Ankara: A Journey Through Time

Ankara: A Journey Through Time

Ankara is the capital city of Turkey, located in the central part of the country. It is situated on a high plateau, surrounded by mountains and hills, and is known for its historical landmarks, museums, vibrant culture, and modern architecture.

Short History

Ankara is the capital and second-largest city of Turkey, located in the central part of the country. The area around Ankara has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, with Hittite, Phrygian, and Galatian civilizations leaving their mark on the city’s history. In the 3rd century BC, the city was captured by the Celts and was later ruled by the Romans and Byzantines. After the Seljuk Turks conquered the city in the 11th century, it became an important center for trade and culture. In 1923, Ankara became the capital of the newly founded Republic of Turkey, and it has since grown into a modern city with a rich cultural heritage.


Ankara has a diverse architectural heritage that reflects its long and complex history. The city’s architecture combines elements of Ottoman, Seljuk, Byzantine, and Roman styles, as well as modernist and contemporary designs. Some of the notable landmarks in Ankara include the Ankara Castle, which was built by the Romans and later expanded by the Ottomans, the Kocatepe Mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in Turkey, and the Atakule Tower, a modernist skyscraper that offers panoramic views of the city. Other notable buildings include the Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and the Presidential Complex, which houses the offices of the President of Turkey.

Museums and Galleries

There are several museums and galleries to explore in Ankara that showcase the history and culture of Turkey. Some of the most interesting ones include:

  • Anıtkabir: This is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. It is also a museum that exhibits his personal belongings and photographs.
  • Museum of Anatolian Civilizations: It is one of the most important museums in Turkey, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Anatolia, including Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, and Roman artifacts.
  • CerModern: This contemporary art museum hosts various exhibitions, events, and concerts in a former train depot that has been restored.
  • Ethnography Museum: The museum showcases traditional Turkish clothing, household items, and other artifacts from different regions of Turkey.
  • State Art and Sculpture Museum: The museum displays a collection of Turkish art from the 19th and 20th centuries, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics.
  • TCDD Open Air Steam Locomotive Museum: This outdoor museum features a collection of historic steam locomotives and wagons.
  • Contemporary Arts Center: It hosts various exhibitions, performances, and workshops related to contemporary art.

These museums and galleries offer a glimpse into the rich history and cultural heritage of Ankara and Turkey as a whole.

Landmarks and Monuments

Ankara has a rich history and is home to numerous landmarks and monuments. Here are some of the most interesting ones:

  • Anıtkabir: Anıtkabir is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey. It is a massive structure that contains Atatürk’s tomb, a museum, and a ceremonial plaza.
  • Kocatepe Mosque: This grand mosque is one of the largest in Ankara and is an impressive example of modern Islamic architecture. Its large dome and four minarets dominate the city skyline.
  • Ankara Castle: The Ankara Castle is a medieval castle that sits atop a hill overlooking the city. The castle dates back to the Roman era but has been extensively renovated over the years.
  • Atakule Tower: The Atakule Tower is a tall tower that offers stunning views of Ankara. Visitors can take an elevator to the top and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
  • Museum of Anatolian Civilizations: This museum houses a vast collection of artifacts from ancient Anatolian civilizations, including the Hittites, Phrygians, and Urartians. The exhibits include pottery, jewelry, and sculptures from thousands of years ago.
  • Column of Julian: The Column of Julian is a Roman victory column that was erected in the 4th century AD to commemorate the victory of Emperor Julian over the Sassanid Empire.
  • Ethnography Museum of Ankara: This museum showcases the cultural heritage of Turkey through exhibits on traditional clothing, crafts, and household items.

Parks and Green Spaces

Ankara is home to numerous parks and green spaces. Some of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Ankara are:

  • Genclik Park: This is one of the largest parks in Ankara, covering an area of 1.3 million square meters. It offers a wide range of recreational activities such as jogging, cycling, and picnicking.
  • Kuğulu Park: This park is located in the heart of the city and is famous for its large population of swans. Visitors can take a stroll around the park and enjoy the serene atmosphere.
  • Botanical Garden: This garden is located within the grounds of Ankara University and has a wide range of plant species from Turkey and around the world. It is a great place for nature lovers to spend a few hours.
  • Dikmen Vadisi Park: This park is situated on a hillside and offers spectacular views of the city. It has numerous walking trails and is a popular spot for nature lovers.
  • Kurtuluş Park: This park is situated in the old city center and is a popular spot for locals to relax and enjoy the greenery. It has a small lake and a few walking paths.
  • Atatürk Forest Farm and Zoo: This is a large forest area with a zoo, botanical garden, and recreational facilities. It is a popular spot for families with kids.
  • Altinpark: This park is located on the outskirts of the city and is famous for its vast open spaces, gardens, and outdoor sports facilities.

These parks and green spaces in Ankara are great places to unwind, relax, and enjoy nature.

