Abdul Muqeet Waheed
Ankara is occasionally overlooked when making travel plans, which is sad because the Turkish capital offers more than most tourists are aware of. Ankara is an excellent city to visit if learning about Türkiye’s extensive history is one of your main travel objectives.
First-time tourists to Türkiye frequently commit the mistake of believing that Istanbul is the capital city while it is Ankara. I am sad to tell you that I made the same mistake. Yet I was also guilty of this stupidity.
The nation’s top museum and Atatürk’s mausoleum, two of the nation’s most significant historic tourism destinations, are located here. In addition, a stroll through Ankara’s citadel area provides a window into the city’s past, before it was elevated to the rank of the nation’s capital.
Did you know that, in contrast to New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, Ankara is bigger than the majority of American cities?
Ankara is a great starting point for further explorations into the Anatolian interior because of its strategic location, where you can easily take day trips to several ancient sites and other historical attractions.
Listed below are some of the things I recommend doing in Ankara, Türkiye, in a day, without further ado:
Is It Valued To Visit Ankara?
Türkiye’s capital, Ankara, is where each of the main governmental offices is housed there. We’ve previously discussed this. Surrounding Ankara city, you will discover several stunning architectural structures as well as a wealth of historical information.
Roman, Byzantine, Hellenistic, and Ottoman architectural and archaeological structures may be found in Ankara, a very old city. One of the outstanding examples of Ottoman architecture is the historical center built on the rocky hill, which also has Roman ruins like the Temple of Augustus and Rome, which dates to the 20th century BC and the Roman Baths.
As a result, Ankara is undoubtedly a beautiful spot for history fans. City wanderers will enjoy exploring Kizilay’s center neighborhood as well as the capital’s historic section.
While museum enthusiasts will find some fascinating places to visit. Consequently, each sort of traveler may find something.
More impressively, Ankara’s size has nearly doubled since 1990. A fascinating mashup of antiquated tradition and modernity is produced by this kind of growth and development together with a very rich history that spans thousands of years.
How to Get TO ANKARA?
By Plane ( Flight)>>
Ankara Esenboga Airport is the single airport inside the city and is located roughly 30 kilometers away from the city center. Finding a flight to Ankara shouldn’t be difficult based on where you’re coming from. Ankara is served by both national and foreign airlines.
Pegasus is the most affordable and moderately pleasant airline for travel from any city in Türkiye. Pegasus also offers international service to dozens of nations, including those in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Additionally, several airlines offer flights to Ankara, including Turkish Airlines, Ukrainian Airlines, Lufthansa, and LOT, to mention a few.
From every major Turkish city, you have the option to drive to Ankara or catch a long-distance bus. There are way too many combinations to list here, but let’s use a road distance from Istanbul as an example.
Driving from Istanbul to Ankara will require 450 kilometers, although the route is direct, excellent, and rather beautiful. Bus travel is another option, and Türkiye boasts several outstanding long-distance bus companies, like Kamil Koc, Pamukkale, and Metro. You can plan to travel by bus for about 7 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
Traveling to Ankara (Ankara Card)
Ankara is a sizable city with an excellent system of public transportation that includes buses, metro stations, trains, and “dolums” (minibusses). There is a specific bus service from the airport to the city center, run by the organization Havas. Each ride costs 11 lira. These buses are available at each airport in Türkiye.
Purchase an Ankara Card rather than a single-use ticket if certain sights are far apart and you don’t prefer to walk. You may use the card for both buses and the metro, and you can travel twice within 75 minutes at a reduced rate.
Ankara Card is available to buy from metro stations. The cost of a card is 6 Lira, and each new ride charges 2.50 Lira. The card may have any amount of income deposited onto it. It’s worth highlighting that apart from other cards you may get in Europe, this one isn’t bound to the amount of time or days of your trip.
Things to do in Anakara
Governmental offices are located in Ankara, not a tourist destination. Furthermore, it is a sizable metropolis that spans a huge territory. The city of Ankara did, however, provide a wide variety of attractions that matched my interests. Here’s what I did in the sequence I done it:
1. Roman baths
The Roman bath remnants from Ancyra, the historical name for contemporary Ankara, are on display at this outdoor museum. Due to its favorable position during the Roman era in what is now Türkiye’s territory, Ankara served as the provincial capital of Galatia.
I began my day by touring the Roman baths in Ankara. Ankara served as a crucial crossing point between East and West during the Roman era, and the Romans built a lot there in the third century CE, although not much of it has survived. The baths were among the biggest in the Roman Empire, and they were not far from the city’s oldest section.
After paying the entrance charge of 5 lira ($1, less than €1), I initially down several stairs to reach a huge level field. The routes surrounding and across the field are lined with remains of Roman art and architecture. It made me think of countries like Greece and Israel where artifacts from antiquity are so abundant that they frequently end up laying around. They frequently consist of items that would be shown prominently in a US museum.
