Ankara: A History Buff’s Paradise

Although the huge city of Istanbul often steals the headlines, Ankara is finally starting to raise its own head above the parapet and make a name for itself as a first class destination for tourists and seasoned travellers to visit – especially those interested in ancient history and those who love the hustle and bustle of a city with over four million natives.

Ankara, as capital of Turkey, should not be as relatively unknown to many when compared to other Turkish resorts and cities, but once you get to know the city it comes into its own and has many top attractions that appeal to people who really appreciate true history.

Temple of Augustus

Anyone who is fascinated by Roman history must include a trip to the Temple of Augustus which contains the well preserved copy of Emperor Augustus’ last will and testament. The temple has stood in Ankara since the second century AD and is a popular attraction all year round. Even if you do not know too much about Augustus or Roman history, you’ll be able to appreciate the temple as an important piece of architecture at the very least.

Ethnographic Museum

There is no better place to get a sense of what Turkey and in particular Ankara is about than at the Ethnographic Museum. Upon your arrival you will be greeted by a bronze statue of Ataturk, who founded the modern Turkish Republic, astride a horse guarding the museum. Completed in 1928, the museum actually held the body of Ataturk up until 1953 before he was moved to Anıtkabir.

Arslanhani Camii

Ankara like the rest of Turkey is proud of its Islamic traditions and as a result it pays to take a trip to Arslanhani Camii, the city’s oldest mosque, having been constructed in 1289. Byzantine and Roman masonry are on show throughout the many buildings which make up the mosque which until the construction of the Kocatepe Camii mosque was the biggest in the whole of Turkey. If you are not too familiar with Islamic traditions or history, this is a great place to visit as it will open up your eyes to a culture and religion totally different to anything you would have seen before.

Even if you have not heard too much about Ankara, it is a city well worth investing a little time in and researching just what it can offer. If you love your history and enjoy exploring ancient sights full of tales, you could do a lot worse than booking cheap Turkey holidays to Ankara!

Written by Ricky Durrance from Beat the Brochure. 

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10 thoughts on “Ankara: A History Buff’s Paradise

  1. Great recommendations! Maybe I’ll have to add Ankara to my travel list in Turkey after all! =) This month’s trip will be a weekend in Safranbolu. Can’t wait!

  2. Definitely, there is a lot more to see in Ankara than this three.

    The name of the mosque is “Arslanhane”, I found a good picture in this website: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/62742899 It shows its location on a map as well, in case anybody feels like visiting it. And some other very good pictures of the mosque’s amazing inner decoration are to be found here: http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/aslanhane

    Unfortunately, Ankara’s history and cultural heritage is unknown even for many of the inhabitants of this ancient city. Also, due to the construction of several governmental buildings in the area nowadays known as Ulus many (not to say most) of the ancient Phrygian/Roman/Byzantine ruins were completely destroyed.

    Although there’s not much literature on the city available in English, I can recommend two fantastic books. One of them is “Roman Ankyra” published by Yapı Kredi Yayınları, a collection of articles on the history of Ankara during the Roman period and available for 20-25 TL in Turkey (it can be found in D&R and also in the very same YKY bookstore located in front of the new Kızılay Alışveriş Merkezi). The other book, “Men of Modest Substance”, written entirely by Suraiya Farooghi and beautifully illustrated with pictures and maps, is an in-depth study of the city’s population, architecture and daily life during the 17th century. It might be available in English in a bookstore located in Bestekar Cd. named Homer, which holds an amazing collection of books dealing with history in general, and Turkey’s history in particular. This volume has also been translated into Turkish under the title of “Orta halli Osmanlılar”, and can be found in almost any bookstore.

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