Highlights of Turkey | Ankara

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Highlights of Turkey | Ankara

Ankara, formerly Angora, the capital of the Turkish republic, is located a little to the west of central Anatolia about 350 kilometres southeast of Istanbul. It is the centre of Turkish Government and houses all foreign embassies. It has done so since replacing Istanbul as the capital of Turkey in October 1923.

Ankara, Turkey at night
Ankara, Turkey at night

History of Ankara

The city has been inhabited by ancient civilisations since the Stone Age. Before it was captured by the Ottomans in the 14th century, Ankara was ruled by several empires. Located in a region at the meeting point of the Asian and European continents, it came with many names. According to Joshua J. Mark (2018), the earliest written reference to the region came from the Akkadian Dynasty tablets, dating back to circa 2334 BC where it was referred to as “The Land of the Hatti”, inhabited by the Hittites. The Hittites, in turn, called the land “Assuwa” or “Aswiya”, the probable origin of the Roman term “Asia.” The Greeks called it Anatolia, “place of the rising sun”, as it lies to the east of Greece.

When the Hittite Empire fell, Anatolia was controlled by the Persian Achaemenid Empire. Alexander the Great sailed across the Aegean Sea into Anatolia and captured Ankara in 333 BC. His untimely death, however, splintered his empire. The Roman Empire began to rise in prominence, and in 25 BC, Ankara fell under the control of Emperor Augustus.

When the western arm of the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, the Eastern, Byzantine arm remained, ruling over much of Anatolia from the imperial seat of Constantinople. Anatolia, ruled by a Christian empire, would be subjected to various raids from Islamic powers beginning in the 7th century. The Seljuks would eventually bring an end to Byzantine rule over the region. It was the Seljuks who called themselves “sultans”, an Arabic title signifying power, and adopted the language of their Persian instructors, making Persian the lingua franca of the empire. In 1354, Ankara was captured by Orhan, the second sultan of the Ottoman dynasty. Constantinople would later be captured by the Ottomans, and renamed Istanbul.

The Ottoman Empire lasted until the 20th century. Ankara became the centre of the resistance movement against the sultan. In 1923, Ankara was declared the capital of Turkey, now a republic.

Must-Visit Places in Ankara

Ankara is a city of culture and houses the award winning Museum of Ancient Civilisations, as well as the National Library, the state theatre, and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra. The museum has an extensive Hittite collection.

Another significant monument is the Mausoleum of Ataturk, built as a memorial to the founder of the Republic of Turkey, and the Ankara Castle (Kalesi), a former military stronghold that offers a great view of the city.

Ataturk's Mausoleum in Ankara, Turkey
Ataturk’s Mausoleum in Ankara, Turkey
Ankara Castle, Ankara, Turkey
Ankara Castle, Ankara, Turkey

Kocatepe Mosque, built between 1967 and 1987, is the largest mosque in Ankara and one of the largest in the world, a landmark that can be seen from almost anywhere in central Ankara.

Kocatepe Mosque
Kocatepe Mosque

Many universities add a dynamic young population to the second largest city of the country. Like Istanbul, the city has a balance of old and modern sights, allowing visitors to experience the archaeological traces of Roman, Byzantine, Seljuq, and Ottoman rule, while enjoying the modern conveniences of this cosmopolitan city dotted with shopping malls.

Articles about Turkey published by Odyssey Traveller.

For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.

External articles to assist you on your visit to Turkey.

Related Tours

Ancient Turkey
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Ancient Turkey escorted small group history tour

As a travel company we seek to keep guests off the beaten path. Trips that are remembered for authentic experiences. Our small group journeys in Turkey are fully escorted by an experienced local guide and an Odyssey guide to give this type of  experience whether at one of the many UNESCO World heritage sites explored or local bazaars. It is always about the adventure and memories that we will create.

22 days
Departing Sep, Apr, May