Ankara travel guide
Turkey’s capital may be best known as a modern financial centre, but beyond the looming skyscrapers you’ll find domed mosques, buzzing street life and the country’s best museum, along with important monuments and a citadel district chock-a-block with creaky Ottoman charm.
Ankara’s chunky walled fortress overlooks the downtown district of Ulus, and the steep walk uphill is rewarded by a stop off at the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, which has wonderful exhibits tracing the entire history of this ancient land. Beyond the ramparts, a labyrinth of cobblestone lanes lined with antique stores and old-fashioned market shops weave down the hillside and are perfect for afternoon meanders and souvenir shopping amidst a sense of old world ambience.
Downtown Ulus has a slightly downtrodden feel but is home to a clutch of sights that nod to Ankara’s Roman roots, as well as some interesting small museums and art galleries. Hop south to Kızılay and you’re transported into a thoroughly cosmopolitan and modern cafe district buzzing with vibrant, youthful energy, where students sip cappuccinos and promenade on the pedestrianised streets. Another hop south from here brings you to upmarket Kavaklıdere, Ankara’s embassy district, which has leafy parks and plenty of shopping and restaurant choices.
Standing on a hill just to the west of the central city is the sprawling Anıtkabir complex, the mausoleum of Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey. Ankara’s most important monument, it’s a fitting tribute to the man who created Ankara as a capital and rebuilt the entire nation after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.