Ankara Where Modern Turkey Connects With Its Past

Besides being the capital of Turkey, Ankara hosts two major locales commemorating Turkey’s modern history and its archaeological past   

The Atatürk Mausoleum

also known as Anıtkabir, is the final resting place of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey.  

Anıtkabir commemorates Atatürk’s legacy and his pivotal role in shaping modern Turkey. It was designed by architects Emin Onat and Ahmet Orhan Arda and was completed in 1953. On a hill overlooking the city it’s an important site for Turkish national identity.

The Ceremonial Plaza is a large open space where official ceremonies and events are held. It is flanked by symbolic reliefs and sculptures representing various stages of Turkey’s history.

Road of Lions is a pathway lined with monumental lion statues leading visitors from the plaza to the mausoleum. These statues symbolize strength and guardianship.

Hall of Honor is the central building of Anıtkabir and housing the tomb of Atatürk. Simple and dignified, Atatürk’s sarcophagus is illuminated by natural light from a dome above. His tomb is a marble sarcophagus placed at the center of the Hall of Honor. A nearby eternal flame symbolizes his everlasting influence.

Museum: Anıtkabir includes a museum section that displays personal belongings of Atatürk, historical artifacts, and documents related to his life and accomplishments.

Peace Park features landscaped gardens, reflecting pools, and sculptures, providing a serene environment for contemplation.

Anıtkabir is not just a burial site; it’s a place of reflection, education, and national pride. It welcomes millions of visitors each year, including both Turkish citizens and international guests, who come to pay their respects and learn about Atatürk’s contributions to Turkey’s modernization and the establishment of the republic. The site is an important symbol of Turkey’s history and the values that Atatürk championed, such as secularism, modernity, and nationalism.

The Anatolian Civilizations Museum

is one of my favorite museums in the world (as usual don’t ask me to actually rank anything – just accept it’s one of the best). In attractive displays it highlights the rich history and cultural heritage of the Anatolia (most of modern Turkey).  

The museum occupies two historic Ottoman-era buildings: the Mahmut Paşa Bedesteni (covered bazaar) and the Kurşunlu Han. These buildings were repurposed and renovated to house the museum’s vast collection.

That collection ranges from prehistoric times to the Byzantine era. It features artifacts from various ancient Anatolian civilizations, including the Hittites, Phrygians, Urartians, Lydians, Greeks, and Romans. Exhibits include sculptures, pottery, jewelry, tools, weapons, religious artifacts, offering a comprehensive look into the region’s history and cultural evolution. It’s a fitting conclusion to our visits to some of the archaeological sites & ruins of the cultures presented here.

One of the museum’s highlights is the extensive collection of Hittite artifacts, including the famous Sphinx Gate from Alacahöyük and the imposing statue of King Hattusili III. These artifacts provide valuable insights into the Hittite civilization, a major power in the ancient Near East.

The museum’s layout and presentation follows the chronological progression of Anatolian history, witnessing the development of various civilizations that thrived in the region. Its emphasis on archaeological context and historical significance makes it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, scholars, and anyone interested in exploring Turkey’s rich heritage.

By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us