We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

afternoon walkabout: sites in old Ankara

Which Ankara hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Ankara, Turkey
Destination Expert
for Ankara
posts: 1,808
reviews: 3
afternoon walkabout: sites in old Ankara

Our department (in Middle East Tech. U.) decided that university graduates should have some cultural education as well. So they decided to send busloads of students to various touristic sites of Ankara. Of course I volunteered for two of the trips, specifically the ones to the places I haven't been for 20 years.

In today's trip I led about 60 students to the minor sites (not the must-sees) of Ankara. We did everything described below in 3 hours. We all bought the Museum card, which gives free entrance to all museums of Turkey for a year.

We started with the Ethnographic Museum. (Ankara's museums divide Turkey history into three: pre-Turkish era, displayed in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations; Seljuk and Ottoman era, displayed in Ethnographic Museum; and early 20th century, displayed in the Mausoleum of Ataturk). Ethnographic Museum has displays not in chronological order, but categorized according to crafts (one room for calligraphy, one for woodwork, etc.) The entry hall was the temporary tomb of Ataturk for 15 years until the Mausoleum was built, the walls here have pictures from the funeral procession. My recommendation for the rest of this small museum is that you start your tour by entering the room immediately to your right upon entrance. That way you'll go from less impressive to more impressive. The order will then be something like clothes-household items-ceramics-weapons-calligraphy-woodwork.

Adjacent to Ethnographic is the Art Museum, but that wasn't in our list, so we skipped it. (Art museums are not my thing anyway)

Then we got on our pair of buses and headed to the Roman Baths. It is about a mile away, so best way for small tourist groups to get there is by a quick (and cheap) taxi ride. Roman Baths have not only the bath foundations/remnants of heating system/swimming pool/water channels, but also sarcophagi and gravestones. This 2nd century site is quite large to be found in the center of the city (so kind of surprising), but of course it is not comparable to the sites near the Aegean Sea.

From there we walked about 500m to Haji Bayram Mosque/Tomb and Temple of Augustus. This walk was through small streets, and you'll need GoogleEarth-level detail for it. This part of the city is poorer and at times pick-pockety, so keep your belongings close. Anyway, so I led the students, looking at my printout from GoogleEarth, and after a couple of turns the scarlet minaret of the mosque was in sight. Unfortunately the Temple was closed, and there was a funeral at the mosque (into which I presumed 60 chatty sophomores would be unwelcome). The temple actually predates Romans, it was temple of some Phrygian god until Romans came. In early 15th century Haji Bayram, a muslim equivalent of a saint, was buried next to it and a mosque was built around the tomb.

From here on, we walked consistently due south-west, and stopped approximately every 200 meters. First stop was the pillar of Julianus. This stack of thin round stone bricks was built in the 4th (or 5th?) century, with a statue of the Roman emperor. It was 60-80m away from its current location, but was moved in the 20s to make way for the customs building (the building across the pool in front of the pillar).

Next is Ulus Square, with Victory Monument portraying a mounted statue of Ataturk surrounded by three statues: two soldiers and one ammunition carrying woman (during the war thousands of women hauled ammunition on foot for several hundred kms from Black Sea coast to Ankara). But our destination here was the first parliament (now called Independence War Museum). It was the seat of government from 1920 to 25. I was moved by the poor and rundown look of everything here, it is a reminder of all the hardships and poverty through which this country was born - literally from its ashes.

From there we continued to the second parliament (now called Republic Museum). This one was used from 1925 to 1960. Except the assembly room, belongings of first three presidents and various parliament members are on display. Across the building is Ankara Palas, which was closed for renovations. As the first hotel of Ankara, it hosted many visiting presidents and diplomats through the first half of 20th century.

---------

I'll continue this thread next week, when I take them to a tour of Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and the Citadel.

Ankara, Turkey
Destination Expert
for Ankara
posts: 1,808
reviews: 3
1. Re: afternoon walkabout: sites in old Ankara

Today we went to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. It is a 550 year old Ottoman building that used to act as the covered bazaar for the small town of Ankara back then. If you know where to look (right under the south walls of the citadel), its domes are distinguishable from the distance as well.

It is in a garden full of large but unimportant archeological findings (mostly Roman gravestones, statue pedestals, partial statues, altars, milestones, oversized pottery, etc.). The entrance kiosk is at the gate of the garden, so you can wander freely in and out between the building and the garden.

Inside there are three chambers. The outer chamber (walkway? corridor?) starts from the entrance, and goes along the entire perimeter of the building. You enter leftwards, and artifacts spanning millennia are neatly displayed in chronological order, and with little tags indicating their archaeological site of origin. It starts with cave paintings (somehow transported to the museum with the accompanying section of the cave wall) and other items that were the part of the daily lives of the cavemen from Turkey. It continues with a large section dedicated to Çatalhöyük, then you continue with each of your steps taking you decades forward along history. It goes across stone ages, copper age, bronze age, iron age - hittites, phrygians, urartians, greeks/romans. Walking among these well-preserved items from daily lives of perhaps my great(x100+)grandparents felt unreal. Surely there were the Hittite sun discs. But I stared a long time at Phrygian bowls - they were staggeringly reminiscent of the "hamam bowl" of today (metal bowl with a small dome in its center and patterns around). On the same display were safety pins, so some of that time went into examining these.

