General Information About Ankara
A brief travel information about Ankara, online maps, videos, tourist attractions, museums,
mosques, historical sites, old churches, sightseeing places and more...
Ankara is the capital city of Turkey and the country's second
largest city after Istanbul. The city has a population
(as of 2005) of 4,319,167 (Province 5,153,000), and a
mean elevation of 850 m (2800 ft). It was formerly known
as Angora. The Hittites gave it the name Ankuwash before
1200 BC, the Galatians and Romans called it Ancyra,
and in the classical, Hellenistic, and Byzantine periods
it was known as Ánkyra. Ankara also serves as the
capital of the Province of Ankara.
Probably because it's the capital city of Turkey, Ankara displays a more official life style generally which has also effected the gay life of the city. Although it's the second populated city of Turkey following Istanbul, Ankara does not have such a colorful and visible gay life. Still, there are several gay or gay-friendly venues worth visiting as listed on this page.
Centrally located in Anatolia, Ankara is an important commercial and industrial city. It is the center of the Turkish Government, and houses all foreign embassies. It is an important crossroads of trade, strategically located at the center of Turkey's highway and railway networks, and serves as the marketing center for the surrounding agricultural area. The city was famous for its long-haired Angora goat and its prized wool (mohair), a unique breed of cat (Angora cat), white rabbits and their prized wool (Angora wool), pears, honey, and the region's muscat grapes.
Ankara is situated upon a steep and rocky hill, which rises 150 m above the plain on the left bank of the Enguri Su, a tributary of the Sakarya (Sangarius) river. The city is located at 39°52'30" North, 32°52' East (39.875° N 32.8333° E). Ankara is one of the driest places in Turkey and is surrounded by a barren steppe vegetation, with various Hittite, Phrygian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman archaeological sites. It has a harsh, dry continental climate with cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. Rainfall occurs mostly during the spring and autumn.
The hill which overlooks the city is crowned by the ruins of the old castle, which adds to the picturesqueness of the view, but only a few historic structures surrounding the old citadel have survived to our date. There are, however, many finely preserved remains of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine architecture, the most remarkable being the Temple of Augustus and Rome (20 BC) which is also known as the Monumentum Ancyranum.
Museums in Ankara
Anıtkabir (Mausoleum of Ataturk)
No one is more respected in Turkey as much as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkish Republic. Even his political opponents who are always is charge mainly to destroy his secularity revolution, can not dare to speak against him. Ataturk's mausoleum. Anıtkabir is located on an imposing hill in the Anıttepe quarter of the city, where the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, stands. Completed in 1953, it is an impressive fusion of ancient and modern architectural styles. An adjacent museum houses a wax statue of Atatürk, his writings, letters and personal items, as well as an exhibition of photographs recording important moments in his life and during the establishment of the Republic. Anıtkabir is open every day, while the adjacent museum is open every day except Mondays.
Ankara Ethnography Museum (Etnografya Muzesi): This museum is opposite the Opera House on Talat Paşa Boulevard, in the Ulus district. There is a fine collection of folkloric as well as Seljuk- and Ottoman-era artifacts.
A Hattian artifact, from the 3rd millennium BC, in the Museum of Anatolian CivilizationsMuseum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi): Situated at the entrance of Ankara Castle, it is an old "bedesten" (covered bazaar) that has been beautifully restored and now houses a unique collection of Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, and Roman works as well as a major section dedicated to Lydian treasures.
State Art and Sculpture Museum (Resim-Heykel Müzesi): This museum is close to the Ethnography Museum and houses a rich collection of Turkish art from the late 19th century to the present day. There are also galleries which host guest exhibitions.
Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Museum (Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Müzesi): An industrial museum opposite the entrance to the Citadel, close to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Located in the historic Çengelhan - a former Caravanserai, built in 1522 - the Museum displays a huge variety of exhibits on diverse themes such as Engineering, Road Transport, Scientific Instruments, Maritime and Medicine equipments, and many others. The beautiful and atmospheric courtyard now houses the newly restored shop where the founder of the Koç Group, Mr Vehbi Koç, started his working life. Once you have finished your museum visit, you can relax in either the Divan Café or the sophisticated Divan Brasserie in the courtyard.
War of Independence Museum (Kurtuluş Savaşı Müzesi): This building, located on Ulus Square, was originally the first Parliament building (TBMM) of the Republic of Turkey. The War of Independence was planned and directed here as recorded in various photographs and items presently on exhibition. In another display, wax figures of former presidents of the Republic of Turkey are on exhibit.
TCDD Locomotive Museum: An open-air museum near the railway station on Celal Bayar Boulevard which traces the history of steam locomotion through the locomotives and artifacts on display.
Archeological sites in Ankara
Ankara Citadel (Ankara Kalesi): The foundations of
the citadel were laid by the Galatians on a prominent
lava outcrop, and the rest was completed by the Romans.
The Byzantines and Seljuks further made restorations and
additions. The area around and inside the citadel, being
the oldest part of Ankara, contains many fine examples
of traditional architecture. There are also recreational
areas to relax. Many restored traditional Turkish houses
inside the citadel area have found new life as
restaurants, serving local cuisine, music and of course,
Roman Theater The remains, the stage, and the backstage can be seen outside the castle. Roman statues that were found here are exhibited in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (see above). The seating area is still under excavation.
