Ankara: Turkey’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Do the sun, beaches, and sea come to mind when you think of Turkey? It’s true that this great country is known for its beautiful beaches and warm weather. However, Turkey’s capital offers much more. Ankara entices with gorgeous views and traces of the past. You’ll find everything your heart desires here.
The city is rich in culture and history! So, if you don’t want to go on a typical beach vacation and instead want to travel back in time, visit Ankara. In this article, we’ll present to you the top 10 sights in Ankara. Get ready for a wonderful experience!
Ankara in a Nutshell
Ankara, Turkey’s capital since 1923, is the country’s second-largest city, with a population of 5.7 million people.
Due to the hot summers with little rain and the snowy winters, the climate is rather dry. The warmest months are July and August, while the coldest are January and February. Check out our climate guide to learn more about the best time to travel.
Turkey is quite famous for its delicious cuisine, among other things. If you’re in Ankara, you must try a rich dinner. The meal usually starts with mezze, a colorful platter of appetizers with different sauces, which you can eat with homemade pita bread.
Two typical main courses are işkembe çorbası (tripe soup) and the famous İskender (grilled lamb slices). Desserts consist of baklava, kadayıf and muhallebi. Of course, Turkish coffee is a must-have. These delicacies can be found all across the city, and you definitely have to try them.
There are many ways to get around the Turkish capital – either by car or public transportation, for example. If you choose the latter, you’d be doing something good for the environment. The subway will take you to the most important places in the center of the city. However, buses are the main means of transportation. Although they’re cheap, they also get crowded very quickly. For this reason, for short distances, we recommend taking the metro or simply walking.
There are famous shared cabs, called dolmuş, throughout the country, that are a very cheap alternative. Of course, you can also just take a regular cab. You’ll have no problem getting around the city as there are many options.
For your stay in Ankara, we recommend going to the International Flamenco Ankara Festival (Uluslararası Flamenko Ankara Festivali). It’s a dance festival where special guests perform in concerts, dances, and workshops with the best dancers in the country.
If you’re in Ankara during the summer, we suggest attending one of the many concerts that take place outdoors.
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Ankara
Now that we’ve told you the most important facts and what to expect in the Turkish capital, we’ll now show you our list of Ankara’s top 10 sights and attractions!
Anıtkabir means “Memorial Tomb” and is one of Turkey’s most significant buildings. It’s Mustafa Kemal Atatürk‘s mausoleum. He was the state’s founder and contributed a lot to its history. The monument is located on Rasattepe (Observation Hill) and was built six years after Atatürk’s death, with construction taking place from 1944 to 1953. There’s also a library and the Peace Park on Anıtkabir’s grounds.
Ankara Citadel and Castle
The citadel occupies an almost 1,000 m high hill in the northern part of Ankara’s city center. The castle was built in or around the 7th century to defend the city, but the complex was extended over time. During that period, the Galatians made Ankara their capital, dividing it into an inner and outer city.
The Roman Baths of Ankara
The thermal baths date back to the early third century. They were named after Caracalla, the Roman emperor at the time, and were in use for 500 years until they burned down in the 7th century. They were thought to have disappeared, but were rediscovered at the beginning of the 19th century. The works of Roman antiquity are very impressive and therefore definitely worth a visit.
Kocatepe is Ankara’s largest mosque, and one of the largest in the world, with a capacity of up to 24,000 visitors. The 20-year construction project was finished in 1987, and it was very much influenced by the classical Ottoman style. The four beautiful minarets and the magnificent dome are still an impressive sight.
The marble decoration and the numerous ornaments give it an especially beautiful and unique look. Admission is free and absolutely worth it, but make sure to dress accordingly!
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
History buffs, this museum is for you! It’s one of the capital’s main attractions, and everyone should visit it at least once. The museum is housed in a restored market hall from the 15th century. It not only teaches you everything there is to know about ancient Turkey, but also contains numerous artifacts from excavations all over the country.
Relics from different periods of Anatolian history are also on display – from the Paleolithic Age, the Bronze Age, the Lydian period, etc. There are also Greek and Roman artifacts in a special section of the museum.
The State Art and Sculpture Museum
The museum was built in 1927 on the instructions of Atatürk. It was a community center in 1950 and then transformed into a museum in 1980. Paintings, sculptures, ceramics, prints, statues, and decorations from the Republic’s founding period can be found here.
It’s divided into two sections. In the first section, you’ll find the works of painters and draftsmen such as Hüseyin Zekai Paşa, Şeker Ahmet Paşa and Halil Şerif Paşa. In the second section, there are works of artists from the Republic period, such as İbrahim Çallı and Hikmet Onat.
Old City Hamamönü
Hamamönü is part of the Old City and is one of Ankara’s most beautiful neighborhoods. Here you can see what Ankara used to look like. Since its restoration, many tourists have visited this part of the city. During the renovation, 250 houses were demolished and rebuilt in the Ottoman style.
Hamamönü offers you markets, beautiful mosques, small stores, and many delicious restaurants. In 2011, the district was honored by the European Commission as one of 21 “European Destinations of Excellence.” Take a look around and let Turkish culture work its magic on you.
Gençlik Park, located in the center of Ankara, is the perfect place to go if you want to relax and unwind. You can also take beautiful pictures here. The artificial lake with the fountain in the background is a gorgeous sight.
Of course, you can also satisfy your hunger in one of the cafés or restaurants here. For the more adventurous, there is also an amusement park to let off some steam.
The park is located in the southern part of the city. Here, you’ll find a variety of plants, watering holes, and vineyards, in addition to many trees and flower fields. However, the Japanese cherry blossoms, which bloom every year in spring, are truly special.
You can also treat yourself to a delicious Turkish coffee in one of the cafés while taking in the surrounding nature. Lunapark, a small amusement park on the grounds, is the best place to let off some steam and have fun. There’s an open-air stage as well.
Atakule, built in 1989, is a communication and observation tower in the center of Ankara. The platform is spherical, with a 125-meter-high tower. It’s one of the city’s most famous landmarks. From the platform, you have a unique panoramic view of Ankara, so make sure to take pictures of the fantastic scenery while you’re there.
Turkey’s capital is one of the most beautiful and interesting destinations in the world. Ankara is rich not only in history and culture, but also nature. With their architecture and artifacts, the many fascinating museums and beautiful mosques are a real feast for the eyes. If you want to see Turkey from a different point of view, we think Ankara is the right place for you.
What are you waiting for? Get on the road to Ankara now! And if you haven’t had enough of Turkey yet, how about a trip to Kaş or Pamukkale?