Many people make the mistake of thinking that Istanbul is the capital city of Turkey, when, in actual fact, that title and honour goes to Ankara. Although the capital doesn’t attract as many sightseers as other parts of the country, that’s not to say that it is devoid of interesting things experience. You may be surprised to find that there are plenty of great things to do in Ankara.
Ankara is a sprawling and modern city. Rather than using it solely as a transportation hub and stopover point, take some time to discover what makes the city tick. Here are four terrific things to do in Ankara to get you started:
Located on top of a hill in the heart of Ankara, Ankara Citadel is one of the most distinguishable landmarks of the Turkish capital city. Also sometimes referred to as Ankara Castle, the former defensive and protective structure is an impressive site to explore.
Wander around the towering walls that stand at around 14 to 16 metres high. Within the citadel’s walls, you’ll come across narrow maze-like alleys that are teeming with life. Traditional homes are crammed in along the streets and you can see local people who still live pretty much as they would have done in times gone by. You can experience life in a traditional Turkish village, without leaving the heart of the city! Ladies beat rugs in the street and sort balls of wall. The smell of cooking wafts through the air and washing hangs outside the homes. Children run and play.
Temple of Augustus
The great Temple of Augustus and Rome now stands pretty much in ruins, but it is still an imposing and impressive sight. See the Column of Julian, which honours a visit to the city of a mighty Roman emperor, and the ancient remains of Roman baths. This temple is very significant to historians, with several inscriptions that refer to Augustus. Indeed, the inscriptions found at the Temple of Augustus are the best-preserved bilingual texts that details speeches made by the once-powerful leader.
Kocatepe Mosque is the most important mosque in Ankara. It is also the biggest. Built in a classical Ottoman style, the mosque has four soaring minarets. Often said to be one of the cultural wonders of the 20th century, it is a fairly new addition to the city’s religious buildings, having been built just around 20 years ago. A he place of worship, it can accommodate around 24,000 worshippers at any one time. Visible from almost anywhere in Ankara, it is one of the city’s main landmarks, and a popular sight for tourists.
Museum of Anatolian Civilisations
Situated on the south side of Ankara Castle in the city’s area of Atpazari, the award-winning Museum of Anatolian Civilisations consists of the old Ottoman Mahmut Pasa, a storage building for an old bazaar, and the Kursunlu Han. The museum is home to an impressive selection of archaeological remains from Anatolia, which date back as far as the Paleolithic Age. Displays are creative and imaginative, helping to really engage and captivate visitors.
Other great things to do in Ankara include absorbing the cultural and artsy vibe in popular Hamamonu, seeing the historical Haci Bayram Mosque, admiring the views from the top of Atakule Tower, riding in a crowded dolmus, stuffing yourself with tasty local dishes, and learning more at Ankara Ethnography Museum.