Long ago, in the 3rd century BC, the Galatians were the first to make "Ancyra" of those times, their capital. Much later on, in 1923, M. Kemal Ataturk chose the same district to be the capital of newly founded Turkey, and "Ankara" thereafter remained the strategic heart of the country.
Today's modern city, situated at the core of Anatolia, hides an ancient site behind, dating back to prehistorical times. The remains from Urartian, Phrygian, and Hittite periods have beautified the area here, now fascinating the visitors by enlivening the respective periods.
For the ones who would like to go to the very beginning, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which is the third most important archeological museum after Paris-Louvre and London-British museums, is a perfect place to observe its wide collections of Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti and Hittite works of art. The pieces exhibited here are unique in the world and it is exciting to see the lifestyle of the earliest humans with those beautiful objects.
Viewing the subsequent Phrygian period is possible by taking excursions to nearby locations, such as Gordion (Yassihoyuk), the capital of the kingdom, not far from Polatli. Excavations have brought to light the advanced artistic works of this civilization which dates back to the 10th century BC, and which had an important influence on artistic works of the successive ages.
Next came the Lydian invasion which was followed by the Persian settlement continuing until the death of Alexander the Great, who had stayed in Ankara after he gained the rule of Asia.
After Galatians, Romans and Byzantines conquered the land, they erected plenty of monuments some of which are still remaining. This includes the most prominent Roman ruins, the Temple of Augustus from the 2nd century AD, built in the Corinthian style and dedicated to the Emperor. It is a remarkable and important sight with the "Political Testament of Augustus" on its walls, inscribed in Greek and Latin. In the 5th century, this temple was converted into a church by the Byzantines. The original high walls are still standing.
The ruins of a Roman theater and the Roman baths of the 3rd century AD, are other interesting figures together with the Column of Julian, a memorial from the 4th century
Captured by the Arabs, Seljuks and Ottomans in succession, Ankara has many artistic examples of those periods inside its borders, such as the Alaeddin, Arslanhane, Kursunlu, Ahi Ervan and Haci Bayram mosques, built during the 12th and 15th centuries. Kocatepe Mosque is the most recently built mosque and has a capacity to hold 20,000 worshippers.
Almost all of the historical remains in the city are situated around the old citadel, "Hisar", where, according to legend an anchor was found while it was being constructed, from which the city took its name "Ancyra". Inside its walls it contains examples of old Turkish houses alongside the ancient ruins. There is also a covered bazaar, called "bedesten", close to the gate "Hisar Kapisi".
The principal monument and dominating sight in Ankara is Anitkabir, the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. The building composed of limestone stands in majesty, with its beautiful architectural style and is reached by a ceremonial road adorned with fine statues and reliefs. Nearby is a museum, housing some of the personal belongings of Ataturk. Ataturk's house located at Cankaya, has been converted into a museum.
Ankara today is a center of history and culture. The Ethnographical Museum and the Sculpture and Painting Museum are noteworthy for their wide collections of artifacts from the area. The performances of the well-known philharmonic orchestra and frequent artistic events include ballet, theater, opera and folk-dancing. In addition are two yearly international festivals: "The Arts and Music Festival" and the "Children's Festival", both held every April. Also present around the city are some sites of natural importance, such as the lakes of Golbasi, Cubuk Dam, Kurtbogazi Dam, Karagol for resting, and Mount Elmadag for winter sports. In addition, Kizilcahamam is a thermal and hot springs center for places such as Ayas, Haymana and Beypazari. The city has good excursion opportunities to the historical and natural sites of Cappadocia, Gordion, Hattusas, and Alacahoyuk.
Atakule, and Karum Center are excellent shopping centers. This city of such diverse features also possesses a wide variety of specialties. Ankara is known for its wool, goat, cat, pear and honey, and the land itself is special and should not be missed..
93 kms from Ankara on the Eskisehir road, is Gordion, the capital of the old Phrygian Kingdom. This ancient city took its name from King Gordios who was the founder of the state under the leadership of King Midas, the son of Gordios, and dominated central and southern Anatolia.
Through the excavations performed here, a high gateway and houses belonging to the royal family were found under the city mound. Also discovered were the tumuli, the most prominent one being the 53 meters high and 300 meters wide tumulus of King Midas of the Golden Touch. It is the second largest tomb of its type in the world.
Another special interest is the legend concerning the famous Gordion knot, the untying of which was prophesied to be possible only by the master of Asia. When Alexander the Great invaded the Anatolian peninsula, he cut this knot with his sword and gained the key to the continent.
The ruins are spread all over this ancient site, an area which is still being excavated for the interest of history-lovers. The local museum is a must-see where the archeological finds are on display, as well as at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara which houses many of the artifacts found in the region.