Anyway, the outer chamber leads you back to the entrance (and giftshop and cafe). So I went into the dimly lighted inner chamber (more of a hall). It is full of wall carvings (each must weigh a ton) with lots of explanatory text. Due to time constraints I skipped most of these texts.

And then there was the lower floor, dedicated to findings only from Ankara (which was quite more than what I expected). It is funny to see displays labeled "Roman tombs of <whatever> neighborhood", if you are driving past that neighborhood every day.

Lastly, I went back up to examine the cuneiform tablet display (because a horde of Japanese elderlies were gathered around it in my first pass). I guess I spent the longest time there, reading each plaque, and examining the mode of communication and data storage that was before the paper letters and books which were just before the thing I'm using now to communicate with you all. The clay tablets were mostly small enough to fit into a hand, seemingly very practical (as cuneiform should be, for example it was way faster than hierogliph). Things like wills, marriage documents, legal proceedings, and best of it: letters. Just as we send our paper letters in paper envelopes, they used to send their clay tablet letters in envelopes of clay, with more writing that I assumed to be the sender's and recipient's name and address on them. A cross between an epic from the depths of history, and The Flintstones, I wanted to receive a clay letter, and break it open.

Sorry getting carried away... Having spent about one and a half hour in the best museum of Ankara, we went out and walked uphill through the gates of the citadel. Old houses, old shops, old stone-paved streets, you don't see much else until you reach the inner walls. After passing a couple of consecutive gates, you turn right onto a steep street (slippery soles prohibited), which takes you to a restored tower that is open to visitors. I always thought Atakule provided the best vantage point, I was wrong, and that was probably why they built the castle there millennia ago. But be aware that there are no guardrails or parapet, and in some higher parts one misstep inward or outward will result in a plummet off the walls. Let me be clear on this: Citadel is the best vantage point, but the view is awful as you find yourself looking from above the poorest parts of the city with roofs of some houses in chaotic disrepair since before I was born (in contrast Atakule looks over the neater parts of the city). As long as you look at the horizon the view is ok. You can also see Aslanhane Mosque (oldest in Ankara - 13th century I think) nearby, southwards, with its Seljuk architecture. To the north, the walls continue to its higher tower (with a flag and parapets), but it is quite far (the citadel is bigger than it seems from the distance) and we didn't go all the way there.

So we went down to our buses and completed another 3 hour walkabout.

London, United...
posts: 5,745
reviews: 2
2. Re: afternoon walkabout: sites in old Ankara

Great stuff nkt - fascinating reading. I loved hearing about the safety pins! Unfortunately I am still shaking just at the thought of climbing up the citadel - will have to leave that one out whenever I get to Ankara!

Ankara, Turkey
Destination Expert
for Ankara
posts: 1,808
reviews: 3
3. Re: afternoon walkabout: sites in old Ankara

Although this is not on par with my two previous afternoons described in the posts above, but I went to the restored section of the old city on Sunday afternoon. It is made as if to look the way the neighborhood was more than 100 years ago. It is a cute cozy atmosphere of mainly white walled, timber framed houses with wooden doors and windows. Kind of like a mini Safranbolu or Beypazarı in the middle of the city. Many of the restored houses are residential, and their insides aren't restored, so you can see only from the outside. But several of them are cafes or restaurants. Among these some tastelessly have modern decoration inside, but some others are ok. The one place I would specifically recommend is Simit Sarayı (which is a pastry chain - kind of like Turkish equivalent of Dunkin'Donuts, but infinitely better taste).

Drools....

Other than old houses, the neighborhood has a small clocktower and a statue of the most skilled Turkish poet. But of course these are new and probably of not much value for tourists. In addition, a little, 400 year old mosque here was the monastery of Taceddin sect

Walking around and taking some pictures, plus eating the best simit ever, took about an hour..

Istanbul, Turkey
posts: 14,873
reviews: 1
4. Re: afternoon walkabout: sites in old Ankara

I can't believe I missed this post during the summer!Apologies NKT.Such an interesting account plus the up date/continuation.Recently there have been a few posters asking about things to see and do in Ankara so this is perfect timing for them.

Ankara, Turkey
Destination Expert
for Ankara
posts: 1,808
reviews: 3
5. Re: afternoon walkabout: sites in old Ankara

I felt like bumping this thread, because I intend to add to it and otherwise it would be closed tomorrow. Sorry for bumping just for the sake of bumping.

6. Re: afternoon walkabout: sites in old Ankara

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 2:54 am, November 20, 2010