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Exploring the World-famous Turkish Capital - Ankara

Turkey’s capital, Ankara, dates back to the Bronze Ages  and has been home to many different empires: the Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, Persian Empire, and Byzantine Empire have all left their mark on Ankara’s varied landscape. Like Istanbul, it was a capital of a Turkish state.

Today the Old Town area (Ulus) and New Town area (Yenisehir) give the city an interesting mix of architecture, ancient tradition and modern developments to explore. Narrow, winding cobbled streets with stalls and markets contrast with wide open walkways, high rise buildings and shopping malls. Sightseeing by foot gives you a chance to see the best of both worlds.

A brief history of Ankara

Ankara is said to have been founded by King Midas (Remember the king that turned everything he touched into gold?). Persia later took over the Anatolian Peninsula, including Ionia and Ankara. Rome then took Ankara, and it became part of the Eastern Roman Empire, which would be renamed as the Byzantine Empire.

A Walking Tour of Ulus

Ulus is the historic heart of the city and gives you a real feel for the history of the city through the ages. This area is built on steep hills and the narrow streets zigzag and wind up to Ankara Castle, part of the citadel and the highest point of the city. It’s thought the castle was built by the Romans and it’s worth a walk up here just for the views alone.

Nearby you’ll find the Anatolian Civilizations Museum and plenty of street cafes and restaurants. You can also take a walk down to the old fashioned shopping area of Cikrikcilar Yokusu and here you can visit Weavers Road and shop for finely woven fabrics, jewellery, leather goods and antiques. Staying in Ankara  city centre means you can drop off your bags and continue on foot to the New Town. Other sights include the Roman Baths and the Ataturk Mausoleum, the memorial to Turkey’s founder.

Downtown to the New Town

Kizilay Square is the heart of the modern town which was developed after Ankara became the capital city of Turkey in 1923 and here you’ll find theatres, modern shopping centres and high rise buildings. Taking a walk around the wide open streets you’ll get a real feeling for the contrast between the old and new parts of the city.
If you plan your route via the 125 metre high Atakule Tower  you can visit the observation platform for stunning views over the city and enjoy a delicious meal at the top floor, rotating restaurant. This modern structure rises into the Ankara skyline and is a focal point of modern architecture and development.

Parks in Ankara

If you’re looking to take a more leisurely stroll there are plenty of beautiful parks and green spaces too, whever you are staying in Ankara. Genclik Park  is in the city centre and has a large lake with rowing boats, the Luna Park funfair park and a selection of cafes and tea houses. Further afield is the Ankara Botanic Gardens and if you’re an avid bird watcher Swan Park is famous for the resident black and white swans.

Ankara is often regarded as two separate cities, the old historic city and the rapidly developing, newer city. Will you be exploring the city streets of Turkey’s capital this year?

C. F. Nayarlotep can often be found working outside at a pavement cafe, even in cold weather.

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