953. Ataturk was removed from the temporary burial site at the Ethnographic Museum and brought here with great ceremony the same year.
Within the Anitkabir complex are the Tower of Independence, the Tower of Liberty, The Road of Lions, Mudafaa-i Hukuk Tower, the Soldier s Tower, the Tower of Victory, the Tower of Peace, the April 23 Tower, the Misak-i Milli Tower, the Reform Tower and the Victory Reliefs. The hallowed Mausoleum hall itself is a colonnaded temple with huge bronze doors but little in the way of decoration. Opposite is the tomb of Ismet Inonu, the first prime minister of the Turkish republic and president after Ataturk s death.
The Anitkabir museum is located between the Tower of the National Pact and the Tower of the Revolution. A number of Ataturk s personal belongings are exhibited, including clothes that he wore, and gifts presented to him by visiting foreign dignitaries.
Opening hours: Winter - 0900-1200 & 1300-1700. Summer - 0900-1230 & 1330-1700, closed Mondays.
Anatolian Civilisations Museum
Located on the south side of Ankara Castle in the Atpazari area, the Museum consists of the old Ottoman Mahmut Pasa bazaar storage building, and the Kursunlu Han. Because of Ataturk s desire to establish a Hittite museum, the buildings were bought upon the suggestion of Hamit Zubeyir Kosay, who was then Culture Minister, to the National Education Minister, Saffet Arikan. After the remodelling and repairs were completed (1938 -1968), the building was opened to the public as the Ankara Archaeological Museum.
Today Kursunlu Han, used as an administrative building, houses the work rooms, library, conference hall, laboratory and workshop. The old bazaar building houses the exhibits. Within this Ottoman building, the museum has a number of exhibits of Anatolian archeology. They start with the Paleolithic era, and continue chronologically through the Neolithic, Early Bronze, Assyrian Trading Colonies, Hittite, Phrygian and Urartu periods. There is also an extensive collection of artifacts from the excavations at Karain, Catalhoyuk, Hacilar, Canhasan, Beyce Sultan, Alacahoyuk, Alacahoyuk, Kultepe, Acemhoyuk, Bogazkoy Gordion, Pazarli, Altintepe, Adilcevaz and Patnos as well as examples of several periods.
The exhibits of gold, silver, glass, marble and bronze works date back as far as the second half of the first millennium BC. The coin collections, with examples ranging from the first minted money to modern times, represent the museum s rare cultural treasures.
Opening hours: 08.30 - 17.30, closed Mondays
This museum was founded in the Namazgah area of Ankara, on a hill with a Muslim graveyard, and was opened to the public on July 18, 1930. The courtyard was closed in November 1938 when it served as the temporary burial site for Ataturk, and reopened when his body was moved to Anitkabir. This section is still preserved as a tomb in symbolic respect of the memory of Atatürk, as the Museum served as his tomb for 15 years.
The Ethnographical Museum has examples of Turkish art from the Selcuk period until the present day. There is a library for specialists in Anatolian ethnography, folklore and art history located in the museum. The building is rectangular with a single dome, and the stone walls covered with travertine. The pediment is marble with ornate carvings, and a staircase of 28 steps lead to main entrance. There are three entrances to the building which has 4 columns. The column-lined inner court is reached by passing through a domed hall. A marble pool in the middle of the open courtyard is surrounded by a number of large and small rooms. The two-story administrative building is adjacent to the museum.
Opening hours: 0830-1230 & 1330-1730, closed Mondays
State Museum of Painting and Sculpture
Built in 1927 as the Turk Ocagi by architect Arif Hikmet Koyunoglu from the orders of Ataturk, it has paintings and plastic art of Turkish artists. Temporary exhibits of both foreign and Turkish artists are sponsored.
Opening hours: 0900-1200 & 1330-1700, closed Mondays.
Museum of the Republic
Originally planned to house the People s Republic Party, it was actually the second building for the Turkish National Parliament, as its first was too small to meet the needs of the developing Turkish Republic.
The building s interior sections are arranged around the three sides of the two-story Parliament Hall, located in the centre of the building. Exhibited here are the Parliament Hall with its original furnishings, the rooms where Ataturk s principles and reforms were discussed. Photographs and various personal belongings reflect the era of the first three Prime Ministers: Ataturk, Ismet Inonu and Celal Bayar. In the meeting hall, there is a wax re-incarnation of section of the Great Speech delivered by Ataturk, between the 15-20 October 1927.
Opening hours: 09.00-12.00 & 13.30-17.00, closed Mondays.
Museum of the War of Independence (1st Parliament Building)
The building situated in Ulus Square housed the first Turkish National Parliament, from April 23 1920 to October 15 1924. It was later the headquarters of the People s Republic Party, and then the Law School. In 1952 it was turned over to the Ministry of Education and on April 23 1961 it was opened to the public as the Museum of the Turkish National Parliament.
