Turkish landscape encompasses a vast variety of geographical zone, it has combined characteristics of the three continents of the world: Europe, Asia and Africa. Turkey has remarkably wide climatic variations. Surrounded by seas on three sides, it is a beach paradise with over 8.000 km of sunny strips of sand. It also has an abundance of plant and wildlife species that can be enjoyed in the many national parks around the country.
Home to more than 20 different fascinating civilizations, Turkey has a 10.000 year-old heritage, much of which is still being uncovered. Its rich history is very much part of the present, with temples, ancient theatres, churches, mosques, tombs, palaces and fortresses, and many fascinating museums which bring the past to life.
In cities like İstanbul and Ankara, there is a modern, lively ambience of contemporary society living alongside tradition.
Ankara, the capital of Turkey, is in the heart of Anatolia, the cradle of many great civilizations. The region’s history goes back to the Hatti civilization of the second millennium to be followed by the Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, and Persians. The Galatians, a branch of the Celts, were to make Ankara their capital in the third century BC, then known as “Ancyra”. The city was later taken by the Romans, Byzantines, the Seljuk Turks, and finally the Ottoman Turks.
Ankara originally was a small rural town located in and around the historical citadel. When the rural town housed the first Parliament of the Republic, it was fated to become the capital. Ankara as the capital city is basically the administrative centre of the country. By hosting five state and seven private universities it is also a student city. Being one of the largest cities in the country, second after İstanbul, it provides ample cultural and recreational activities. Ankara is big enough to feel cosmopolitan, but small enough not to be overwhelming. Being well designed and compact, the amenities are conveniently positioned and easily accessible.
Cultural and Historical Highlights of Ankara
Museums are generally open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 or 5:30 p.m., and closed on Mondays.
Anıtkabir is where the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, stands. Completed in 1953, it is an impressive fusion of ancient and modern architectural styles. An adjacent museum houses Atatürk’s writings, letters and personal items, as well as an exhibition of photographs recording important moments in his life and during the establishment of the Republic.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is an old “bedesten” (covered bazaar) that has been restored and now houses a unique collection of Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, and Roman works as well as a major section dedicated to Lydian treasures.
Ethnography Museum holds a fine collection folkloric as well as Seljuk and Ottoman era artifacts.
State Art and Sculpture Museum houses a rich collection of Turkish art from the late 19th century to the present day.
Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum is an industrial museum located in the historic Çengelhan, a former Caravanserai built in 1522. The museum displays a huge variety of exhibits on diverse themes such as engineering, road transport, scientific instruments, maritime and medicine equipments and many others.
Museum of the War of Independence located in the first Parliament building of the Republic of Turkey where the war of Independence was planned and directed. Photographs and items as well as wax figures of former presidents are on display.
Citadel, the foundation of which were laid by Galatians on a prominent lava outcrop, and the rest was completed by the Romans. The Byzantines and Seljuks further 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 recreational areas to relax. Many restored traditional Turkish houses inside the Citadel area have found new life as restaurants serving local cuisine.
Roman Theatre, the remains of which can be seen outside the Citadel is still under excavation. Roman statues that were found here are exhibited in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.
Temple of Augustus, also known as the Monumentum Ancyranum, was built between 25 BC – 20 BC following the conquest of Central Anatolia by the Roman Empire and the formation of the Roman province Galatia, with Ancyra as its administrative capital. The Temple was enlarged by the Romans in the 2nd century. In the 5th century it was converted into a church by the Byzantines.
Roman Bath was built during the reign of Emperor Caracalla in the 3rd century AD to honor Asclepios, the God of Medicine. It has all the typical features of a classical Roman bath: a frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (cool room) and caldarium (hot room). Today only the basement and first floors remain.
Column of Julian was erected in 362 to commemorate a visit by the Roman Emperor Julian. It stands fifteen meters high and has a typical leaf decoration on the capital.