HOME > PATH Magazine > Europe
Enjoy Ankara, the city “en route”
Enjoy yourself with just $100 in 24 hours.
The overhead compartments in the buses from Istanbul to Cappadocia are always filled with traveller’s backpacks.
The long 450-mile (750 km) road usually takes 10 hours, and can take nearly half a day in winter when the roads are slippery. Once you get off the bus and stretch your body, fatigue wraps itself around your entire body. The moment you arrive at Cappadocia you feel nothing but regret because the promise you made to yourself has disappeared: the promise that you would travel from dawn to dusk.
“I should’ve gotten off at Ankara and looked around…”
Ankara is not just a city “en route”. The history of Ankara, visited by Hittites, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Crusaders and the Ottoman Turks, is enough to fascinate any traveller. Unfortunately, there is a lack of suitable information about Ankara, so travellers looking to use their time carefully mistakenly believe that spending time in Ankara is a luxury. However, if you have only one day and $100, then all you need to do is to tie your shoelaces.
PATH’s recommendation for a 24-hour day in Ankara!
▶ How should you spend your $100?
Breakfast at Kızılay: TRY 5 ($1.70)
Lunch at Ulus: TRY 20 ($7)
Dinner at Tunalı: TRY 40 ($14)
Transportation costs: TRY 40 ($14)
Entrance fees: TRY 10 ($3.50)
Misc.: TRY 30 ($10.50)
Tip. The base rate for taxis is TRY 1.30. TRY 1 = $0.34 (rate as of 27 October 2015) 1TL=500 won (rate as of 2 December 2014)
Most places are within a TRY 5-10 radius. That’s about $2-4. It’s about 2,000-4,500 won.
# Kızılay # morning
Morning in Kızılay is when everything in Ankara with wheels gathers, and then disperses. There’s so many people walking that there’s not even enough space for a pigeon to perch! In the middle of the bustling crowds, some people sit relaxing quietly on one side of the road. Simit street vendors: these are the only place where busy people stop — with the exception of crosswalks. (Simit: a savoury, non-sweet Turkish doughnut made from fried dough and sprinkled with sesame seeds) With a crude look, the man skillfully packs a doughnut with practised ease while at the same time taking another order. It’s very easy to find a cart packed with Simit, the doughnut-shaped bread. If you walk down the road you will hear the mens’ voices getting louder and louder — they’re afraid that they will lose sight of you. If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee or Çay (chai – black tea) with it, try the freshly baked breads of Tattaze or Simit Sarayı.
While I am enjoying my breakfast, the irregular march of the suits is coming to an end. Finishing the last sip of my Çay gives me lighter footsteps throughout the rest of the day. As I’m walking and breathing in fresh air I arrive at Ulus, which is one of the traditional commercial districts of Ankara. Kızılay is more modern, while Ulus has more traditional characteristics. Travellers can’t resist taking photos of the old buildings surrounding the classic square and the vibrant but unorganised shopping street.
Tip. Symbols of Ankara
This is located in the centre of Ankara in Ulus, on a hill that has a view of the entire city. Many Ottoman Turkish style buildings remain, so it’s possible to get a glimpse of the Turkish people’s life in the past. It was built to defend against Arab invasions and resembles castles from the Roman Era. Before you go to Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi, it’s best to visit Alaaddin Cami.
# Ankara Castle [Ankara Kalesi (Hisar)]
Before my admiration diminished for the merchants who diligently open their shops early and shake the dust off their footholds, I am almost at Ankara castle. How can a castle exist at the end of so much dark gray asphalt? Also, how can there be such a mismatch between the castle and other modern buildings? As I realize that my curiosity is filled with question marks, a small cloud of dust rises from my footsteps. Suddenly, I am surrounded by several houses as tall as me. A labyrinthine town creates the illusion that I’ve just walked into the past. As I walk through time and raise my head I come to a place where Ankara castle, secretly hiding its great history, watches me through a chink between the old blocks of houses.
My sight is full of buildings and roads in a murky atmosphere. The roads are filled with cars of many colours and they’re not much different from Korea.
I climb up to the castle as if it’s the border between the sky and the earth, then gaze down at the town. The breeze softly touches my hair, but it feels like it’s hugging me tight.
# Museum of Anatolian Civilizations [Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi]
Ankara’s traditions and the trip to the past doesn’t end at the castle. I walk hastily toward another past era to find the origins of the Iron Age and traces of Hittite civilization, which I’ve only seen on T.V. or in textbooks. Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi stores vast amounts of records. The pathway toward another page of history brings me a subtle thrill.
Even people who have travelled to different continents, nations and many other places have strict likes and dislikes about museums, viewing them as a boring history class or an effort to expand one’s knowledge. But they all agree that museums are the most efficient place to experience the history of civilizations and cities in a short period of time. Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi is small, but museum lovers must visit it to see the different artifacts that it has to offer.
