The humble city of Ankara might have missed its rendezvous with destiny and remained a languid backwater town of Anatolia but for the efforts of one man. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk decided to make Ankara the centre of his resistance. He was, of course, fighting against the Allies' controlled Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I. In retrospect, Mustafa Kemal's choice of Ankara as the seat of government of Modern Turkey is symbolic. A lackadaisical city not bogged down by the weight of history, Ankara was the perfect choice for the founding of a new Turkey.
Not Just a Transit Point
A cursory glance at the city and many tourists will feel that it is just another concrete jungle and would hardly, if ever, put Ankara on the list of their "must see" places in Turkey. In fact, most tourists use Ankara only as a transit point to visit her older and historically bountiful cousins like Konya and Cappodocia. But if you go a little deeper, you'll find that Ankara has more to offer than meets the eye.
Ankara is young, vivacious and Western. It is the administrative centre of Turkey and home to most embassies of the world's countries. It is also home to more than 20 different universities, some of them amongst the most reputable in Turkey. Angora, as it was called for a long time, before its official naming in 1930, is renowned throughout the world for its famous Angora wool from Angora rabbits, Angora cat, Angora goat (known as mohair) and its honey, pears and Muscat grapes.
Go south and you will reach Kavaklidere or Tunali, the more liberal and youthful district of Ankara. Back streets are full of cafes, pubs and good restaurants, often filled with young students. Then there are the affluent neighborhoods of Bilkent, Umitkoy, Cayyolu and Park Caddesi. Cankaya is where you will see the famous Atakule Tower, Presidential Palace and most embassies.
Other Touristy Locations
From archaeological remains to beautiful mosques, Ankara offers good value for a sightseer. Check out Anitkabir, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's mausoleum; visit landmarks like Victory Monument, Hatti Monument, Statue of Ataturk; trek in local parks like the Genclik, Anayasa, Kugulu and the Guven and shop at the old shops in Cikrikcilar Yokusu (Weavers' Road) near Ulus.
Global Flavors on Your Plate
Ankara is known for its sumptuous "doner kebap" as also for its fresh fishes. The city offers you global and local flavors to suit your gastronomic preferences. But most foreigners' digestive systems are not meant to digest this amazingly diverse variety of food. So do keep a check on your health. Keeping your medication handy helps. Also a comprehensive travel insurance plan secures you from the ungodly costs of hospitalization, if it is required. Besides, it also covers the cost of hotel extension in emergency situations.
Explore Ankara honestly and she will reveal her secrets to you. Like most Turks, she is gentle, hospitable and warm. A city tugging at its historical roots, trying to break free to be a brash young "Westernised" girl, Ankara is an enigma to be discovered.