Shopping Districts

Ankara offers a variety of shopping experiences for locals and tourists alike. Here are some of the most popular shopping districts in Ankara:

  • Kızılay: Kızılay is the heart of Ankara’s shopping scene, with numerous shopping malls, department stores, and boutiques. It is also home to the city’s largest outdoor market, where you can find everything from fresh produce to clothing and souvenirs.
  • Tunali Hilmi: Tunali Hilmi is a trendy district with a mix of international and local brands, as well as independent boutiques and cafes. It is a popular destination for young people and those interested in fashion and design.
  • Armada: Armada is a high-end shopping center with luxury brands such as Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. It also has a cinema, restaurants, and cafes.
  • Ankamall: Ankamall is one of the largest shopping centers in Ankara, with over 250 stores, a food court, and a cinema. It features a mix of local and international brands, as well as a large supermarket.
  • Karum: Karum is a modern shopping center located in the heart of Ankara’s business district. It has a mix of international and local brands, as well as restaurants, cafes, and a cinema.

Food and Drink

Ankara has a diverse culinary scene with influences from Ottoman, Central Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Some of the dishes to try when in Ankara include:

  • Döner kebab: a classic Turkish dish made with lamb or chicken, cooked on a vertical spit and served in pita bread with salad, onions, and various sauces.
  • Lahmacun: a thin, crispy flatbread topped with minced meat, vegetables, and herbs.
  • Mantı: a Turkish version of dumplings filled with minced meat, usually served with yogurt and tomato sauce.
  • Pide: a type of Turkish pizza, often topped with cheese, meat, or vegetables.
  • Baklava: a sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.

As for drinks, traditional Turkish tea and coffee are must-tries. Turkish tea is a black tea served in small, tulip-shaped glasses, while Turkish coffee is a strong, thick, and sweet coffee served in small cups. Ayran, a salty yogurt drink, is also a popular beverage in Turkey.


Ankara is a city with a well-developed transportation system that includes buses, taxis, and a metro system. The metro system is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to travel around the city, as it covers many areas and has connections to other modes of transportation. Buses are also a good option for getting around, with numerous routes and stops. Taxis are readily available but can be more expensive than other forms of transportation. Walking and cycling are also popular options, especially for shorter distances or for exploring the city’s many parks and pedestrian areas.

City Safety

Ankara is generally a safe city, but like any other city, it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, can occur in busy areas and public transportation. It is also important to be cautious while driving, as traffic can be congested and chaotic in some areas. Overall, visitors to Ankara should exercise common sense and be aware of their surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Expensive or Cheap

Compared to other cities in Turkey, Ankara is generally considered to be an affordable city. While prices may vary depending on where you go and what you do, in general, the cost of living in Ankara is lower than other major cities in Turkey such as Istanbul. That being said, prices for certain goods and services may still be relatively high for those on a tight budget. It’s important to research prices and budget accordingly before visiting Ankara or any other city.

Date Ideas

Ankara offers plenty of romantic spots to visit and activities to do for couples. Here are some of the best date ideas in Ankara:

  • Take a stroll in Genclik Park: This park is one of the most popular green spaces in the city, and it’s a great place to take a walk with your partner, have a picnic, or enjoy a boat ride on the lake.
  • Visit the Ankara Citadel: This historic fortress is perched on a hill and offers a stunning view of the city. Take a romantic walk around the fortress walls and enjoy the beautiful architecture.
  • Explore the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations: This fascinating museum houses ancient artifacts from the Hittite, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires, among others. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon learning about the city’s rich history.
  • Take a hot air balloon ride: For a truly unforgettable experience, take a hot air balloon ride over the Cappadocia region just outside of Ankara. This is a unique way to see the stunning landscape and make some unforgettable memories.
  • Enjoy a traditional Turkish bath: A Turkish bath, or hamam, is a unique cultural experience that can be enjoyed by couples. Relax and unwind in the hot steam and soothing atmosphere, and leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
  • Have a romantic dinner: Ankara offers a variety of restaurants serving delicious Turkish cuisine, as well as international fare. Head to one of the city’s rooftop restaurants for a stunning view of the city while you dine.

Overall, Ankara offers plenty of romantic and unique date ideas for couples to enjoy together.

Fun and Interesting Facts

Ankara has a rich history and cultural heritage that has shaped its unique character. Here are some fun and interesting facts about Ankara:

  • Ankara was known as Ancyra in ancient times and has been the capital of various empires throughout history, including the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires.
  • The city is home to many historic landmarks, including the Ankara Castle, which dates back to the Roman era, and the Anitkabir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
  • Ankara is known for its distinctive cuisine, which includes dishes like kebabs, stuffed grape leaves, and baklava. Ankara’s local specialty is a spicy meatball dish called “çiğ köfte.”
  • Ankara is also home to many museums and cultural institutions, including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which showcases artifacts from the Hittite, Phrygian, and Roman eras.
  • Ankara is a major university town, with several universities and academic institutions located in the city.

In conclusion, Ankara is a city that combines rich history, cultural heritage, and modern developments. Its historic landmarks, unique cuisine, and vibrant academic scene make it a fascinating destination to explore.