The building consists of the hall, the corridor, the Chambers of the Ruling Council, the Committee Room, the Break Room, the Administrative Rooms, the Parliamentary Meeting Hall, Office of Parliament Head, the storage for photographs and other items, and the basement which is used as an exhibition hall.
Opening hours: 08.30 - 12.15, & 13.30 - 17.15, closed Mondays
The Atatürk Museum In The Atatürk Model Farm
The Railway Museum
Built in 1924, this historic stone-cut building consists of two floors, each 340 square metres. Exhibited here are items demonstrating the technological developments of the state railroad.
Opening hours: 1330-1700, except Sundays and Mondays.
The Ankara Ataturk Cultural Centre & Museum of the Revolution of the Republic
Opening on December 27 1987, the walls of the ground floor are covered with reliefs depicting the War of Independence, the reforms, the Republic of Ataturk, and his ideas concerning art, youth and independence. One by one the different sections of the wall are lit up and the visitor is taken on a tour of the reliefs with a musical accompaniment. These demonstrations have been prepared in Turkish, English, German and French.
In the basement, the War of Independence, reforms and development of Turkey and the relevant institutions that played an important role, are documented through words, pictures and models. There is also a 25-minute multimedia presentation documenting the Turkish journey from Central Asia, to the founding of a republic after the War of Independence, and all of Atatürk s reforms which followed.
Opening hours: 0830-1730, closed Saturdays and Sundays
MTA Natural History Museum
In the museum are examples from the fields of paleontology and geography, including fossils, minerals and rocks. There is also the skeleton of the Maras Elephant, the giant Amonit that lived in the vicinity of Ankara 193 million years ago, and the fossilised footprints of humans who lived in Anatolia 25,000 years ago and were found in Manisa.
Opening hours: Weekdays - 0900-1700. Weekends 1000-1500.
The museum, found on the campus of the Middle East Technical University (Orta Dogu Teknik Universitesi), has exhibits featuring the slowly disappearing folk art, and finds from archeological excavations. There are artifacts recovered from the Phrygian tumulus in Besevler belonging to the Chalcolithic, Early Bronze and Phrygian periods.
Opening hours: 0830-1700, except Saturday and Sunday.
The museum was established in 1963 beside the tiny village now known as Yassihoyuk. Today, the Gordion Museum offers a chronological exhibition with characteristic examples from each of the periods represented. There are three displays consisting of artifacts from the Early Bronze age, featuring King Midas and ending with the Phrygian Era. Among the exhibits are clay jars from the Late Iron Age, and cutting tools and instruments used in textile production belonging to the Late Phrygian Era.
In the Panoramic display, located in the new exhibition room, there is a typical structure dating back to the 7th century BC which was found in a strata belonging to the conquest of the city. The last section gives visitors a chance to see seals and coins recovered from Gordion.
The new excavations have been planted with trees that the Phrygians used to make their furniture: cedar, aromatic juniper, Turkish boxwood, yellow pine, walnut and yew. The newly arrived Mosaics and the Celtic Grave is another section. The Gordion Museum consists of the exhibition hall, the new exhibition hall, the Phrygian Mosaics, the Administrative offices, Toilets, Storage, the Laboratory, the Mosaics, the Celtic Grave and the living quarters.
Opening hours: Summer - 0830-1730 daily. Winter - 0830-1700, except Monday.
Beypazarı Culture and History Museum
Alagoz Military Headquarters Museum
When the Turkish army was retreating to the Sakarya Line during the War of Independence, Commander-in-Chief Mustafa Kemal Ataturk set up his headquarters and directed the war from this farmhouse, decorated in typical Turkish taste.
The building, once used as a military headquarters, was donated by the sons of Mahmut and Serafettin Turkoglu, the sons of Turkoglu Ali, to be used as a museum and built by the National Education Ministry. The building and its garens were restored by the ministry and ceremonially opened to visitors on November 10 1968. Today it is a branch of Anitkabir Museum and some of Ataturk s garments and weapons are also displayed.
Opening days to visit: Everyday except Saturday and Sunday.
State Meteorological Service s Museum
Used as War Department Staff Headquarters during the War of Independence, this historic building with its modern equipment serves over 1100 stations of varying size. The room in which Ataturk stayed and laid out strategy for the battles of the War of Independence have been turned into a museum called Ataturk s Room. The stove, table and curtains found in the room are all original. In addition, the Meteorology Museum with its old tools and devices used for predicting weather, is open to visitors.
Opening hours: 0900-1200 & 1400-1700.
Vehbi Koc Museum and the Ankara Research Center (VEKAM)
The house in Kecioren which belonged to Vehbi Koc, was restored and opened in 1994 as the Research Centre. The archives contain a wide selection of books, documents, photographs and films regarding Vehbi Koc and Ankara. It is open to researchers and the public.
Opening hours: 0900-1730, except Tuesdays.
The Toy Museum The Toy Museum is part of the Education Science Faculty of Ankara University Museum.