Ankara – Day 1

We decided to visit Ankara in late December because our son was coming to Turkey to visit us. Having lived in Ankara some 30 years ago it was going to be an interesting experience. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next 5 days did not look good with rain, snow, and cloudy skies all set to descend upon Ankara. Obviously no city looks it’s best in dull cloudy weather but this is Ankara in the winter.

For those that still think Istanbul is the capital of Turkey then I will just mention the fact that it is Ankara that is the capital city and seat of Administration for the government of Turkey. Both a city and a province, the city is 850m or 2789 feet above sea level. It has a history that goes back to the stone age.

Although Ankara is the capital its is not the largest city in Turkey. Istanbul wins on that count. Ankara gets it’s name from the word Angora, the wool which comes from the Angora rabbit, cat and also goat. Originally it was spelled differently too as Ancyra.

Whilst not exactly a tourist destination as such, the city of Ankara is definitely a city to visit if you are spending any time in Turkey. With its large and impressive old and new buildings, modern new shopping centres and wide avenues, some beautiful parks and plenty of historic buildings and museums you will need to spend a few days here too appreciate it fully. Also, of course, this film doesn’t do it justice due to the weather. Ankara is best visited in early or late summer.

Ankara is a very busy city. Even though the roads and infrastructure is very advanced our flight from Canakkale to Ankara took us 1 hour but to get from the airport to the city centre, some 50km away took us 3 hours. Try and avoid peak traffic times. When visiting Ankara there is a very good bus service from the airport to the main Ankara bus terminal or AŞTİ as it is called in Turkish. The bus service is called the Havaş Shuttle and only costs around £1.50 sterling or a couple of US dollars.

The one thing you notice about Ankara straight away is that it is busy. If it’s not traffic it is people. There are crowds everywhere even in the pouring rain. The city of Ankara stacks up against any capital city in Europe. It offers you everything that you would expect of a busy and vibrant capital city. The city has a rich culture and art scene with a host of exhibitions and galleries. Every April and May the city hosts the International Arts & Music Festival.

Ankara has its own metro system and excellent connections to the rest of Turkey and overseas destinations. As the capital of Turkey it is home to many Embassies and Diplomatic Missions. There are a number of well known international hotels and some excellent Turkish ones.

Ankara has many fine restaurants, coffee houses, bars and nightclubs. There is something for everyone.

The Temple of Augustus and Rome was built after the conquest of Central Anatolia by the Roman Empire. Ancyra then became the capital of the province of Galatia. The ruins of the temple are alongside the Haci Bayram Mosque which was built in 1428 in honour of Haci Bayram-Veli, a Turkish poet, a Sufi, and the founder of the Bayrami Sufi order whose tomb is next to the mosque. The original architect of the mosque is unknown but it was restored by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan in the 16th century.

This old city of Ankara has seen the Hittites, Phrygians, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Celtic dynasty’s all come and go before finally becoming the home of the Ottomans and the nation of Turkey.

We now pass the column of Julian or Julianus which was erected in the honour of the Roman emperor Julian after his visit to Ancyra in 362 AD.

Incindentally he died in Iraq in 363 AD and is buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Istanbul.


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