The field is dotted with gravestones with human carvings or epitaphs, broken pillars with elaborate Corinthian adornment, and random structural features. After crossing the field, I arrived at the baths, which were encircled by a wall with a boardwalk on top so that guests could observe them from a little above.
The remnants of the common aspects of Roman baths, including a hot bath (caldarium), warm bath (tepidarium), and cold bath (frigidarium), as well as a dressing room and a pool, may be seen while walking about the ruins but without going inside. There are still a few small, tidy heaps of bricks that would have supported a floor and allowed warm air from an oven to flow around them.
The Roman baths are notable since they provide a sense of Ankara’s age. When the Turks built Ankara as their capital city in the 1930s, they discovered more than just Roman remains. The Phrygians, who lived 1000 years or more before, were one of the ancient cultures that the Romans built upon.
Roman Baths: Anafartalar Mahallesi, Çankırı Cd. No:43, 06050 Altındağ, Türkiye. everyday from 8:30 to 17:00. 10 lira (€1.50/$1.70).Address, opening hours and Fee
2. Hacı Bayram mosque
It shouldn’t be difficult to walk from the Roman baths to the mosque if you are a good walker. I didn’t since the most direct path was blocked by a sizable construction project. Therefore, I got a cab, which really only took about three minutes to arrive at a pedestrian street a few blocks from the mosque (5 lira, or less than €1/$1, but the driver attempted to get me to pay 20 lira, or €3/$3.50).
Moschee Hac Bayram was built in the fifteenth century. It includes a large plaza on one side and fountains on the other in Ulus, the oldest section of the city.
Numerous residents, not tourists, had gathered in the plaza to take advantage of the waning February light when I went there on a Friday morning. Men were setting up mats on the plaza, maybe preparing it for spillover from the mosque, while the fountains were broken.
Guards searched everyone by patting them over or running their hands over them with portable metal detectors as the plaza’s entrances were closed off. I asked a female guard who wasn’t wearing a headscarf if I required one, and she simply shrugged. I wore my headscarf after noticing that everyone else wearing one was a woman in the square.
Then, I took off my shoes outside and went inside the little tomb section of the mosque, which was just beneath the minaret. The majority of the little space is taken up by the grave of Sufi spiritual leader Hac Bayram-Veli. Both men and women can pray while standing or kneeling. Although the ceiling has some lovely details, I didn’t feel secure shooting photos there with my camera because there were so many people praying. I’m not sure of the restrictions because I didn’t feel safe trying to access the mosque’s main area. Male visitors would certainly be granted entry, but women probably couldn’t enter beyond a designated women’s area.
Hacı Bayram mosque: Hacı Bayram Mahallesi, 06030, Sgk-ulus Şubesi, 06030 Altındağ, Türkiye. Although there aren’t any set hours, it should remain open all day. There is no fee, but make careful to find out what is and is not allowed. If you’re female, you should come in modest attire and with a headscarf. Before entering, remove your shoes.Address, Opening Hours and Some Tips
3. Enjoy the View from Ankara Castle
The city’s Ulus district is home to the 476 BC-dated Ankara Castle. The castle was constructed as a military castle in the past, and this remains apparent in the structure.
The route to the Ankara Citadel winds along a narrow, steep cobblestone lane with a variety of stores lining either side, selling anything from souvenirs to stones, fabrics, and spices.
Additionally, this area of Ankara has white houses that resemble those from the Ottoman era and are constructed out of either wood or stone.
I was standing close to the mosque when I noticed Ankara Castle sitting high above a neighboring hill. However, I didn’t feel like climbing the surrounding hill to the castle and back up again, so I once again took a cab. It cost approximately 2-3 euros and took about 10 minutes.
Two squat, rounded towers surround the grand entrance of Ankara Castle. But it was the bricks that made up those skyscrapers that caught my eye. It is clear that the builders of the seventh and ninth centuries were thrifty and did not want to throw away perfectly fine stonework that was laying around. The building, which is mostly made of black stone blocks, is sprinkled with marble fragments that were taken from the former Roman stronghold that formerly stood on top of the hill.
Although it is unclear how long ago the hill was defended, these workers were probably remodeling earlier versions of the castle.
In any event, Ankara Castle is more of a fortified hilltop than a true castle, and all that’s left of it are the walls. You enter a neighborhood of winding pedestrian streets filled with gift stores and eateries at the main entrance. These are fascinating old structures, many of which have clay tile roofs and wooden frames packed with brick and mud. You may access the castle’s interior walls at the top of the hill after a short stroll.
There are no safety-related changes to the inside castle walls. While I was there, a few locals and a group of Japanese visitors were climbing and strolling the walls like mountain goats, which I didn’t dare to try. I simply didn’t feel elegant enough to take the danger because of the uneven and unguarded wall tops in several areas.
