Main Attractions and Sights in Ankara

The capital city of the Phrygian empire, the remains of the renowned city of Gordion are near the Ankara-Eskisehir highway at the confluence of the Sakarya and Porsuk rivers, 21 km northwest of Polatli, and 90 km from Ankara, in the village of Yassihoyuk. The history of Gordion goes back to 3000 BC (Early Bronze Age). It was an important settlement during the Assyrian and Hittite periods (1950 BC – 1180 BC) and, of course, the Phrygian era (900 BC – 620 BC), during which it was the capital city. It was named after King Gordios, the king who made it the capital. The famous knot made by King Gordios was cut in two by Alexander the Great in 333 BC, when he wintered in Gordion.

The period of Alexander the Great (300 BC -100 BC) began in Gordion with his conquest. Following that, the area came under the control of the Romans (1st century BC to 4th century AD) and then the Selcuks (11th – 13th century AD). All of this occurred in the short space of 4000 years.

The Bitik Tumulus is 42 km northwest of Ankara. The excavations have uncovered, from top to bottom, dwellings belonging to the Classic Age of the 5th century BC and going back to the Late Bronze Age. The Phrygian and Hittite dwellings are less important than the others. The artifacts at Bitik from the Late Bronze Age document the interest in Eastern and Western Anatolia.

Located 5 km north of Ankara on the banks of Cubuk Creek, it was excavated in 1937 by Professor Sevket Aziz Kansu under the auspices of the Turkish History Association. At the lowest level, tools belonging to the Late Stone Age were recovered.

Sightseeing around Ankara

Infidel Castle
60 km southwest of Ankara, this area from the bed of Babayakup Creek, which flows right beside the hill, has been the site of continuous settlement. The hill was given the name Infidel Castle because of the broken down walls. Gavurkale has drawn the attention of many. On the southern exposure of the steep cliffs is a relief of two gods walking, one behind the other, and across from them sits a goddess. There is a wall made of gigantic stone blocks surrounding this rocky outcrop. The stone reliefs here is just one example of these uniquely Hittite monuments found.

Researchers have determined that this was an important walled city. At first it was thought to have been a Hittite worship centre, but later it was realised that the Phrygians settled here as well. The site was visited in 1930 by Ataturk himself. In the following years a number of surface investigations were conducted, and in 1998 new excavations were begun at Gavurkale by the Chair of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Karalar is a village about 60 km northwest of Ankara, and is important because of the fact that it witnessed continuous settlement during the Classic Age. In the region known as Asarkaya, the architectural remains of a Celtic castle. Artifacts belonging to the Hellenistic Age have been found in the tumulus. Ancient coins discovered came from Egypt and Syria.

The Temple of Augustus
Situated adjacent to the Haci Bayram Mosque in Ulus, the temple was built in the 2nd century BC in honour of the Phrygian Goddess Men. The remains of the temple we see today are those of the temple built in honour of the Roman Emperor Augustus as a sign of fidelity by the King Pylamenes, the son of the Celtic ruler Amintos.

Julian’s Column
This is located beside the pool between the financial directorate and the governor’s building.. It is about 15m high, with a number of rings along its length, and has no inscriptions. It is said to have been set up in honour of Emperor Julian when he passed through Ankara (361-363 AD). It is known locally as the Belkis Minaret.

Roman Baths
Located on Cankiri Street between Ulus Square and Yildirim Bayazit Square, the baths sit on a platform about 2.5m above the street.

The baths date back to Caracalla (212-217 AD). The Cankiri Street entrance to the Caracalla baths leads to a wrestling arena, which was covered with a portico surrounded with columns. On one side of this courtyard are 32 columns with a total of 128 over the whole area. The actual baths are located immediately behind the wrestling arena. Besides the unusually large size of the structure, the baths have a very typical layout consisting of the Apoditerium (dressing area), the Frigidarium (cold-section), the Tepidarium (warm section) and the Caldarium (hot section).

Ankara Roman Theatre
Located between Hisar and Pinar streets, the theare was first discovered in 1982 and a salvage excavation began on March 15 1983 by the Museum Administration. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations continued the excavations until 1986. What was uncovered was the remains of a typical Roman theatre dating back to the 2nd century AD. In addition to a number of statues and statue pieces, all that remains are the foundations and walls of what was once a vaulted parados building, orchestra, amphitheatre and a stage.

