ANKARA

Turkey’s Beating Heart

The city of Ankara lies in the centre of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850m. With its yellow wheat fields, young volcanoes and infinite steppe, the plateau offers a stern landscape though a look at its history reveals millennia rich with emotive episodes.

Due to its location in the centre of the country, the region has been a historical junction of major trade routes and a crossroads of migratory streams. The Hittite Empire, one of the superpowers in antiquity, emerged here in Central Anatolia. The Hittites distinguished themselves not only through the civilisations they created, but also through the state structure they evolved and their tolerance and respect for human rights.


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Throughout history, Ankara has witnessed battles between powerful armies in quest of domination. The city was an important cultural, trading and arts centre in Roman times and a major trading centre on the caravan route to the east in Ottoman times. However, it had lost importance by the 19th century. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk chose Ankara as the base from which to direct the War of Independence, it once again became an important centre. By consequence of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared the capital of the new Republic of Turkey on October 13, 1923. Ankara, known until that time for its rabbitscats and goats, became the geographic, political and administrative centre of Turkey, with all the government offices and foreign embassies transferred from İstanbul. This dramatic change profoundly affected the appearance of the city; what was in effect an ancient Anatolian town had to acquire a new personality quickly, a change which was made very successfully. It was no longer the modest Ankara of artisans and small tradesmen, but a city hosting politicians, government officials and foreign diplomats. The first buildings to alter the skyline of Ankara were the Museums of Ethnography and of Painting and Sculpture. They no longer stand alone and today Ankara counts a number of skyscrapers, large shopping centres, five-star hotels and bank headquarters.