Ankara – Day 3

flags of turkey
Ankara has many museums, historic buildings and a rich history and culture.

So today we head off to Kizilay again and we get the taxi to drop us off at Gençlik Park, a very popular park in the summer with it’s own Lunar Park full of amusements, an outdoor theatre and an artificial lake. There is also the Municipality Theatre nearby as well as the sports stadium and main Railway station.

As I have mentioned before, the weather has been mostly cloudy for the duration of our stay so you are seeing Ankara at it’s worst rather than it’s best but we can’t do much about that so today we will be taking a look at some of the museums in the city.

The Grand Assembly Building, The Turkish Parliament. This important building is where all the main decisions were taken regarding Turkey’s international & domestic activities and it played an important role in Turkish political history from 1924 to 1960. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s principals and reforms would have come to life here.  The building is beautifully maintained and the main assembly hall with it’s beautiful ornate ceiling is quite spectacular.

There are a number of rooms all accessed via a central corridor with displays of government equipment, furniture and personal items of which some of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s are included. If you are going to be visiting a lot of museum’s in Ankara than you can buy the card at several locations in the city. Just a little further up the road is the original Grand Assembly Building. It is older but similar in that it has a central corridor with rooms on either side. One of those rooms is of course the main assembly hall with their old fashioned desks and heating stoves.  Although this building was altered several times it was just not large enough to accommodate the needs of the growing assembly of the Turkish Republic which is why the Turkish Grand National Assembly II next door was built and opened in 1924.

Melike Hatun Mosque is a new mosque in Ankara. It was recently opened to service on 27 September 2017. It has a capacity for 7000 people. Our next stop is the Ethnography Museum. This houses a collection of objects and displays relating to the cultures of the Turkic tribes. The building was designed by Arif Hikmet Koyunoglu between 1925 and 1928. Before the Anitkabir was specially built, and during the construction period, the museum housed the sarcophagus of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk from 1938 to 1953. The museum details the funeral event and there is a statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on his horse outside the main entrance. This is a small museum with displays illustrating the clothing that people would have worn along with artifacts and furniture depicting Anatolian life. The elevated position of the museum lends itself to some spectacular views of the Ankara city landscape. The large building alongside the museum is the Paintings & Sculpture Museum.

All the museums that we visit in this Ankara series of 4 videos only show a short clip of what is inside. To show much more would just spoil the experience for you. All of these museums are worthy of a visit when you are in Ankara. Our next museum is Atatürk’s Museum Mansionin Çankaya, within the grounds of what was once the old palace. But first we leave our taxi at Atakule, a 125m or 410 foot high communications and observation tower which is one of Ankara’s most well known landmarks. Built between 1987 & 1989 by architect Ragip Buluc, the top section was designed as an open terrace and revolving restaurant. The tower is currently closed to visitors for renovation but the large shopping centre adjacent to the tower, the Atrium, was the first modern shopping centre in Ankara. The layout and open plan of this shopping centre with its carefully placed seating and terrace balconies with spectacular views of the city below is very pleasing to the eye and probably one of the nicest of all of the malls in Ankara.

As we walk towards the palace entrance for the Atatürk Museum Mansion we can see the British Embassy in Sehit Ersan Cadessi. The only reason I include it here is because I used to work there and it brings back fond memories. The embassy is located in its own extensive grounds with an administration building, ambassadors residence, a school, swimming pool and its very own pub. This area of Cankaya is home to several diplomatic missions and Embassies. In the old days there was terrible smog in Ankara so all the diplomatic staff insisted on being housed in Cankaya and Gaziosmanpasa because it was much higher up and it escaped most of the pollution.

There are some great views of the snow capped hills in the background.
So we finally arrive at Atatürk’s Museum Mansion. You are advised to book your visit in advance or at the very least check opening times as this is not open all the time to the general public. The mansion is within a government centre, the old palace so security is tight and no movie camera’s are allowed. Filming inside the building is also prohibited. You are taken by vehicle to the house. This really is worth visiting because everything inside the house is as it would have been in Atatürk’s time. The furniture and the standard of the workmanship inside the house is exceptional. It is like walking into a time warp. We also visited Atatürk’s house in Atatürk Orman Çifliği or Ataturks Forest Farm this afternoon but it is nowhere near as elaborate and comfortable as this one. It was snowing while we were here.

We walk down Sehit Ersan Street to see the Pembe Köşk ( or Pink Palace ) which is an Ottoman-era house in the Çankaya district of Ankara and which is the city’s oldest villa. It was the home of Turkish President İsmet İnönü from 1925 to 1973. Unfortunately it was closed for renovation so we will just have to come back another time. We take another taxi and head out to Atatürk Orman Çifliği to visit Atatürk’s house. On the way we pass by the Presidential Complex where we were not allowed to film so there is a Wikipedia photo of it here. The area around the Atatürk Orman Çifliği used to be forested, hence the name, but there doesn’t appear to be much of a forest left here any more. The house is set within a garden and trees. This is an exact copy of the house that Atatürk was brought up in when he was in Thessaloniki in Greece. The rooms that you see inside give a good indication as to the way houses were furnished in those days. As we walk through the Forest Farm we see that there are now restaurants, nurseries and business where once there was just forest. A sign of the times. I am told this place still gets popular in the summer.

 So, as if we havn’t seen enough for one day we decide to head out to the Armada Shopping Centre which is one of the premiere shopping centres in Ankara. There are two sections, Armada 1 and Armada 2 which are interlinked by a bridge with some beautiful night views of the streetlife below. There are over 125 stores in this arcade which was beautifully decked out in New Year decorations. The surrounding streets are lively, bright and vibrant with shoppers and people heading for the restaurants and cafes.

Well, that was a long day. We hope you enjoyed watching. Tomorrow we will head for the Castle and the surrounding area around Ulus. 

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