The Capital of Turkey: An Ankara Backpacking Guide

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Ankara, the Capital of Turkey, and the cosmopolitan hub is often overshadowed by the glamorous city of Turkey, Istanbul. While Ankara is devoid of royal palazzos and Ottoman structures, the Turkish city is full of vim and vigor with an irresistible air that you’ll be compelled to join in on. Architecture is much toned-down, but the streets are bustling with quaint stores and lively markets. The dining scene is vibrant and diverse, and the youth knows how to keep the city charged throughput the night.

In Ankara, the capital of Turkey, take your backpacking adventure a little slow. Explore the iconic monuments, walk the busy streets, and get to know the city like never before. Here are a few attractions of Ankara that you must check out while backpacking in Turkey.

Spend A Couple of Hours At Anıtkabir

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So, what if Ankara doesn’t have marvelous palaces like the other city of Turkey, Istanbul? When you come across Anıtkabir, you will completely forget the lack of royal structures. The monument is a mausoleum built to honor the memory of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk; the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. He was a revolutionary political leader, a war hero, and an author. It is not uncommon to see people, particularly locals, to be deeply affected.

Additionally, it is important to keep their feelings in mind as you explore the mausoleum. The tomb is only a small part of the complex. The Lion Road, an impressive pathway rimmed with statues of lions, will lead you to the ceremonial courtyard. Additionally, there are museums, libraries, and gift shops within Anıtkabir. You can easily spend half a day here exploring the colonnaded buildings.

View The Lofty Citadel (Hisar) Of Ankara Up Close

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Built Hittite era about 3000 years ago, the magnificent Hisar of Ankara can be spotted from far away. Ordered by the Byzantine emperor Michael II, its interior was built during the 7th century while its facade was completed in the 9th century. Enter the Citadel through its main gate, Parmak Kapısı. Turn right to visit the oldest mosque in the city, Alaettin Camii. It was constructed in the 12th century and still retains its splendor.

Also, there is a soaring tower called Şark Kulesi that offers panoramic vistas of Ankara. Here, you can climb to the top and gaze at the city views from the hilltop. Indeed, you will be surprised to know that some locals still live within the walls of Hisar. The houses are in a run-down condition with carved lintels and cracked column drums.

An Educational Trip At Erimtan Archaeology And Arts Museum

Ankara Museum
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The capital of Turkey is noted for its artistic and musical opportunities, and Erimtan Archaeology & Arts Museum gives a great insight into the city’s artistic culture. It is a private institution owned and run by Yüksel Erimtan, a renowned Turkish businessman and archaeology aficionado. In the newly-built museum, you can also see an impressive collection of artifacts and exhibits from different eras; Roman, Bronze Age, Hittite, and Byzantine periods.

The exhibits are interactive with innovative multimedia displays and interesting narratives. Some of the jewelry pieces and accessories are surely going to leave you stunned. Additionally, when you have observed the collections, head out to the garden cafe known to serve some amazing cup of joe.

Gaze At The Gothic Beauty Of Kocatepe Mosque

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Built over a period of two decades, Kocatepe Mosque is an iconic landmark symbolic of Ankara. Not only is it the largest mosque in Ankara, the city of Turkey, but it’s also one of the largest mosques in the world. The mosque features a neoclassical Ottoman architecture with soaring minarets combined with imposing domes that create quite a striking picture.

Every day, thousands of people come to the mosque. However, it somehow retains its tranquil ambiance. While on the main floor, thousands of devotees arrive to worship. However, its basement is a huge supermarket bustling with people who are there to buy groceries.

Climb The Fortress – Ankara Castle

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For those who wish to see a glimpse of medieval Ankara, the antique fortification provides a good idea. Dating back to the times of Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires, the castle is an iconic landmark; boasting an amalgamation of different historical eras. Constructed from white quartz stone, the castle is perched atop a steep hill surrounded by olde-worlde charm and serenity.

Within the castle, there is an entire neighborhood with about 600 houses that have seen better days. A huge wall circles the castle which was built to protect the fortress from the outside world. The castle has become a popular tourist destination because of its history and views it offers.

