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Ankara is the capital city of Turkey and the second largest city in the country after Istanbul. It is located at the heart of both Turkey and Central Anatolia. The population is around 4.5 million. Ankara is the administrative center of Turkey and a huge university town, so it has a large population of government workers and university students. As the national capital Ankara is home to a large population of foreign diplomats and embassy staff, so it offers goods and services that might be more difficult to find in other Turkish cities - for example you will have no problem ordering a cappucino or a hamburger. Ankara is a sprawling, modern city which can appear as little more than a dull, concrete jungle at first glance. As a result, many tourists tend to use it merely as a transit point for getting to places like Konya or Cappodocia. However Ankara does have a lot to offer for those prepared to look a bit deeper. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Ankara
- Anıtkabir, open daily, museum open daily except Mondays -, completed in 1953 and situated on an imposing hill in the Anittepe quarter of the city is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. A museum nearby displays a large collection of Atatürk memorabilia and provides an excellent overview of modern Turkey's history. Australians and New Zealanders will find it interesting to hear the story of Gallipoli presented entirely from the Turkish point of view.
- Atakule Tower, Çankaya. The highest structure of the city, with a shopping mall located under the tower. (Note: Atakule shopping mall itself, where very few shops are left open, will close in autumn as it will be transformed to a hotel.)
- Ankara Ethnography Museum, Talat Paşa Bulv, Ulus (opposite the Opera House).
- Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi), Gözcü Sokak 2, Ulus (on the way to the citadel from Ulus), ☎ +90 312 324 31 60, fax: +90 312 311 28 39, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Display of artifacts remained from Asia Minor/Anatolian civilizations. Oldest artifacts in display date back to Paleolithic. This museum is one of the best in Turkey and it makes Ankara worthwhile to visit.
- State Art and Sculpture Museum, (near the Ethnography Museum). Hosts galleries with temporary exhibitions as well as a permanent display of Turkish art from late 1800s up to today.
- Cer Modern. The recently opened (April 2010) modern art museum of the city, Cer Modern is housed in the historic power plant building of Turkish Railways. Contemporary art.
- War of Independence Museum (Kurtuluş Savaşı Müzesi), Ulus Square. This originally was the first building which hosted Turkish Republican Parliament, in which the War of Independence, fought in 1921-22 was directed from, as evidenced by photographs and other items in the display. Waxworks of former Turkish presidents are also on display.
- TCDD Open Air Steam Locomotive Museum. An open-air museum.
- Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum. Similar to Istanbul's industrial museum (of which Çengelhan is actually a part), the technological progress from 1850s onwards is on display in this museum housed in an old Ottoman caravanserai.
- Ankara Aviation Museum, Etimesgut (near highway to Istanbul). Various aircrafts, aviation items, missiles, and whatnot are in the exhibition, as well as a number of MiGs from the other side of Iron Curtain.
- METU Science and Technology Museum (on Middle East Technical University campus, on the highway to Eskişehir).
Archaeological Remains and Landmarks
- Roman Theatre
- Temple of Augustus
- Roman Bath
Parks and Gardens
As any other part of the Anatolian highland, the winters are cold and usually snowy. Temperature is regularly below the freezing point during this season, but it rarely drops below -15°C. Thanks to the low levels of relative humidity, the hot and dry summers are more comfortable than coastal regions of Turkey. Summer nights are cool, though, so be sure to bring at least a cardigan with you to wear outdoors. Spring and autumn are the wettest seasons, but with an annual rainfall amount of 415 mm (i.e., a semi-arid climate), you are unlikely to get much wet during your trip to Ankara, anyway.
Ankara offers a good selection of cinemas both in Kavaklıdere and Çankaya and several concert halls for classical music and opera. Many universities promote concerts and spring festivals but these are sometimes open to their students only. Folk and traditional music is very alive, from small bars and restaurants to big concert halls where you can find local stars like Musa Eroğlu. Depending on your interests, you can find trekking in local parks and in the surroundings, visiting the museums or hunting for the Ottoman or Selçuk remains in the ancient castle. Upscale shopping centers like Armada along the Eskisehir road also offer cinemas and quality restaurants.
Ankara is best known with its "döner kebap". In order to pick a good döner restaurant (there are many) you should take a look at the döner round. it should be rectangular and the cuts must be flat and separated.
Like many other capitals, Ankara is where you can eat the best and the freshest fish of the country all around the year (not the cheapest, though). Around Sakarya str., there are various types of fish restaurants, from fast food to stylish ones and it can be a good opportunity to also try rakı, which is known as a companion of fish. But fish restaurants abound in the city; in Cankaya there are at least two excellent ones, "Akdeniz Akdeniz" and "Lazoli" featuring the first Mediterranean and the second Black Sea cuisine. "Ege", located close to Tunali street, is another excellent choice for fish and raki. The restaurant has also a variety of wines. If you want to listen good Turkish classical music while you eat and drink raki, then "Sudem" should be seen. It is located on Olgunlar Street.