Temple of Augustus and Rome : The temple, also known as the Monumentum Ancyranum, was built between 25 BC - 20 BC following the conquest of Central Anatolia by the Roman Empire and the formation of the Roman province of Galatia, with Ancyra (modern Ankara) as its administrative capital. After the death of Augustus in 14 AD, a copy of the text of Res Gestae Divi Augusti was inscribed on the interior of the pronaos in Latin, whereas a Greek translation is also present on an exterior wall of the cella. The temple, on the ancient Acropolis of Ancyra, was enlarged by the Romans in the 2nd century. In the 5th century it was converted into a church by the Byzantines. It is located in the Ulus quarter of the city.
Roman Bath: This bath has all the typical features of a classical Roman bath: a frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (cool room) and caldarium (hot room). The bath was built during the reign of Emperor Caracalla in the 3rd century AD to honour Asclepios, the God of Medicine. Today, only the basement and first floors remain. It is situated in the Ulus quarter.
Column of Julian: This column, in Ulus, was erected in 362 to commemorate a visit by the Roman Emperor Julian. It stands fifteen meters high and has a typical leaf decoration on the capital.
Modern monuments in Ankara
Monument to a Secure, Confident Future: This monument, in Güven Park, Bakanlıklar quarter, was erected in 1935 and bears Atatürk's advice to his people: "Turk! Be proud, work hard, and believe in yourself."
Victory Monument (Zafer Anıtı): Erected in 1927 on Zafer Square in the Sıhhiye quarter, it depicts Atatürk in uniform.
Hatti Monument: Built in the 1970s on Sıhhiye Square, this impressive monument symbolizes the Hatti gods and commemorates Anatolia's earliest known civilization.
Kocatepe Camii in central Ankara
Haci Bayram Mosque: This mosque, in the Ulus quarter next to the Temple of Augustus, was built in the early 15th century in Seljuk style by an unknown architect. It was subsequently restored by architect Sinan in the 16th century, with Kütahya tiles being added in the 18th century. The mosque was built in honor of Hacı Bayram Veli, whose tomb is next to the mosque, two years before his death (1427-28). The usable space inside this mosque is 437 square meters on the first floor and 263 square meters on the second floor.
Ankara has many parks and open spaces mainly established in the early years of the Republic and well maintained and expanded thereafter. The most important of these parks are: Gençlik Park (houses an amusement park with a large pond for rowing), the Botanical Garden, Seğmenler Park, Anayasa Park, Kuğulu Park (famous for the swans received as a gift from the Chinese government), Abdi İpekçi Park, Güven Park (see above for the monument), Kurtuluş Park (has an ice-skating rink), Altın Park (also a prominent exposition/fair area), Harikalar Diyarı (claimed to be Biggest Park of Europe inside city borders) and Göksu Park.
Ataturk Farm (Atatürk Orman Çiftliği) is an expansive recreational farming area which houses a zoo, several small agricultural farms, greenhouses, restaurants, a dairy farm and a brewery. It is a pleasant place to spend a day with family, be it for having picnics, hiking, biking or simply enjoying good food and nature. There is also an exact replica of the house where Atatürk was born in 1881, in Thessaloniki, Greece. Visitors to the "Çiftlik" (farm) as it is affectionately called by Ankarans, can sample such famous products of the farm such as old-fashioned beer and ice cream, fresh dairy products and meat rolls/kebaps made on charcoal, at a traditional restaurant (Merkez Lokantası, Central Restaurant), cafés and other establishments scattered around the farm.
Foreign visitors to Ankara usually like to visit the old shops in Cikrikcilar Yokusu (Weavers' Road) near Ulus, where myriad things ranging from traditional fabrics, hand-woven carpets and leather products can be found at bargain prices. Bakırcılar Çarşısı (Bazaar of Coppersmiths) is particularly popular, and many interesting items, not just of copper, can be found here like jewelry, carpets, costumes, antiques and embroidery. Up the hill to the castle gate, there are many shops selling a huge and fresh collection of spices, dried fruits, nuts, and other produce.
Modern shopping areas are mostly found in Kızılay, or on Tunali Hilmi Avenue, including the modern mall of Karum which is located towards the end of the Avenue; and in the Atakule Tower at Çankaya, the quarter with the highest elevation in the city, which commands a magnificent view over the whole city and also has a revolving restaurant at the top where the complete panorama can be enjoyed in a more leisurely fashion.
As Ankara started expanding westward in the 1970s, there are several modern, suburbia-style developments and mini-cities along the western highway, also known as the Eskişehir Road. The Armada Mall on the highway, the Galleria in Ümitköy, and a huge mall in Bilkent Center offer North American and European style shopping opportunities (these places can be reached following the Eskişehir Highway). There is also the newly expanded AnkaMall at the outskirts, on the Istanbul Highway, which houses most of the well-known European brands. This mall is the largest throughout the Ankara region.
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