Rising from a small town at the turn of the twentieth century to the capitol of the Republic of Turkey, Ankara has transformed into a global city as expected. Its ancient secrets, however, may surprise the wanderer.
Ankara, historically Ancyra, lies in the heart of Anatolia and a figurative crossroad of east and west. It is an ancient city trading empires from the Hittites to the Greek to the Romans to the Ottomans and, currently, as the capitol of Turkey. But while many cities in Anatolia have seen grander days than present, Ankara has never been so esteemed until present. At the turn of the twentieth century, Ankara was a small settlement not more than 20,000 people. Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, established this small town into the Capitol for the newly minted Republic of Turkey in the 1920’s, transforming the landscape into a large city of five million people today. In a sense, it a modern hub of the new Silk Roads, linking China to Europe through many developing countries.
Although the city is modern in many ways, ancient and historic remnants of the past can be found. Within the old quarters of Ankara are many monuments to Seljuk rule of the Middle Ages, such as unique, wood built and carved mosques like those found in grandest Silk Road cities in Central Asia. In the region around Ankara can be found legendary remnants. Hattusha, a three-thousands year ofl Hittite capitol lies a couple hours east. The ancient Phrygian capitol Gordion, of the legendary story of the unsolvable Gordion knot, which was eventually cut by Alexander the Great, lies an hours drive southwest. A modern highlight, without a doubt, is a visit to Ataturk’s mausoleum, built in a grand fashion of the mausoleums of past rulers. It’s pillars and stonework are a testament to modern Turkey and how the ideas brought along the Silk Roads are current as much as they are past.
THE SILK ROAD JOURNAL
How We Got Here:
Ankara is in the heart of Anatolia and the modern capitol of Turkey. We arrived via a 3-hour bus from Safranbolu.
Walking around the quaint and historic neighborhood around the Ankara citadel - exploring the wooden mosques, bazaars and unique cafes lined throughout the cobbled streets.
Getting caught in the middle of the changing of the guard atop Ataturk's Mausoleum. It was a fitting end to our last day in Turkey.