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The city of Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great

ankara night

The city of Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850 meters above sea level. It is the center of the province of the same name, which is a predominantly fertile wheat steppe-land with forested areas in its northeast region and agricultural lands in its south. Ankara has a continental climate; summers are hot and dry, winters are cold and snowy. It is bordered by the provinces of Cankiri and Bolu to the north, Eskisehir to the west, Konya and Aksaray to the south, and Kirikkale and Kirsehir to the east. The city is well connected to the other parts of the country by highways and railroads, there is also a big international airport.

The region's history dates back to the Bronze Age; Hatti Civilization, which was succeeded in the 2nd millennium BC by the Hittites, then the Phrygians (10th century BC); Lydians and Persians followed. After these came the Galatians, a Celtic race who were the first to make Ankara their capital (3rd century BC). It was then known as Ancyra, meaning anchor. The town subsequently fell to the Romans, Byzantines, and Seljuks under ruler Alparslan in 1073, and then to the Ottomans under sultan Yildirim Beyazit in 1402, who remained in control until the First World War.

The town, once an important trading center on the caravan route to the east, had declined in importance by the 19th century. It became an important center again when Kemal Ataturk chose it as the base from which to direct the War of Liberation. In consequence of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared as the capital of the new Turkish Republic on 13th of October, 1923.

Ankara is generally a formal city because of the parliament and heads of the state residing here. But there are many interesting museums and sites to visit in Ankara, a skiing center nearby, and a fine nightlife.

For City Tours in & around Ankara and Cappadocia, please Click Here.

Anatolian Civilizations Museum

anadolu medeniyetleri muzesi 48Close to the Citadel gate, a 15th century Ottoman bedesten has been beautifully restored and since 1921 it houses a marvelous and unique collection including Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Lydian, Urartian and Roman works. In 1997, this great museum won the "European Museum of the Year" award among 65 museums from 21 European countries. (Open daily between 08:30-17:30 except Mondays. During the summer, the museum is open everyday).

Ethnographical Museum

Etnoğrafya müzesiOpposite the Opera House on Talat Pasa Boulevard in Namazgah district is the Ethnographical Museum. There is a fine collection of folkloric artifacts as well as fine items and rugs from Seljuk and Ottoman mosques in this museum since 1930. When Ataturk died in 1938, he was buried at the internal courtyard until the construction of his Mausoleum in 1953. The bronze statue of Ataturk on the horse in front of the museum was made in 1927 by an Italian artist P. Canonica. (Open daily between 08:30-17:00, except Mondays).

Ankara Citadel

ankara ankara kalesi 4 picThe foundations of the citadel were laid by the Galatians on a prominent lava outcrop, and completed by the Romans; Then the Byzantines and Seljuks made restorations and additions. The area around and inside the citadel is the oldest part of Ankara and many fine examples of traditional architecture can be seen within its walls. Some of these old wooden houses are rennovated and used as small restaurants with the views of the city. There are also lovely green areas in which to relax.

Temple of Augustus

The Corinthian style temple can be found in the old Ulus district of Ankara. It was built in the 1st century BC and only later dedicated to the Roman Emperor Augustus at the beginning of the 1st century AD. It is important today for the 'Monument Ancyranum' or 'Res gestae Divi Augusti', the testament and political achievements of Augustus that is inscribed on its walls in both Latin and Greek. This inscription is the copy of the original which was engraved on two bronze pillars and placed at the entrance of his Mausoleum in Rome. The originals are lost but the copy engraved on the Augusteum in Ankara still exists. In the 5th century the temple was converted into a Christian church.

Roman Bath

The bath, situated on Cankiri Avenue in Ulus, has the typical features of Roman baths: a frigidarium (cold section), tepidarium (cool section) and caldarium (hot section). The hot and warm rooms were wider divisions because of Ankara's very cold winter climate. They were built in the time of the Emperor Caracalla (3rd century AD) in honor of the god of medicine, Asclepios. The dimensions of the bath was 80x130 meters and it was made of stones and bricks. Today, only the basement and first floors remain.

Column of Julian

This column, located in Ulus district, was erected in 362 AD probably to commemorate a visit by the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate on his way to the campaign against Persians. It stands 15 meters high and has a typical leaf decoration on the capital.

Haci Bayram Mosque

hacı bayram camiiThis mosque, located in Ulus district next to the Temple of Augustus, was built in the early 15th century and subsequently restored by Sinan in the 16th century with Kutahya tiles being added in the 18th century. The mosque was built in honor of Haci Bayram Veli, a sufi poet lived between 14th-15th centuries, whose tomb is next to the mosque.

Rahmi Koc Industrial Museum

This is Turkey's second industrial museum opened in April 2005 by Koc family in a 500 year old building. Cengelhan was originally built in the mid-16th century by Rustem Pasha, husband of Mihrimah Sultan and son-in-law of Suleyman The Magnificent. This was a typical Anatolian caravanserai offering lodging for travelers and also supplies for the tradesman. This building opposite the Citadel is now converted into a museum preserving its architectural characteristics in a new setting. Here, the story of early industry is told through scale models since most of the full-size objects are on exhibit at the Rahmi Koc museum in Istanbul.

