Local time: 06:26
A small provincial town until 1923, Ankara has expanded greatly from the tiny area around the old citadel walls (Ulus) where Atatürk first made his headquarters, to enclose the hill village of Çankaya to the south. In fact Ankara had been a flourishing trade and administrative centre in Roman times. It is believed to have been the birthplace of King Midas of the fabled golden touch. It has been established with even greater certainty that Ankara was the summer capital of the Roman emperors around A.D. 400. The emperors are believed to have shifted their court to the cooler climes of Ankara to get away from the humidity and heat of the erstwhile Constantinople.
For a taste of the ancient, there is no better place to start than the Ulus Square where a huge statue of Atatürk on horseback stands. The inscription on the statue is written in Ottoman letters as it dates back to the time before Turkey adopted the Latin alphabet in 1928. Downhill, across the road is the small building which used to house the first Turkish parliament or Grand National Assembly.
While visiting Ulus you have to see the magnificent Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Housed in a former bedesten (covered bazaar), which has been beautifully restored and now houses a unique world class collection of masterpieces from the Neolithic and Bronze ages, and the Assyrian, Phrygian, Urartu, Hellenistic, and Roman eras. But the most prized collection is a comprehensive array of Hatti and Hittite arts and crafts dating from the 2nd millenium B.C.
No trip to Ankara is complete without a visit to the final resting place of the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk's Mausoleum, which dominates the Ankara skyline, is the symbol of the secular republic Atatürk built from the debris of the Ottoman Empire.