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Ankara Unveiled: Beyond Monuments, Unveiling Modern Turkey

Jan 2

As a traveller, you always look for an authentic cultural experience. While Turkey is known for its historic sites like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, there is so much more that this country has to offer. Ankara, the capital of Turkey, is one such place that should be on your itinerary.

Ankara: Beyond Monuments

Ankara is a city that boasts of modern developments, vibrant neighbourhoods, and cultural experiences. While the city might not be as aesthetically pleasing as Istanbul, it more than makes up for it with its food, people, and culture. One of the must-visit places in Ankara is the Kocatepe Mosque, one of the world's largest mosques. You can also explore the old town area of Ulus, home to traditional Turkish markets, museums, and ancient ruins like the Roman Theatre. For a more modern experience, visit the Atakule Tower, where you can enjoy breathtaking city views.

Unveiling Modern Turkey

Ankara is also a city that portrays the modern side of Turkey. The city's extensive metro network, high-speed trains, and shopping centres like Armada and Cepa Mall are perfect examples of the country's advancements. The city is also home to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. The mausoleum is a symbol of reverence and a museum that documents the country's journey toward modernity.

Ankara is a city that deserves much more than just a day trip. The city's contrast between modernity and tradition and cultural experiences would make your visit all the more worthwhile.


The Heart of Anitkabir

Ankara's most iconic landmark, Anitkabir, is a must-see attraction for visitors to the city. This mausoleum is the final resting place of the beloved Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. 

Anitkabir: Turkey's Most Revered Monument

The sheer magnitude of Anitkabir is awe-inspiring. The monument spans over 750,000 square meters and houses Atatürk's tomb and several museums showcasing the country's history, culture, and achievements. 

Anitkabir's Architecture and Symbolism

Anitkabir's architecture and symbolism blend modern and classical Turkish design. It is an emblem of the country's transformation from the Ottoman Empire to a modern nation. The central hall of the mausoleum features a massive statue of Atatürk, and the surrounding walls are adorned with intricate reliefs and inscriptions depicting Turkish history. 

Visiting Anitkabir is a humbling experience that helps you understand the spirit that drives Turkey and its people. It is not just a monument; it is a tribute to the country's heroes, a metaphor for its progress, and a symbol of hope for its future.


The Ethnographic Museum of Ankara

The Ethnographic Museum of Ankara is a must-see destination if you're interested in traditional Turkish culture. This fascinating museum provides visitors with a glimpse into the daily lives and cultural beliefs of Turkey's diverse ethnic groups. 

Discovering Traditional Turkish Culture

The Ethnographic Museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing Turkey's cultural heritage. The exhibits explore the country's traditional crafts, costumes, household items, and musical instruments. You'll understand the region's architectural styles, customs, and rituals and discover how they've influenced Turkish culture throughout history.

The Artifacts and Exhibits of the Ethnographic Museum

The museum's collections include many unique artefacts, including beautiful textiles, intricately designed ceramics, and handcrafted jewellery. One of the most striking exhibits is the traditional Turkish carpets and kilims collection. These hand-woven works of art come in various colours and patterns, each with its unique story.

Another highlight of the museum is the replica of an Ottoman-era Turkish house. Visitors can explore the interior, furnished with original period pieces, and learn about the traditional lifestyles of the time.

Overall, the Ethnographic Museum is a must-visit for Turkish culture and history. With its impressive collections and informative displays, it's a fascinating look at the rich tapestry of traditions and customs that make up this vibrant nation.


War of Independence Museum

If you want to learn about the history of the Turkish War of Independence, the War of Independence Museum in Ankara is a must-visit destination. The museum pays tribute to Turkey's founding fathers and showcases Ankara's crucial role in the country's struggle for independence. 

A Tribute to Turkey's Founding Fathers

The War of Independence Museum is dedicated to honouring the memory of Turkey's founding fathers, including Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the country's first president. The museum has an extensive collection of artefacts, memorabilia, and personal belongings belonging to Turkey's revolutionary leaders, allowing visitors to glimpse their lives and legacies.

The Role of Ankara in the Turkish War of Independence

The museum also sheds light on Ankara's important role during the Turkish War of Independence. Exhibits showcase how Ankara became the centre of the independence movement, with its strategic location as a vital link between eastern and western Turkey. Through multimedia presentations, visitors can relive the key events in Ankara during this crucial time. 

Overall, the War of Independence Museum in Ankara is a treasure trove of history. Its remarkable collections and informative displays offer a fascinating insight into the birth of modern Turkey.


The Grand National Assembly of Turkey

A Symbol of Turkish Democracy

If you're looking for an important symbol of Turkish democracy, you won't want to miss the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. This parliamentary building was the site of the founding of the modern Turkish Republic in 1923, and it remains a vital centre of the country's political life.

The History and Significance of the Turkish Parliament

The Grand National Assembly was constructed in the early 20th century, during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. Today, visitors can tour the historic building to learn about Turkey's transition from a monarchy to a democratic republic. You can see the original furnishings and decor, including the magnificent ceiling of the main hall, which depicts the ancient goddess Athena.

In the Assembly's museum, you'll find exhibits on the development of Turkish democracy and displays featuring prominent politicians and statesmen. You can learn about the inner workings of the parliament through multimedia presentations, which detail the legislative process in Turkey.

A visit to the Grand National Assembly offers a valuable opportunity to learn about a key aspect of Turkish identity and history. Whether you're a student of politics or simply interested in cultural landmarks, this site is not to be missed.