Besides many classic iskender kebab restaurants there are also many restaurant featuring the traditional cuisine of a specific city, catering to the community of more affluent immigrants: from the spicy Urfa to the variety of vegetables coming with Adana kebab. Uludag Kebabcisi on Denizciler Caddesi in Ulus has been around for about sixty years and is a top of the line restorant mainly serving Iskender kebap.
Finally, as the national capital, Ankara has a large population of diplomats, and hence there are a number of "international" restaurants in Kavaklıdere and Cankaya (also where the majority of diplomatic missions are located). Prices tend to be on the steep side.
- Kebaps and South Anatolian cuisine. Hacı Arif Bey, on Güniz sokak 48/1, is a well managed and delicious restaurant for savoring Gaziantep cuisine. A wealth of options are available and prices are not very high. A person can eat well for around 30-40 TL. Also there are plenty of cheaper restaurant options in Kızılay and Maltepe, selling fast food or kebaps, döner, lahmacun. In Cankaya, Tunali, GOP region you may find various types of Turkish cuisine and luxurious restaurants where prices go higher.
- Chinese and Thai. Both Sushico and Quick China are good options for Chinese, Japanese, Thai cookings and sushi, of course. Sushico's GOP restaurant especially has a very good garden. Quick China's branch on the Park Avenue "Park caddesi" is also very good, particularly for a Sunday brunch.
"Papsi" is a good choice to take a cold beer in a friendly atmosphere for years. It is located on Tunali Street. "Kitir" and newer "Random" are two other most popular bars, adjacent to Kugulu Park, also in Tunali. Corvus is on Bestekar Street offering Rock Music. There are many bars and places to drink on that street which is parallel to Bestekar. The Edge, Twister, Hayyami (wine bar) are nice places. Sakal on Kennedy Street is a unique place with electronic, reggae or retro (offering different kinds of music). On the same street Mono is pleasant place to drink. Tunus Street, parallel to Bestekar is another street where you may find many pubs like Retrox, Flat, James Cook and Zodiac. If Performance Hall, Manhattan, Overall and Siyah-Beyaz are places where you can drink and dance till 4 am with live rock music. There normally are rock cover bands and a huge crowd, especially on Friday and Saturday nights in these places.
"Sakarya" is full of the cheapest solutions. Among the best places in Sakarya, one should note "Net", which is a good choice not only take a glass of beer or raki, but also to eat. "Buyuk Ekspres" is also a nice old bar of the town. Also Eski-Yeni, Pasaj and Telwe are nice bars where you may find rock or alternative live music styles with cheaper drink prices compared to Tunali, Cankaya region.
"Park Avenue" -in Konutkent district- is the new street for classy bars, cafes and night clubs. You may also find second branch of Kitir, Random & Crossroads in "Park Avenue". Istanbul's fashionable night club Sortie has also opened in this avenue and is a nice place to drink any kind of drinks and listen to latest club mixes. Narquilla is a great place to have your nargile while drinking beer and enjoying nice food. Also, there are meyhanes (tavern) in which fixed menus are served with drinks and classic Turkish music played. There are bars and restaurants also in the historic core of Ankara, close to citadel. You definitely have to go and return by taxi though.
Don't expect a lively gay life of Istanbul in Ankara. No-one comes to Ankara for its amazing gay life, however you can still enjoy your time while you are here. It has only one gay bar-club (Sixties) and this is open only on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. It gets pretty crowded after 00:00 and plays Turkish and Western pop music. In addition to that, though it is not a gay bar, Eski-Yeni Bar in Sakarya Caddesi (street) seems to attract a gay-lesbian crowd especially in its bottom floor. Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat, the leading queer organizations in Ankara, hold activities throughout the year.
Ankara's Castle (Kale) has been a trade center for centuries, and its sellers of carpets, leather and antiquities are slowly moving upwards hoping to attract the tourist trade. It's still a delicious place for walking and browsing, and there are family firms where you can buy, for a price, excellent carpets and kilims. Walking down from the Castle you can walk through the covered market, an iron structure reminiscent of places like Les Halles in Paris, where you can buy very cheap and excellent produce. Ankara has a number of large shopping malls each of them offering fashion stores (including Zara, Mango, Harvey Nichols, Marks and Spencer ets.), technology retailers (like Media Markt, Electro World etc.) markets (like Carrefoursa, Tesco/Kipa etc.). Many of the new malls are located on the Eskişehir Yolu, including Armada, Cepa, Kentpark and Gordion.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Ankara on Wikivoyage.