I’ve been told there are two types of people in Turkey, those who love Istanbul and those who love Ankara. I’ve also been told that Istanbul is a city you’d like to visit, while Ankara is where you’d want to live – having lived in Ankara for two months, I can agree with this. An extremely new city, Ankara was constructed around an old Turkish village in the 1920’s on Atatürk’s command as a defensible city from which the Turks could push back the European forces trying to colonize Turkey. After the formation of the Turkish Republic, Ankara went on to become the nation’s capital.
Of course, since this is Turkey, you have to remember that even a brand new city will still have ruins. Close to the heart of Ankara lies Ankara Kalesi (Ankara Castle), a castle of unknown origin but possibly dating back to Roman times. Close to the castle is the Anatolian Civilizations History Museum, which houses an extensive collection of all the people’s to have passed through Turkey. Also seriously worth a visit is Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum, which was designed with architectural references to a number of the past civilizations in this part of the world.
A serious draw of Ankara is also its nightlife and cafe culture. The pedestrianized Kizilay neighborhood is definitely worth checking out for its assortment of bars, street cafes, and merchandise being sold on the street. Not far away is Tunalı Hilmi Street, which is packed with shopping, restaurants, bars, and narghile cafes. At the end of the street is also Kuğulu Park, a sunken park beneath street level ringed with grassy embankments with a swan lake in the middle – its super peaceful.
Getting to Ankara is easy. Every city with an airport will fly to Ankara, and almost every city will have a bus going there too. If you are flying into Turkey from another country, there is a chance you may fly directly into Ankara too.