Starting with the Old Stone Age, the Bronze Age, Hittite (Iron), Phrygia, Lydia and Modern Age are exhibited, and the building itself used to be a traditional market and lodging facility that dates back over 100 years. Some of the relics are unfamiliar when I read the names, but I can immediately recognize them when I see the actual relic, since they are often shown on TV or in pictures.
After taking my time visiting the museum, I leave with unexpected impressions.
“Görüşürüz kankardeşim! (I will see you soon, my blood brother)” is what one of the burly guards shouted to me in a bashful manner. I replied with a gentle wave of my hand and then headed down to the Ulus square. The place is crowded with people hiding from their own shadows. Some of them are here for a lunch just like me, and some of them have already had lunch, while the others are here for a moment of freedom.
▶ Mother Goddess, the symbol of the earth’s richness and women’s fertility.
▶ Relics that embodied deer and the sun’s disk were used in ceremonies for gods.
▶An engraving of a powerful chariot that threatened Ramses II during the Iron Age.
A typical building from the Ottoman Age. Built by Mahmut Pasha in 1471. After more than 30 years of restorations, the museum today has been maintained for 40 years.
Handicrafts, sculptures, murals, and bronze statues are exhibited.
Starting from the right entrance, people can move in a counterclockwise direction to see the different art in chronological order.
# Ulus Square [Ulus Meydanı]
General Atatüer and the muscles of his fierce horse, which usually rule over the square, seem softer in the light of sunshine. After taking a couple of photos with the statue in the background, it seems like I’m the centre of attention. In my moment of embarrassment my eyes meet those of a child tightly holding his mother’s hand. The child is just adorable. Walking in big cities such as Ankara and Istanbul gives people impressions of busyness and complexity. But, if you take a close look at each person, they are relaxed. This is unlike Korean people and it amuses me. It seems diverse ethnicities, a complicated history, unexpected weather in the Mediterranean Sea, and calmness in the coastal Black Sea result in magical characteristics.
I let my eyes experience all the luxury this morning, so I took short and quick steps to find a restaurant with food to stimulate my palate. I was simply going to have a kebab for lunch in Turkey, but I considered choosing a restaurant that would make me want to go back again.
There’s anonymous fresh vegetables in a big pile. Underneath them, olive oil extracted from olives from the sunny Mediterranean Sea and pomegranate juice in a vivid red colour are overflowing.
I greet a chef with a fat belly as I pay for my lunch. I see him, busy as ever, cutting a kebab. I feel as if I am enjoying my travels to their fullest. As I leave the store, the price written on the receipt makes me happier because it’s nothing when I think of my full stomach and how happy I am.
Now I am headed for Anıtkabir, which is the core of Ankara’s tourism and the heart of modern Turkish history.
Tip. Ataturk’s tomb, the national property of the Republic of Turkey, is located here. It’s located on the hill overlooking downtown Ankara.
The architectural style is a combination of Hittite and the ancient Anatolian styles.
It consists of 4 buildings including the Entrance Road, Victory Square, the Hall of Honors where the corpse of Ataturk is buried, and a museum exhibiting keepsakes, autographies, beeswax, cars, and gifts from various countries received when he was alive. The coffin of Ataturk is placed in the basement of the Hall of Honours, where visitors can pay their respects to him.
# Ataturk’s tomb [Anıtkabir]
As with any god, you should never joke about Allah. Whatever the joke, this holds true in all Muslim countries. However, in Turkey, there is a historical figure who you can even compare with Allah because of the respect and reverence all Turkish people pay to him. He’s name is “Mustafa Kemal”, also known as “Ataturk” (Atatürk: a name given after he died in order to celebrate his achievements, meaning “Father of Turkey”).
There are a many books and documentaries about him, and his statues and portraits are placed in the best spots in buildings and offices, no matter how big they are. All bills and coins have his face printed on them and important speeches at important national events always include his name. Apart from all these, the places that make you understand how great he was are his tomb and memorial, which are of a magnificent size.
Ataturk was a young officer who put an end to the Greek occupation and eradicated the force of Ottoman Turks which had been infected with insolence and corruption. Later, he designated a small country town called “Ankara” to be the capital of the country and established a republican government. After he became president, he achieved many important feats such as the improvement of women’s rights, the abolition of the Muslim calendar and the revision of Turkish letters in the alphabet.
On Ataturk’s memorial day, all Turkish people pay a silent tribute to him at the same time, no matter where they are. Students, even if they despise studying, are sure to know about his life from beginning to end. We all have great ancestors but do we have any historical figures who are treated like a god as he is? Even though Mustafa Kemal may not very familiar to us, he is known as a great leader throughout Europe. I can feel how proud the royal guards are, who guard the entrance of the memorial.
As I get close to the tomb of Ataturk who my father, grandfather and teacher spoke of, I can almost feel his breath. As we cut across the square our eyes are only focused in one direction. The large and magnificent space is full of marble. For reasons I can’t explain I become solemn as I enter the memorial. Its great size seems like nothing compared to its unfathomable solemnity. I place a chrysanthemum, then leave, and lightly walk down the stairs, trying to see if I can experience those uncanny feelings again.