You can also enjoy its Brasserie in the museum courtyard, sitting together with classic cars from 1900's.

Hacettepe University Arts Museum

The Arts Museum was opened by Hacettepe University on October 2005. It's originally the continuation of Paintings and Sculpture museum founded in 1970's, and then rennovated by the university itself. There are several halls where you can see over 250 works of many Turkish painters and artists from the early ages of the Republic until our times. The museum is located in Sihhiye district of Ankara, inside the university's cultural center. It can be visited between 10:00 - 17:00 during week days (closed on Saturday - Sunday).

Artifacts of Pious Foundations (Vakif) Museum

The building was built by the General Directorate of Pious Foundations in 1928 as the first Law School of Turkey. After 1941, the school was used as a Girls' school, as a dormitory, and as a supper room until 2004. Then it was restored and opened as a museum of Vakiflar (Pious Foundations) Directorate in May 2007.

The museum is located on Ataturk Boulevard in Ulus district and houses many artifacts collected by the Vakiflar Directorate showing Turkey's near past in a wonderful display. In many exhibition halls of the museum one can see great Turkish carpets from 15th and 16th centuries, historic candle holders and Korans, old watches, woodworks from 13th century, traditional tiles, and many other etnographic objects. The museum will compete in 2009 to win the Best Museum Award of Europe. There is also a cafeteria for the visitors and some facilities for the disabled.

Other museums

Some other museums in or near Ankara are: Air Museum in Etimesgut district (open daily between 09:00-16:30 except Mondays & Tuesdays), Meteorological Museum (open daily between 10:00-16:00 except weekends), Railway Museum in central train station (open daily between 08:30-17:00 except Sundays & Mondays), Pink Pavillion at the President's residence in Cankaya district (open only during some of the National holidays between 10:00-17:00), Stamps Museum at Turkish Telecom in Aydinlikevler district (open daily between 08:30-17:00 except during official holidays), Ulker Zaim Museum (open during weekdays between 09:30-17:00), Gavurkale rock friezes and Kulhoyuk Hittite burial grounds in Haymana town (60 km south-west of Ankara).

Hotels in Ankara

Ankara is a good starting point for your travel in Central Anatolia and to areas such as Cappadocia, Konya, and Hattusas.

There are several good hotels in Ankara province, located in the city center or near the airport. Some of the five star hotels are international chains and some are local hotels. You can also choose four star hotels during your stay for the budget, or try a special category hotel which are usually small hotels decorated in the traditional way. There are also many youth hostels around the country.

Below you can find a list of selected quality hotels in Ankara. You can also check suggested restaurants of the city in our web site.

Restaurants in Ankara

There are many good restaurants in Ankara where you can try Turkish cuisine and local drinks. Usually the food in Turkey is quite cheap, but there are fine and expensive restaurants as well. Below is a list of some of the selected restaurants in Ankara.

See also

Ankara excursions

Ankara excursions

Half Day Tour of Ankara City

(Daily departures except Mondays - on private basis only)

Depart around 10:00 AM to visit the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in the old Citadel, one of the best museums in Turkey, housing an extensive display of ancient settlers in Asia Minor starting from the Stone Age and especially dating back to Neolithic and Bronze Ages such as Catalhohuk and Bogazkoy settlements. Later, you'll visit also the Mausoleum of Ataturk where the founder of the Turkish Republic rests in peace. Return back to the hotel.

Full Day Tour to Hattusas

(Daily departures except Mondays - on private basis only)

Depart in the morning (2,5 hours driving) and a full day visit of the capital of Hittites; Hattusas, including the Lion Gate, the Tunnel, Kings Gate and Great Citadel. Lunch during the visits on site. After the lunch visit to the sanctuary of Yazilikaya and return to Ankara in the afternoon. (L)

Two-Day Cappadocia Tour

(Daily departures - on private basis only)

Day 1: Ankara / Cappadocia

Depart in the morning from Ankara. Lunch en-route. The first visit will be the Agzikarahan caravanserai (unfortunately closed for restaurations in 2009-2010 !!), an ancient motel for caravans built in 13th century by the Seljuk Turks on the Silk Road. Then drive to Kaymakli (or Derinkuyu) underground city carved like a maze by early Christians in the 7th century escaping from persecutions, in which a visitor can descend several floors levels. You'll also see the Uchisar valley where there is a natural Citadel and the rock houses. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia. (L-D)

Day 2: Cappadocia / Ankara

After breakfast, a full day dedicated to the visits of the region. The Goreme Valley famous for its rock churches decorated with incredible Byzantine frescoes, earthen pyramids, and stone dwellings. The last visit will be to the Pasabag Valley reminding a lunar surface with its panorama and typical formations of Fairy Chimneys, a great opportunity for picturing these unusual formations. Lunch during visits and return to Ankara late in the afternoon. (B-L)

Three-Day Tour of Ankara and Cappadocia

(Daily departures on private basis or Departures on Sundays in group tour)

