Ankara (Turkey)


In the photo, Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, is located on the highest hill in Ankara. The construction of this monumental structure designed by architects Emin Onat and Orhan Ard started in 1944 and lasted 9 years. In 1953 the remains of the president revered by Turks were brought here.

The Capital of Turkey

The capital of Turkey consists of two parts separated by a railroad. In the north is Old Ankara, or Ulus, which retains the charm of a medieval Muslim city: the Citadel, fortified by a double wall, narrow streets, bazaars and old mosques. South Ankara, or Jenisehir, is a new city, mostly built in the second half of the XX century. wide streets, monumental government buildings, fashionable neighborhoods.

Today Ankara is considered one of the most “Europeanized” cities in Asia.

Turks are justifiably proud of their young capital, which transformation was carried out largely thanks to Kemal Ataturk – “the father of all Turks.
Having proclaimed Turkey a republic in 1923, Mustafa Kemal made Ankara its capital.

We can count the history of the city from that moment, but Ankara is one of the oldest capitals in the world. It is older than London, Madrid, Paris and even Istanbul.


When Constantine the Great started to build a new capital of the Roman Empire in a small provincial town of Byzantium in the year 324, today’s Istanbul, Ankara was already an important administrative center for the northern part of Turkey.

As early as the Bronze Age the Hatti civilization flourished in the area of modern Ankara; in the 2nd millennium BC the Hittite kingdom; later the city was ruled by the Phrygians, Lydians and Persians; and in 333 BC Alexander the Great entered it.

In 278 BC the city became the center of a state created by the Celtic tribe of Galatians. By this time it was called Ankira, which means “anchor” in Greek. The Pontic Greeks, who controlled trade on the Black Sea, contributed to the development of the city at the crossroads of overland trade routes from north to south (between the ports of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean) and from west to east.

In 25 AD Galatia was conquered by Augustus and became a Roman province centered at Ancyra, whose commercial importance continued to grow. Traces of the Roman presence at that time can still be seen in the remains of the baths and the theater, the Temple of Augustus and the Column of Julian the Apostate. It is estimated that about 200,000 people lived in Anchor at that time, which is much more than in later times after the fall of the Roman Empire and until the beginning of the 20th century. From the 1st century A.D. onwards, through the efforts of the Apostle Paul, Christianity began to spread here. In the second half of the 3rd century the city had to survive the invasions of the Goths and Arabs. For a few years it became the western outpost of the Kingdom of Palmyra of the famous Zenobia, but was returned to Rome. At the beginning of the 4th century the emperor Diocletian began his persecution of the Christians. The first to suffer from it was the Christian preacher George of Cappadocia, later recognized as a holy martyr. But his followers and disciples remained, including Diocletian’s wife Alexandra, who was baptized by George. In the fourth century, Ankara became the center of Christianity in Asia Minor.

When Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Ankara was given the role of a well-fortified imperial resort, distinguished by its dry mountain air. In 1071, the mighty walls of the Ankara fortress and the Byzantine power in the region fell to the Seljuks, during whose rule the city became known as Angora, and became famous for the wool trade of famous Angora goats.

At the beginning of the 15th century the city was conquered by the troops of Tamerlane, and in 1413 became part of the Ottoman Empire. Ankara’s importance began to decline in the 19th century. The city lost its role as a trade and crafts center and actually turned into a backwater. This backwater at the end of 1919 became the headquarters of the leader of the Turkish national liberation movement Ataturk, and in 1923 it was the capital of the Turkish Republic proclaimed by him.

After Ankara became the capital of the Turkish Republic in October 1923, it experienced phenomenal growth. When the government settled in Ankara there were only 35,000 inhabitants, by 1950 there were almost three hundred thousand and now over four million.

Mustafa Kemal was able to appreciate the strategic position of Ankara. He followed a policy of modernization throughout the country and made sure the capital had a modern face and invited European specialists to design and build it. This is how a new city with ambitious architecture appeared south of the old Ankara, gradually growing with large factories and plants, banks, trading and insurance companies.

