Things To Do In Ankara
Ankara is the capital city of Turkey that stands at the crossroads of two different continents of the world – Europe and Asia. Ankara is filled with many historic museums, old hamams (bath houses), mansions and ancient ruins, great mosques, huge castles, military forts and installations, a vibrant and busy nightlife. One of the best starting points of any visit to the city is to enter the Ataturk Mausoleum. It is a must for anyone who wants to know the history of Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, first president and founder of the leaders' and some of his comrades in arms lies buried in this sacred resting place. From its park, you can admire a 360 degree panorama of the mountainous landscape and the entire city of Ankara.
Today, the city is dotted with numerous modern architectures and latest establishments, but the charm and mystique of the old city still remains and can be felt the more you walk along its Byzantine and Ottoman influenced government structures and old cathedrals. The city literally breathes its antiquity and swift changes of scenery from ancient to the upbeat paired with a busy traffic any time of the day.
About half of the population lives in the large communities of Ankara. Some work in coal and chromium mines, others in factories producing iron, steel, machinery and processed foods. People working in traditional cottage industries make carpets and pottery. Tourism is growing fast, particularly along the Mediterranean coastline where many vacation resorts are being built.
When To Go:
For those who love outdoor adventures during the sunny weather and prefer to swim along its beaches, the perfect time to spend a holiday is in the middle of May and October, when costs will likewise be also at its highest. The peak of summer occurs in the months of July and August and the humid temperature is a valid reason to avoid going around the city because of heat stroke and cases of exhaustion from extreme heat. Avoid the summer season if you can. The spring month of April is an ideal time to stroll and see the wild flowers in full bloom. Small inns or pension houses may close in October and not return to business until April the so-called start of the peak season. Check the availability of the accommodation before heading out to explore the city of Ankara, Turkey.
Ankara is the second crowded city in Turkey where you can discover many things to do and attractions to see. Here are the best places you must not miss when in Ankara City.
Ataturk Mausoleum (Anitkabir)
The Ataturk Museum or the Anitkabir is a journey through the story of a man who has become immortal for his foresight and his vision of the world open to knowledge and change. It is a great architecture for an immense figure, the father of all Turks - Ataturk. The complex opens with a long driveway with crouching lions, using the Hittite design. Then you can proceed to a large square with staircase, surrounded by pavilions that keep pictures, documents, and personal items of the statesman. Do not miss the beautiful changing of the guard ceremony. It is executed with so much precision, formal and awesome. Guards of the monument settle uniforms and decorations for the next military guard on duty. The place is frequented by young people.
More than a monument it is also a museum that allows everyone to trace the story of the birth of modern Turkey and the importance of Ataturk in their history. In front of his headstone you can see some people praying and everyone observing silence and a solemn moment inside the room and an air of respect. The museum is well kept and full of history and informative materials relating to the 20th century. It is nice and explores many topics, among them the rights of women. The entrance to the museum created in honor of Ataturk is totally free.
Cengelhan Rahmi M. Koc Museum
The Cengelhan Rahmi M. Koc Museum is an interesting tour to combine with a walk in the neighborhood of the citadel in Ankara. The museum houses a very well presented and the various amazing collections of a wealthy patron, tycoon, of the Turkish economy. The museum is located opposite the small market and in front of the door of the entrance to the old castle. There are plenty of miniature vintage train, vintage aircraft, but also former Camera, record player, and camcorder (old style electronic gadgets). There is a model boat upstairs, and at the ground floor and exposed to heat are lots of old car engines. Another interesting part; there is a brewery in the middle of the museum. The basement home exhibitions are regularly updated with objects of curiosity making a visit to this museum a nice and pleasant experience.
