Ankara offers visitors a taste of Asian Turkey rooted in the delights of old Asia Minor and the struggle for Turkish Independence; international tourists often neglect this wonderful city, yet there is a wealth of ancient Roman architectural sites, some of the best museums and parks in the world as well as beautiful scenery and a bustling cosmopolitan atmosphere. If you have seen Istanbul, then there is no excuse not to visit the nations modern capital, which is sure to surprise and excite even the most demanding of visitors.
The Ethnography Museum in Ankara is situated on a former Muslim burial ground in Namazgah, contains over 1,200 significant pieces reflecting Turkey’s rich past from the days when the nationalists fought for the country’s independence. In 1938, the museums inner courtyard was turned into a temporary burial place for Gazi Mustafa Kemal founder of the modern Turkish state, more commonly known as Ataturk, although the body was moved to the Anıtkabir in 1953. The area still remains a sanctuary dedicated to his memory and there is a marble plaque to commemorate this and a bronze statue of him riding his horse at the front of the museum. The building itself is worth seeing with its domed ceiling and stone walls decorated with marble, and ornate. One of the most spectacular sights here is the beautiful marbled pool in the centre of the courtyard. This in not simply a run of the mill ethnographic exhibition; it has been visited by foreign dignitaries from around the world and lists many Presidents, ambassadors, and foreign delegates in its visitor’s book.
The State Art and Sculpture Museum is home to a magnificent permanent exhibition of important Turkish masterpieces dating from the late 19th century to the present. The museum also displays mobile exhibitions and holds courses for enthusiasts in painting, sculpture and ceramics. The Museum of Anatolian Civilisation was voted the first ever Museum of the Year back in 1997. It lies near to Ankara Castle and is one of the richest museums on the planet. Many of the buildings making up the complex, are of Ottoman origin but house Anatolian archaeological finds dating back. To the Paleolithic Age right up to the time of Ottoman supremacy. The coins on display here are some of the oldest and rarest in the world and date back to the first minted money. There is also a host of gold and silver jewellery and these two sectors make up the richest of the museums exhibits
The War of Independence Museum on Ulus Square, is housed in what was once the first Parliament building and the site where the Turkish war of independence was strategically planned and directed. It houses many old photos and other relics of the time including wax works of Turkey’s former Presidents. The city is home to various transport museums including the Locomotive Museum, an open-air museum located near the station and the Turkish Air Force Aviation Museum
There are so many architecturally significant buildings form a variety of historic eras that it is difficult to select those of greatest note. The Galatians and later the Romans constructed the Citadel in Ankara, located on a renowned volcanic overhang. Other dynasties stamped their mark onto it giving it its incredible architecture that can be seen today. It used to house the population of Ankara within its city walls, however today restaurant owners who serve some delightful authentic Turkish dishes now occupy the traditional Turkish houses, which once housed the wealthier members of society. The Roman Theatre is visible from the citadel, but it is worth a visit in its own right. The stage and backstage area are still in tact and the seating area still undergoing excavation, but the cache of Roman statues found here is now displayed in the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. Temple of Augustus and Rome in the Ulus quarter was constructed on the Roman capture of Central Anatolia around 25 BC. It underwent some renovation again by the Romans and in the 5th century it was designated as a church. The old Roman Bath also in the Ulus quarter, was built during the reign of Emperor Caracalla to honour the god of medicine, Asclepios, still preserves the basement and first floors, where once the cold room known as the frigidarium, the cool room called the tepidarium and the hot room or caldarium were located. The Column of Julian is often dubbed the Queen of Sheba Column despite the fact that it was built in honour of the Roman Emperor Julian who visited the city in 362 AD.
No Turkish city would be complete without a splendid selection of mosques and in this respect Anakara is no exception to the rule. Many have some exceptional features, which make each one uniquely individual. The 12th century Alaaddin Mosque has an ornately carved walnut pulpit with an inscription recording its construction, the late 14th century Ahi Elvan Mosque near the citadel also contains a carved walnut pulpit, whereas the 15th century Hacı Bayram Mosque next to the Temple of Augustus is decorated with some impressive 18th century tiles from the city of Kutahya, and the largest Ottoman mosque in the city, the 16th century Yeni Mosque, which is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture, built from red stone contains a white marble pulpit and prayer corner. The Kocatepe Mosque is the largest mosque in Ankara and although it has been constructed according to classic Ottoman design principles, it was actually built between 1967 and 1987.
You will not long for open green spaces in which you can relax and recuperate from the many cultural sites in this city. Ankara has a wealth of well maintained many parks and open spaces each with something different to offer. Gençlik Park is great for families with its amusement park and boating lake, Kuğulu Park is renowned for its elegant swans, which were donated by the Chinese government, the Botanical Garden is as it name suggests the home of some spectacular floral exhibits, Kurtuluş Park is excellent for those with energy to expend having its own ice-skating rink, Altınpark is home to many exhibitions on its prominent fairground, and Harikalar Diyarı Park is simply the largest city park in Europe. Ataturk Forest Farm and Zoo is another place to head with the kids. As it name implies, it houses a large recreational farm and zoo as well as a brewery for Dad and plenty of greenhouses and restaurants for Mum. The whole family should not miss the replica of Attaturks Greek home.
There is so much to see and do in Ankara, you'll never be bored.