# 7th Street [Yedinci Cadde]
Now I am entering 7th Street, which is crowded with university students who’ve just finished their classes. I came here to experience a different atmosphere. This street is full of young people and features all different hair colours, big earrings and guitars slung on shoulders. It’s breezy and the sky has become orange-coloured, making people hurry into clothes stores or coffee shops. This weather actually helps tourists to catch their breath and rest.
I find Kahve Dünyası is worth visiting. Here you can find the famous mado ice cream that is very popular in Insadong and Itaewon because of the vendors’ jolly way of selling it. The strong Turkish traditional coffee is also found here. Regardless of your personal taste, it is worth it “for the experience”. What’s strange about this Turkish traditional coffee is that the coffee grounds are used for fortune-telling after you finish drinking the coffee. If you want to experience a sweetness that can make your throat sore, you might as well order Baklava or Lokum. They go perfectly with Çay, the traditional Turkish tea.
# Kocatepe Temple [Kocatepe Cami]
Each city has a temple with characteristics that represent the city. Usually, representativeness like this is given based on its size. As you can see from its name, Kocatepe (Kocatepe: “Koca means magnificent.”), the people who built the buildings had the intention of building them to be large. Thus, the temple was planned as a place where a total of 24,000 people can pray together at the same time both inside the temple and in the square.
Tip. This is the largest mosque of Ankara and it was built in 1986. About 10,000 people can worship together at the same time inside. A traditional temple and a modern shopping mall are mixed together. This is new and it represents the open-mindedness of Islam.
Unlike other temples, you can find commercial features here. On the basement floor, there is a shopping mall complex where you can find places nearby to entertain yourself, such as movie theaters and restaurants. The busy cars and people passing by make you wonder if this place is fit for Ankara’s “representative mosque.” However, when I step into the temple square, the white walls and blue roofs starting from the light gray surface of the floor lead to the sky, making a clear contrast with the places around the temple.
Perhaps the architect, who must have been troubled by the bustling city, was expressing the calm truth that he saw after stepping into a troubled reality and then seeing it in a different light. Just as big fish live in the deep ocean waters, I look at the steeple and it makes me pray. I then open my closed eyes and say goodbye to this short moment of calm.
# Tunalı Street [Tunalı Hilmi]
I leave Kocatepe and wander around here and there, only to end up in Tunalı Street, which is the entrance of a rich Ankara town. The area specialises in amusements, entertainment and shopping. The foreigner population is dense, and it is unusually easy to spot money changers, jewelry stores and watch stores. As I watch German luxury cars drive past this street that has a European feel, I find myself dusting my pants with sudden memories of the sand dust still following me from Ankara Castle. There are considerably less people curiously watching me. Instead, I curiously watch other people. The stores attract passersby and I feel like having a drink as I spot beer through a pub window.
People eat bread and meat and drink coffee, ending their journey which has the name “just another day”. They play songs while taking a break. This time is something that we, the ones who work harder than anybody else, need to ourselves, isn’t it? I start walking again as I dream of a place that has a bed and a goosedown comforter.
Written by Sanggeun Choi firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Inggul Kim email@example.com
How to get there: Get off at Kızılay Station.
2. Ankara Castle [Ankara Kalesi (Hisar)]
Address: Kale Mh., 06240 Ankara
How to get there: Get off at Ulus Station and walk for 10 minutes.
3. Museum of Anatolian Civilizations [Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi]
Address: Necatibey Mh., 06240 Ankara
Telephone +90 312 324 3160
Hours: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm (Closed on Mondays but open everyday during summer)
Admission fee: 10TL
How to get there: Get off at Ulus Station and walk for 5 minutes.
4. Ulus Square [Ulus Meydanı]
Address: Anafartalar Mh. 06050 Ankara
How to get there: Get off at Ulus Station.
5. Ataturk’s Tomb [Anıtkabir]
Address: Maltepe Yüce Tepe Mah., Akdeniz Sok., Anıtkabir Çankaya, Ankara
Telephone +90 312 231 2805
Hours: 2/1 – 5/14: 9 am – 4:30 pm
5/15 -10/3:1 9 am -5 pm
11/1 – 1/31: 9 am – 4 pm
How to get there: Get off at Maltepe Station or Demitepe Station and walk for 5 minutes.
6. Street [Yedinci Cadde]
Address: Aşkaabat Caddesi (7. Cd.) No:64, Yukarı Bahçelievler Mh., Ankara
How to get there: Get off at Beşevler Station and walk for 5 minutes.
7. Kocatepe Temple [Kocatepe Cami]
Address: Kültür Mh. 06420 Ankara, Ankara Province
How to get there: Get off at Kızılay Station. It’s 5 minutes by bus and 15 minutes by foot.
8. Tunalı Street [Tunalı Hilmi]
Address: Barbaros Mh., 06105 Ankara
How to get there: Get off at Kızılay Station and walk for 10 minutes.