The city of Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850 meters. It is the center of the province of the same name, which Is a predominantly fertile wheat steppe land with forested areas in its northeast region. It is bordered by the provinces of Cankiri and Bolu to the north, Eskisehir to the west, Konya and Aksaray to the south, and Kirikkale and Kirsehir to the east.
The region's history goes back to the Bronze Age, Hatti Civilization, which was succeeded in the 2nd millennium BC by the Hittites, then the Phrygians (10th century BC); Lydians and Persians followed. After these came the Galatians, a Celtic race who were the first to make Ankara their capital (3rd century BC). It was then known as Ancyra, meaning anchor. The town subsequently fell to the Romans, Byzantines, and Selcuk's under Alparslan in 1073, and then to the Ottomans under Yildirim Beyazit in 1402, who remained in control until the First World War.
The town, once an important trading center on the caravan route to the east, had declined in importance by the nineteenth century. It became an important center again when Kemal Atatürk chose it as the base from which to direct the War of Liberation. In consequence of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared the capital of the new Turkish Republic on the 13th October,1923.
Anitkabir (Ataturk Mausoleum): Located in an imposing position in the Anittepe quarter of the city stands the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic. Completed in 1953, it is an impressive fusion of ancient and modern architectural ideas and remains unsurpassed as an accomplishment of modern Turkish architecture. There is a museum housing writings, letters and items belonging to Ataturk as well as an exhibition of photographs recording important moments in his life and the establishment of the republic. (Anitkabir and the museum is open everyday, except Mondays. During the summer, there is a light and sound show in the evenings).
The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations : Close to the citadel gate an old bedesten has been beautifully restored and now houses a marvelous and unique collection including Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian and Roman works. (Open everyday, except Monday. During the summer, the museum opens everyday).
The Ethnographical Museum : Opposite the Opera House on Talat Pasa Boulevard is the Ethnographical Museum. There is a fine collection of folkloric artifacts as well as fine items from Seljuk and Ottoman mosques. (Open everyday, except Monday).
The Ankara Citadel : The foundations of the citadel were laid by the Galatians on a prominent lava outcrop, and completed by the Romans; the Byzantines and Seljuk's made restorations and additions. The area around and inside the citadel is the oldest part of Ankara and many fine examples of traditional architecture can be seen within the citadel walls. There are also lovely green areas in which to relax.
The Temple of Augustus : The temple can be found in the Ulus quarter of the city. It was built in the 2nd century BC and only later dedicated to the Emperor Augustus. It is important today for the 'Monument Ancyranum', the testament of Augustus that is inscribed on its walls in Latin and Greek. In the fifth century the temple was converted to a church.
The Roman Bath : The bath, situated on Cankiri Avenue in Ulus, has the typical features of Roman baths: a frigidarium (cold section), tepidarium (cool section) and caldarium (hot section). They were built in the time of the Emperor Caracalla (3rd century AD) in honor of the god of medicine, Asclepios. Today only the basement and first floors remain.
The Column of Julian : This column, in Ulus, was erected in 362 AD probably to commemorate a visit by the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate. It stands fifteen meters high and has a typical leaf decoration on the capital.
Haci Bayram Mosque : This mosque, in Ulus, next to the Temple of Augustus, was built in the early 15th century and subsequently restored by Sinan in the l6th century with Kütahya tiles being added in the 18th century. The mosque was built in honor of Haci Bayram Veli whose tomb is next to the mosque.
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