Nonetheless, I could view the slightly foggy skyline of the contemporary city beyond the locations where I felt secure looking over the roofs of the older homes nearby. Even though I had many other places to visit in Ankara to do, it must be beautiful at sunset.
Ankara Castle: Kale Mah., 06240 Altındağ, Türkiye. Open every day from 8:00 till 18:00. Zero entry fee.Address, Opening Hours and Entrance Fee
The mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the forefather and then first leader of the Republic of Türkiye, is called Anitkabir, which translates to “memory tomb.” Among the first things to do after arriving in Ankara is to visit the site.
I got a cab once again because Anitkabir is roughly a 15-minute journey from Ankara Castle (about 20 lira or 4 euros). The Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Mausoleum is an outstanding structure situated on a hill amid a vast, lush grassland. He also served as the commander of the Turks during their fight for independence.
Anitkabir, which was finished in 1953, is made out of a huge, flat, rectangular plaza with a massive, square tomb at one end and lower porticoes surrounded by pillars on all sides. Atatürk-related exhibits may be found in a few rooms hidden behind the porticoes.
Just in time for the changing of the guard, which included some extremely accurate goose-stepping military and was followed by a throng of visitors taking pictures, I arrived at the location. After that, I adored exploring the plaza in the golden light of night and taking in the tomb itself.
I was amazed that a structure constructed in the 1950s, which isn’t my preferred era for architecture, could be so beautiful. Despite its enormous scale, the mausoleum’s open form and simple, well-proportioned construction make it feel light and airy. As I entered the mausoleum, I was once again taken aback to see that Ataturk’s tomb is rather modest, situated at the end of a wide, empty central hallway, and unadorned but for a simple wreath.
Anitkabir: Anıt Caddesi Tandoğan, Türkiye. open every day, although Mondays are a closed day for the museum. It’s free.Address, Opening Hours and Entrance Fee
5. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
The Museum of Anatolian Cultures, possibly the oldest prominent museum in eastern Anatolia, displays rich relics from the Paleolithic and Neolithic times. Additionally, it has artifacts from the Roman, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartu, and other past cultures.
Just a short distance downhill from Ankara Castle lies the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The magnificent, 15th-century structure in a tree-shaded area was formerly a market and has been skillfully transformed into a museum. The tall, domed central hall is lined with bas-relief orthostats, which are substantial square stones that were once used to design the lowest portion of walls. They are from the earlier Bronze Age and the Hittite Period and show scenes like Egyptian gods and goddesses or wars between the Hittites and the Egyptians.
Artifacts from many historical eras and locations are displayed in halls that form a square around the main hall. At this stage, I skimmed by simply moving through the corridors and allowing the more arresting works to grab my attention.
Here, a wide range of forms and historical eras are presented in pottery, metallurgy, and stone carving. Alongside sculptures and other ceremonial things, practical items like tools and pottery can be seen.
The best discoveries from the Roman baths dig are on display away from the elements in the Greek and Roman area, which I visited after descending the stairs.
I took a trip around the grounds outside, where a sculpture garden-like area is covered in sculptures of all kinds. A series of exquisitely carved Roman tombstones are located along one side of the structure.
Large clay pots that can’t stand on their own are arranged in a group in the corner. I think they were storage pots because they are less ornamental than many of the objects inside.
It would take at least a couple of hours to properly explore this museum.
The Museum of Anatolian Civilization: Kale Mh., Gözcü Sk. No:2, 06240 Ulus/Altındağ. Open every day: 8:30–19:00 from April–October and 8:30–17:30 from November–March. Admission costs 36 lira ($6; €5.50).Address, Opening Hours and Entrance Fee
6. Aslanhane Mosque
The Aslanhane Mosque, which dates to the 13th century, is among the earliest in Türkiye and is located close to the Museum of Anatolian Civilization and the Ankara Castle. It was worthwhile pausing to take in the architecture even if I didn’t go inside. Numerous stones were salvaged from prior buildings, just like the castle.
Aslanhane Mosque: Kale Mh., 06240, Kale Sk., 06250 Altındağ, Türkiye. Although there aren’t any set hours, it should remain open all day. There is no fee, but make careful to find out what is and is not allowed. If you’re female, you should come in modest attire and with a headscarf. Before entering, remove your shoes.Address, Opening Hours and Some Tips
What Have I Learn from This Trip
Although Ankara could not be the most beautiful city in the world and is probably to be included in the list of the top destinations anytime soon, this does show tourists another aspect of urban Türkiye.
If you ever find yourself in Türkiye, schedule some time to explore Ankara and experience the city’s forward-thinking spirit.
Istanbul serves as the main hub for international travel to and from Türkiye. However, there are several direct flights from important hubs in Europe to Ankara Esenboa International Airport. I flew Lufthansa Airlines nonstop from Munich to Ankara.