Ataturk died in 1938, was buried in the Ethnographic Museum in Ankara, and a few years later the Turkish government held an international competition to design a monumental mausoleum for the “father of all Turks. About fifty designs were submitted. In 1953 the sarcophagus with the body of Ataturk was moved to the mausoleum built in the southern part of Ankara, in the quarter of Maltepe, and in 1960 Anitkabir was opened to visitors, millions of whom pay tribute to the national hero every year. Of course, every new member of the government visits the mausoleum before taking office, besides which Ankara has many other attractions dedicated to Ataturk: a museum with the personal belongings and library of the president, as well as his cars standing in the square next to it. In the old part of the city, where Ataturk Boulevard leads from the new one, there is an equestrian statue of Ataturk in the main square Ulus, and nearby, in the old school building, where until 1925 the seat of parliament was located, is the Museum of the War of Independence.

The historic part of Ankara is centered around the Hisar Citadel. By the stones of its double walls one can study the ancient history of the city. Each new master of the city who took over these walls rebuilt and renovated them at the expense of the remains of other ruined buildings. Scholars believe that the inner walls of the fortress could have been built by the Hittites, and the outer walls by the Byzantines in the IX century.

One of the symbols of the city is Hadji Bayram Mosque built in XV century in honor of the patron saint of Ankara, Hadji Bayram Veli and decorated with tiles and the finest carvings. The mosque is adjoined by the ruins of the Temple of Augustus, which dates back to 25-20 B.C. On its wall is a memorial plaque, on which is carved a list of the acts of Roman Emperor Augustus.

The striking juxtaposition of Hittite, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman culture and architecture with the Europeanized modernity, monumental and mundane, is the face of Ankara, which defines the face of modern Turkey.

General Information

  • Ankara has been the capital of Turkey since 1923.
  • Language: Turkish.
  • Religion: Islam.
  • International Airport: Esenboga (30 km north of city).
  • Area: 2,516 km2.
  • Population: 4,097,051 (December 2009).
  • Population density: 1,628.4 people/km2.
  • Average altitude: 850 m.


  • Industry: motor industry, car-repair, electrotechnical, food, pharmaceutical, light, textile, engineering industry, manufacture of metal goods.
  • Services sector: the second largest financial center of Turkey.
  • Tourism.
  • Agriculture in the region: Muscat grapes, honey, pears, and Angora goat breeding.

Climate and weather

  • The climate is mountainous with fairly cold and snowy winters and hot, dry summers.
  • The average temperature is -3°C in January and +20°C in July.
  • There are great temperature variations during the day.


  • Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Remains of Roman Thermae
  • Temple of Augustine
  • Julian’s Column
  • Haji Bayram Mosque
  • Aladdin Mosque
  • Hisar Fortress
  • Ataturk Mausoleum
  • Ulus Square
  • Atakule Tower

Fun Facts

  • Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is one of the richest museums in the world, on par with the Louvre or the British Museum. It has a unique collection of Hittite art and everyday objects. It was founded in 1921 and in 1997 it was awarded the title of the European Museum of the Year.
  • According to one of the versions, Ankira was founded in the VII century B.C. by the Phrygian King Midas, the prototype of the mythological Midas, who had a fatal gift to turn into gold everything he touched. However, archaeological excavations confirm that the city on this site existed for many centuries before that.
  • Ankara is the birthplace of the famous Angora cats, rabbits and goats. Half-long-haired cats were brought from Ankira (Angora) to Europe back in the 16th century, and since the 17th century Turkish Angora was recognized as an independent breed. Since 1917 the Ankara zoo has started a program of breeding and conservation of completely white mismatched cats (one eye is yellow, one is blue) which are treated as a national treasure. Angora cats are very intelligent, inquisitive and sociable. Angora rabbits are one of the oldest varieties of domestic rabbits, characterized by the same pleasant character and long fluffy fur. It is the rabbits that produce the famous Angora wool, but the wool of the no less famous Angora goats is used to produce mohair.
  • Atakule TV Tower is the main landmark and a popular observation point in the city. It is 125 meters high. At the top there is a terrace, a revolving restaurant and a cafe. The tower’s name is also reminiscent of Ataturk: ata means ancestor, kule means tower.
  • The busiest and most colorful street of Old Ankara is Salman Street with many craft workshops and stores selling copper products. It is not by chance that the street is also called “copper alley”.
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