Observe The Ruins At The Roman Baths Of Ankara

Roman Baths Of Ankara Turkey
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Sprawling upon a plateau, the ruined remains of the Roman Baths were discovered in 1937. It took quite a few years to completely uncover the site after which it was turned into an open-air museum. According to researchers, the baths were constructed in the 3rd century by the Roman Emperor Caracalla. It was also later mixed with artifacts from Byzantine and Seljuk eras. To access the site, you have to buy a ticket.

Once inside, you will come across a wrestling court (palaestra) encircled by a portico which houses graves and tombs. Additionally, just behind the court are other rooms such as apodyterium (dressing room), frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (warm room) and caldarium (hot room). Put on your toughest boots for the site is quite rocky!

Learn The Past Of Turkey At The Museum Of Anatolian Civilizations

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Anatolia, known as Asia Minor in the medieval times, is the westernmost region of Asia; making up the majority of Turkey. Interested in Turkish history, it’s regal olden days and palatial relics? The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations offers a perfect glimpse into the past. The museum lies south of Ankara Castle and houses the finest exhibits from various archaeological sites in Anatolia.

Here, you can walk the various Ottoman halls and observe the diverse artifacts. They range from the time of Neolithic, Early Bronze, Assyrian trading colonies, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuq, and Ottoman eras. From gold and silver to marble and bronze, the cultural relics dating back to the first millennium BC.

Take A Leisurely Stroll At Gençlik Park

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Gençlik Park is one of the favorite spots in the city for locals to spend an afternoon. The public park is a great spot to unwind under the sky, especially if you have kids. There are quaint tea gardens, gushing fountains and several rides and statues for kids.

Luna Park is a funfair with quite a few thrilling rides. It is aimed to attract kids, but even adults can have a blast if they wish to. Also, if you need a little break from your backpacking adventure, Gençlik Parkı is an ideal place to relax and rejuvenate.

Pay a Visit to Hacı Bayram Camii

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Founded in the 15th century, during the Ottoman Empire era, is the Hacı Bayram Camii. It was named after Hacı Bayram-ı Veli, a Turkish Sufi, and poet. Also, it is one of the largest mosques in Ankara. The mosque is beautifully built with unique calligraphy in Arabic, paintings on wood panels and stunning carvings. Additionally, the mosque is surrounded by various shops that sell religious souvenirs to visitors.

Travel Back in Time in Altinkoy Open Air Museum

Altinkoy Open Air Museum is a rather whimsical spot located just outside Ankara, the capital of Turkey. The open-air museum offers an interactive experience. Here you can learn about how villagers used to live hundreds of years ago. The village-like museum also has mosques, stores, and cottages from ancient times. Additionally. there are even some outdoor cooking spots where you can enjoy a delicious and authentic Turkish meal.

Check Out State Art and Sculpture Museum

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When it comes to museums, the Capital of Turkey surely has its fair share. State Art and Sculpture Museum displays works of Turkey’s top-notch artists including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and photography.

Observe the Cultural Artefacts at Vakıf Eserleri Müzesi

If you ever had a chance to see Turkish carpets, you must know exotic they are. Vakıf Eserleri Müzesi is an ethnography museum in Ankara. It exhibits the finest collection of carpets that once adorned the floorings of mosques from around the country.

Also, apart from carpets and rugs, there is an array of exquisite metalwork, tilework, and wood panels. The museum is located east of Gençlik Parkı and is a treat for history buffs.

Attend Festivals in Ankara

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Ankara, the Capital of Turkey hosts various festivals throughout the year. It would be great if your backpacking trip could coincide with a few of them. Some of the notable festivals are Ankara International Film Festival, Ankara Music Festival, Ankara International Cartoon Festival, and Ankara International Dance Festival. Make sure to check your calendars!

Experience Ankara’s Nightlife

Turkey Nightlife
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As the sun goes down, Ankara is transformed into a city of lights. Bars, cafes, and nightclubs are all filled up, and you can hear music and lively chatter all through the night. From dancing at a club to enjoying tea at a roadside cafe, all is possible in Ankara at nighttime.


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