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Ankara, Turkey’s capital is a destination gaining prominence as Turkey opens its doors to ever increasing numbers of visitors. Statistics show an increase in tourism even in spite of some recent social protest, a sign of the country’s dedication to hospitality and development. Recent statistics also show that while Istanbul is getting more and more visitors, the lodging statistics haven’t gone up in the same ratio, what does that mean? People are visiting Istanbul, but jumping off into many of the country’s other attractive cities of which Ankara is certainly one.
The capital city is a place of great history and natural beauty. Until recent years it was seen more as a business and government town, which it still is, but urban development, renovations of fortresses and museums and old markets are making it a new place to discover.
Ankara is a place that has been at the crossroads of trade, empires and progress for centuries. The central city is a place to encounter modern shopping centers such as in Kizilay, ancient crafts and trades in the bazaar section near Ulus square and many historical monuments and museums.
Moving around town
Here in this city one has a more relaxed feel since it is off the beaten path for major tourism. Here one will find that English is hardly spoken or understood in the street, but that as everywhere people try to help and communicate in whatever way they can. The city is very navigable with the handy 2 line metro and there are literally thousands of buses of all shapes and sizes coming and going. The only problem is one really can’t be sure of an exact location since the buses have their own system of stops and routes. The safest bet is to find a bus headed to a main square and follow your map as you ride along.
The mausoleum to Mustafa Atatürk
This is a stunning work of art and architecture. It is situated in the Antikabir section of the city and offers great views of the surrounding hills and the modern district.
The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
There are many museums in Ankara worth visiting, many deal with one of the various aspects of the long and varied history of this area, but which is highly recommended, especially for fans of ancient history is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. It houses an impressive collection of works from Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian and Roman occupation periods. There is also work being done currently to display artifacts that were found at ancient Troy. There are many other Roman ruins and archeological wonders found around the city, such as roman baths, a temple of Augustus, a column for the emperor Julian and a Roman theater.
Not to be forgotten are the many mosques around the city which range in age from 12th to the 18th centuries. Most famous are the Alaaddin Mosque and the largest, the Kocatepe Mosque a very recent structure that serves as a city landmark.
The ancient citadel
The fortress is set on one of the highest hills and oldest parts of the city. It has massive walls and an ancient interior that has been successively build up over millennia by the rulers of each period. Today it is in a state of gradual renewal, but there is much potential here as the buildings are centuries old with a distinctive Turkish style. The narrow streets are perfect for shops, restaurants and little inns, which are beginning to open here and there. The top of the walls offer a commanding view of the whole city and a great place for photos too. Ankara is a place that is refreshingly eclectic, it holds many treasures and attractions of the past, but its present advances and future possibilities, all in the heart of Turkey are a treasure equally worth seeing.