Ankara Citadel and Its Surroundings

Ankara's Historic Fortress

If you're interested in exploring ancient fortresses, the Ankara Citadel and its surroundings should be on your list. The citadel dates back to the 7th century, and it has witnessed some of the most important events in Turkish history.

The citadel was built during the Byzantine era and has since been controlled by different empires, including the Seljuk, Ottoman, and modern Turkish governments. The citadel served as a military fortress throughout history, undergoing numerous renovations and expansions. Today, visitors can experience the impressive architecture, including high walls and towers, and the stunning views of the city from the top.

Exploring the Citadel and Its Surrounding Neighborhood

The Citadel is located in the heart of Ankara, and its surrounding neighbourhood is full of historical and cultural significance. You can visit nearby museums, including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which houses artefacts from the Paleolithic era to the Ottoman period. Or you can explore the Roman Theater, which dates back to the 2nd century AD.

The neighbourhood is also home to many shops and restaurants where you can taste traditional Turkish cuisine, buy souvenirs, or simply enjoy the local ambience. The area is especially lively in the evenings, with street performers and vendors lining the streets.

Overall, the Ankara Citadel and its surroundings offer a rich opportunity to experience Turkish history and culture. Its fascinating architecture, stunning views, and vibrant neighbourhood make it a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in exploring the city of Ankara.


Kocatepe Mosque

A Modern Ottoman Architecture

If you're looking for a grand display of modern Ottoman architecture, the Kocatepe Mosque should be on your list. The mosque is located in the heart of Ankara and stands as one of the most popular landmarks in the city.

Design and Architecture of Kocatepe Mosque

The mosque was built in the 1980s and features a stunning fusion of Ottoman and modern architectural styles. The building has a classic Ottoman dome, minarets, and a vast inner courtyard, but it also incorporates glass and steel structures, giving it a modern touch. The mosque's design intends to evoke a feeling of modernity while maintaining the traditional Ottoman character.

Inside the mosque, the ambience is just as impressive. The main hall can accommodate up to 24,000 worshippers, and the walls are adorned with Arabic calligraphy. The mosque also features a variety of modern amenities, including air conditioning and a sound system.

Visitors can find various shops and restaurants in the surrounding neighbourhood, ranging from traditional street vendors to upscale stores and cafes. The area is especially vibrant during religious festivals when crowds flock to the mosque to participate in the celebrations.

Overall, the Kocatepe Mosque offers a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity, making it an excellent destination for visitors interested in exploring Ankara's rich history and culture.


Atakule Tower and the Surrounding Area

Ankara's Most Iconic Landmark

If you're exploring Ankara and looking for a landmark that's hard to miss, then Atakule Tower should be on your list. Standing at 125 meters tall, Atakule is considered one of the city's most iconic structures and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the area.

Viewing Ankara from the Top of Atakule Tower

Upon reaching the top of the tower, you'll be greeted with a stunning vista of Ankara's cityscape. You can try spotting Ankara's nearby landmarks like Kocatepe Mosque, Roman Baths and the old castle at the foot of the mountain. There are also powerful binoculars that you can use to get a closer look at specific locations. Moreover, Atakule has a revolving restaurant on the top floor, providing a scenic view while enjoying a meal.

Additionally, the area surrounding Atakule Tower is a bustling hub of activity with its numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops. The mall within Atakule also has some of the biggest Turkish brands, from clothing to accessories, making it a great place to shop for souvenirs and gifts.

Overall, Atakule Tower and its surrounding area are perfect for those who want to explore the best views of Ankara and indulge in some retail therapy in this busy city.


An Off-the-Beaten-Path Experience

Exploring Ankara's Hidden Gems

Are you someone who's always looking for something unique and offbeat? Then, exploring Ankara's hidden gems is meant for you. While Atakule Tower, with its stunning views and bustling surroundings, is undoubtedly a must-visit destination, Ankara has much more beyond its famous landmarks.

From Kugulu Park, with its serene lake and resident swans, to the remnants of the ancient city of Ankyra, there are plenty of hidden gems to explore. You can stroll through the majestic Anitkabir, built in honour of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, witness the stunning Ottoman architecture at Haci Bayram Mosque, or explore the local marketplaces like the Ulus Friday market.

Ankara Beyond Tourist Destinations

If you want to go beyond Ankara's tourist destinations, head to the trendy Kavaklidere neighbourhood, famous for its upscale restaurants and cocktail bars. You can also walk around the up-and-coming Tunali district, which offers an exciting mix of local and international dining and shopping options.

With its unique blend of history, culture, and modernity, Ankara provides an unforgettable experience that goes beyond its famous landmarks. So, explore the city's hidden gems; you might just be surprised by how much Ankara has to offer.


Travel Tips and Recommendations

  • Wear comfortable shoes, as quite a bit of walking is involved when exploring Ankara's hidden gems.

  • Consider visiting during spring or fall, as the weather can be quite hot during summer.

  • Take advantage of local public transportation, such as the Ankara Metro, to get around the city.

  • Bring cash when visiting local marketplaces like Ulus Friday market, as credit cards may not be accepted.

  • Try the local cuisine, such as döner kebab, lahmacun, and baklava, for an authentic Turkish food experience.

With these tips and recommendations, you can make the most of your trip to Ankara and have a memorable off-the-beaten-path experience.