Day 1: Ankara / Cappadocia

Depart in the morning from the hotel to visit the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in the old Citadel, one of the best museums in Turkey where archeological pieces dating as far back as the Prehistoric Age are exhibited. Visit also the Mausoleum of Ataturk where the founder of Turkish Republic rests in peace. Lunch and depart for Cappadocia. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia. (L-D)

Day 2: Cappadocia

After breakfast departure from the hotel to visit the underground city of Kaymakli built in the 7th century by Christians escaping from persecutions. Visit also the Uchisar valley with rock houses and natural citadel. Lunch during the visits and continue with the Goreme Open Air Museum; the rock churches decorated with Byzantine frescoes. Visit Cavusin Village, Pasabag Valley with its typical and unusual formations of Fairy Chimneys, and finally the Avanos Village famous for its pottery and handicrafts. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia. (B-L-D)

Day 3: Cappadocia / Ankara

After breakfast, depart from the hotel to visit Urgup and Ortahisar valleys and The Agzikarahan Caravanserai (unfortunately closed for restaurations in 2009-2010 !!) built in the 13th century by Seljuk Turks for the caravans traveling on the ancient Silk Road. Lunch en-route to Ankara. Transfer to the hotel. (B-L)

(B) Breakfast - (L) Lunch - (D) Dinner

Ankara, the Capital City

Ankara, the heart of the National War of Independence, has been planned in a modern manner and developed in a short period of time. In the research made related to the history of Ankara, the remains of the Hittites and Phrygians were encountered in the surroundings of Ankara, however, no settlement place was revealed inside the city. Ankara, with its known history, was first founded by the Celts. In the third century B.C., the Celts, who came from Europe via the Balkans and the Straits up to Central Anatolia, founded the Galatian State, with Ankara as their first known capital city. The city later experienced the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Periods.


The most interesting structure in Ankara is the Anitkabir (Mausoleum), constructed for Ataturk. The construction of the monument, on Rasattepe, started in 1944 and finished in 1953. In the same year, Ataturk was moved from his tem- porary grave at the Ethnographic Museum with great cere- mony to Anitkabir, his eternal place of rest.

The Ankara Citadel, rising on top of a hill which dominates Ankara, was first constructed by the Celts in the third century B.C. The walls of the Citadel, which are composed of two sections, the inner citadel and the outer citadel, are made of Ankara stone. The citadel which was restored during various periods, acquired its present day appearance from the Seljuks. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, that is one of the richest museums in Turkey, is located next to the citadel. Artifacts from the various civilizations in Anatolia, starting from the Stone Age (50,000 B.C., Middle Paleolithic Period), and periods until the Roman Period (second century A.D.) are displayed at the museum.

The Temple of Augustus, in the Ulus District, was constructed in the second century A.D. The written inventory of all the deeds accomplished by the Roman Emperor Augustus on the walls of this temple, is an important historical document. The baths, theater and Column of Julian are among the other remains of the Roman Period.


Among the mosques in Ankara, the Aslanhane Mosque, constructed in the thirteenth century, is famous for its turquoise tiled mihrab (niche), the Haci Bayram Mosque, built in the fifteenth century, is decorated with Kutahya glazed tiles and the Kocatepe Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Ankara, constructed between 1967 and 1987, are worth seeing. The city is also famous for its monuments. The most conspicuous of these monuments are the Republic Monument in the Ulus District, the Victory Monument in the Yenisehir District and the Hatti Monument at the Sihhiye Square. The Hatti Monument symbolizes the Hattis, the first known native society of Anatolia who lived between 3000 and 2000 B.C.

Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, is also the capital of culture and art. Winter nights in Ankara are very lively with the theater, opera, ballet, modern dance, classical and pop music performances. International art, music, film and children's festivals enliven the city. The Cikrikcilar Street and the Bakircilar (Coppersmiths) Market are old and charming shopping areas where various copper and brass souvenirs are sold. Among the modern shopping centers in the city are the Kizilay District, Tunali Hilmi Avenue, Atakule Mall at Cankaya, Karum Mall at Kavaklidere, Ankuva Mall at Bilkent and Galleria Mall at Cayyolu. A panoramic view of Ankara can be seen from Atakule, a tower 125 meters high, which has a revolving restaurant, a cafe and an observation terrace.


Newly Added :

The Rahmi M. Koc Museum, Rahmi M. Koç Müzesi, is an industrial museum opposite the entrance to the Citadel in the historic heart of Ankara, close to Anatolian Civilization Museum. Located in the historic Çengelhan - a former Caravanserai, built in 1522 - the Museum displays huge variety of exhibits on such diverse themes as Engineering, Road Transport, Scientific Instruments, Maritime, Medicine, and many others. The beautiful and atmospheric courtyard has been glazed in, and now houses the newly restored shop where the founder of the Koç Group, Mr Vehbi Koç started his working life. And when you have finished your museum visit, you can relax in either the Divan Café or the sophisticated Divan Brasserie in the courtyard.

Tours in/from Ankara