The objects are very well presented, the building of the museum is logical, and provide a good mix between simply watching and wander around as you learn something. Each little room in this wonderful old building with its beautiful brasserie in the center has at least one exhibition object that fascinates one. Sometimes you will have the impression that it was a little crowded in some places, but the more you get curious of a real "collection and cabinet of curiosities" from the formative years of the museum. Particularly impressive is the Nacherstellung an old shopping street; including how the old store by the father of the deceased owner has become a museum (his wax figure is found also in one of the last rooms upstairs). A small art exhibition can be found also in the basement. Go there, take two or three hours and just enjoy!
Anatolian Civilizations Museum (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Muzesi)
The open part of the Anatolian Civilizations Museum (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Muzesi) museum is very interesting because it shows the complete history of the Anatolian Civilizations. It also features the greatest and most of the archaeological finds from ancient to modern times. You can admire genuine craftsmanship and stone carving. After a reconstruction, unfortunately half of the museum is still currently not available. Most guests also find the entry costs almost a bit too high for only half of its exhibitions.
The present AM Museum closes at a small garden where you can see an old clay container. The tour can be combined with a visit to the adjacent attraction; the Castle of Ankara (the museum is located on the way to the castle). Overall, it is a great museum that is housed in an old structure, but "finished" in a modern and excellent environment both internally and externally. Unfortunately, the museum is closed but is at least an hour to devote to the museum and follow the history of this country.
If you want to try an off the beaten path adventures in Ankara and you have a half day to spend, do a detour to Hattusas (Hattusha). The tour takes place in the car along the paved road (modern) that runs through the site with several stops to explore the ruins on foot and signs. Visit particularly the various ports of the city walls, the mysterious tunnel (entrance or fortification) And the remains of the great temple with Green Stone - a curious cube of nephrite jade that some people believe became the object of worship of the Hittites.
It is a very interesting site and very large. Not much remains at a distance of three thousand years, but that just makes it worth knowing the power of the brave Turkish people who stood up to the forces of Egypt. Do not miss it because it stops at the most salient parts of Ankara.
A visit to this city is not complete if you have not visited the capital of the Hittites in Turkey that is humbly located in the wide area of rolling hills, huge fenced by walls and with bastions that look really great. To make the tour of the walls you need a car because they are long (almost 12 km). In this site you can see the 'big temple' and other smaller temples dedicated to the god of storms and the sun goddess. Not far away is the Great Fortress, which was used as the main palace of the XIV BC. Hattusha is located 200 km east of Ankara, and can be reached in just over 3 hours. It is valued not so much for its buildings that are now only ruins, but for its walls and amazing topography.
Kocatepe Mosque/The Great White Mosque (Kocatepe Camii)
If you view it from afar, the Great White Mosque or the Kocatepe Camii in Ankara looks majestic with its minarets that seem to rise into the heavens. The locals say it is a replica of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul but it looks astonishing and noticeable because of its all white color. It is the largest of all the mosques around Turkey because it can accommodate 66,000 people. At night, you can still visit this mosque and admire it from the outside as the minarets and the entire structure evokes a more dramatic appeal as it gets illuminated.
Upon entrance, your attention will be focused on two things; the volume of space (the air seems thick) and the great central lamp that uses a sphere of light and glass. As in all the mosques, the shoes must be left outside, and the area of prayer for women is secluded behind the lattice. The interior decoration and stained glass windows and the geometric motifs create a space large unit. Do not miss the interior arches that hold the domes, it looks stunning and you will feel a different kind of energy that the place manifests to every guest who enter this grand mosque. There is no entrance fee and modest clothing is required.
Haci Bayram Mosque (Haci Bayram Camii)
In the old city center called Ulus, there is a brand new renovated old quarter in which the Haci Bayram Mosque is located. The whole district is secured and neatly restored. Plus, it is nice to see that the old Anatolian culture is obtained despite the growing demand for more modern buildings and high rise structures. The area and the mosque are a favorite attraction for the locals and the tourists.
The mosque is an important point for the Muslim believers. The mosque and its grounds are very solemn, especially when the weather is good. Friday is the prayer time and when the gates are closed, non-Muslim tourists are not allowed to enter. If you go to Ankara, it is highly recommended.