Mosques, Tombs etc in Ankara

Ankara Castle
The castle, which has guarded the city for centuries, is now a symbol of Ankara and its history is as old as the city itself. Although it is not exactly known when the castle was built, it is commonly believed to have been built by the Romans, then repaired and expanded by the Selcuks. It towers 110 meters above Bentdere Creek (Hatip Creek) which runs along its base. There are two parts, an inner and an outer castle, with over 20 towers. The outer castle encloses the old city of Ankara within its heart-shaped walls. The four-level inner castle is made partly of Ankara stone and partly of stones gathered from other structures. The two large gates of the inner castle are called the Outer Gate and the Castle Gate. The towers within the castle vary between 14-16 metres in height. Today within the castle walls there are a number of Ottoman-style houses dating as far back as the 17th century.

Kalecik Castle
Kalecik Castle is 78 km from Ankara on the road to Cankiri, and is a strong landmark from the modern town as it was founded on a cone-shaped hill. It is connected to the mountains in the southwest by a ridge and sits high above the plain formed by the Kizilirmak (Red River).

Mosques, Tombs and other places of worship
Some of the city’s most important mosques are: Agac Ayak, Ahi Elvan, Ahi Yakup, Aslanhane (Ahi Serafettin), Cenab-i Ahmet Pasa, Alaaddin, Cicekcioglu, Direkli, Eskicioglu, Hacettepe, Haci Arap, Haci Bayram, Ibadullah, Karacabey, Kocatepe, Kursunlu, Tabakhane, Tacettin and Zincirli.

Tombs: Ahi Serafettin, Azimi (Ismail Pasazade Haci Esad), Cenab-i Ahmet Pasa, Hacibayram Veli, Ismail Fazil Pasa, Karacabey, Karyagdi, Kesikbas, and Yoruk Dede (Dogan Bey).

Recreational Areas in Ankara

The 640,000 square metre park is on Irfan Bastug Street in Aydinlikevler, and consists of a wide range of facilities which are all open to the public, including sports centres, cultural centres, restaurants, as well as gardens and lakes. Tel: (0312) 317 9670/317 9696

Atakule has a great influence in Ankara’s modern appearance. The 125-metre tower stands 118.2 metres above the ground, and the 600 sq. metre multi-purpose cocktail bar at the top of the tower is used for weddings, seminars and conferences.

The revolving restaurant (111.8m) makes one full revolution every hour. The lookout terrace at 104m is open everyday from 09.30 to 23:00, and there is a cafe/bar at 100m. Tel: (0312) 440 7701

Ataturk Forest Park
Established by Ataturk, the park is one of the most important recreational areas in Ankara and contains teahouses, picnic areas, a zoo and produces a number of products. City buses, minibuses and community trains provide transportation.

Genclik Park
Between the Train Station and Opera buildings, this is a popular entertainment centre in the summer, with an amusement park, tea-gardens, food shops, summer theatrical productions, a large pond with paddle boats and canoes, restaurants and a variety of amusements. All the facilities in the park are open between May and October.

Bayindir Dam
The Dam is on the Samsun Highway, 12 km from Ankara. With its natural beauty, teahouse, camping area and swimming pool, it is a recreational area popular with foreigners and locals alike. There are buses and minibuses that provide transportation.

The Cankaya Ridge
Located near the Presidential Mansion and the Ataturk Museum, the Ridge offers a picturesque view of the whole city. Even on summer days, park is relatively cool, with sweet shops and teahouses.

Cubuk Dam
The forested area around Cubuk Dam, 12km from Ankara, has picnic areas, small restaurants, teahouses and wonderful hiking trails. It is an excellent place to tour by car, and there are also city bus routes to the area as well.

Located 25 km southwest of Ankara on the Konya Highway, on the shores of Lake Mogan, it has restaurants and coffeehouses as well as a beach and teahouses. This recreational area makes the summer heat more tolerable, especially the swimming pool beside the lake, which is also an excellent place for canoeing. There is a good range of transport provided by city buses.

Other Recreational Areas include MTA Rose Garden, Kurtbogazi Dam, Sariyar Dam, Beynam Recreational Forest, Camkoru Recreational Forest, Guven – Karagol Recreational Forest, Hosebe Recreational Forest, Karagol Recreational Forest , Sorgun Recreational Forest, Sogutozu Recreational Forest, Tekkedagi Recreational Forest and Uluhan Recreational Forest.

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