Hamamonu Restored Area
The Hamamonu Restored Area is a renovated old town district and recognized as a pearl in the center of Ankara. The atmosphere is very pleasant and you will be tempted to stroll and browse even further. Before long, you forget completely that you are right in the mega-city. The gardens are well maintained and tastefully decorated.
Every now and then there are beautiful sculptures and a relaxed atmosphere complete with wooden benches where you can read a book or enjoy your sandwich or just simply observe the people going to and fro. There are many small shops that offer souvenirs, restaurants from snacks to dinner and water pipes (hubba –bubba or hookahs). Currently, there are a few surrounding houses that are being renovated, so that one can only hope that the district continues to grow and progress as a quarter with a lot of flair and style.
The CerModern is located in the district called the Sıhhiye Downtown Ankara. It is a converted roundhouse and the same restoration is exceptionally applied to make it function as a modern museum of this city. You can park in front of the building. The constantly changing art exhibition of European art in the ancient hall is a clever and unusual way of presenting art for Ankara.
A shop where you can buy souvenirs is affiliated with the items displayed inside the art gallery. The cafe, located in the front part of the building is of very good quality. If you are craving for a bit of art, navigate the exhibition and head for a coffee after your tour. A visit to the Cermodern is truly worth it!
Ankara Ethnographic Museum
Turkey is very rich in history and museums as well as historical monuments and natural places. If you have time left while exploring the city, consider the collection of this extremely interesting museum. The Ankara Ethnographic Museum is well worth a visit if you need to know more about the late Ataturk (this was his first resting place before his mausoleum was built). Visit this museum early to appreciate and discover the captivating Turkish heritage.
It can be visited in less than an hour, gives a nice overview of the artistic flavor and finesse of Turkish civilization. Inside you can see hand woven rugs, carpets, metal work, brass, jewelry, ceramics and porcelain. It also teaches some important Turkish rituals and habits. It is highly recommended for families with school-age children.
The Ankara Castle is the best place to see the city from above. Recommended at sunset, you will enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view of the entire city. From the top it is nice to see the old city that surrounds it, full of small shops and characteristic views of Ankara. At the foot of the castle there is a shopping complex where you can buy anything you need while enjoying a pleasant walk.
There are shops where they sell vegetables, spices, handicrafts, artifacts, copper pewter silver, and even a handicraft furnished fabrics. You can climb up to the tallest tower where the Turkish flag is set and from there take good pictures with the idyllic city as your background.
Aqua Vega Aquarium
Once inside the Aqua Vega Aquarium your eyes run around with as much as all around the wildlife animals that surrounds you. Sometimes there is a feeling that you are becoming prey to the flowing near sharks, which eerily looks at you, instilling fear, and interacting with your movements inside the water tunnel.
Bring the kids and explore the huge aquarium as well as take picture inside their marine life museum. It is a good place to bond with the family on weekends and a great way for kids to learn about marine animals and their behaviors. Entrance fee is a bit high but it is all worth it.
The Genclik Park is a small recreational hub for families and romantic couples. It is surrounded by nice green, lined with old trees, fragrant flower beds, and the bridge that crosses the largest artificial lake in the center of the park. For couples, a romantic stroll along the banks of the pond is an ideal activity while some prefer relaxing and lounging on the various wooden tables scattered throughout the park, enjoying the cool atmosphere, sipping a drink, and eating a sweet treat.
You also have lots of dining options because the bank adjacent to the amusement park (there is also a park with Ferris wheels and rides of all kinds) is full of cafes where for a few Liras you can always have a good serving of freshly made Kebab or a Falafel Shawarma. At night the fountain gets illuminated with its changing colors. Sometimes there are street performers who give instant shows like a live musical concert from the Turkish Music Groups. This park is a good stop in the capital and a nice way to end an evening in the city of Ankara.
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