Top Ancient Sights in Ankara

March 20, 2012 by

Best Of Lists, Sightseeing, Things To Do

Temple of Augustus in Ankara Instanbul

Temple of Augustus in Ankara Istanbul

Few cities have grown so big, so quickly as Ankara, once known as Angora (yes, like the goats’ wool, which originated near here). It’s only been the capitol of Turkey since 1923 but the tall buildings, prestigious modern government quarters and urban sprawl which have sprung up since then can’t completely disguise the city’s ancient origins. Here’s where to encounter Ankara’s distant past:

Citadel: More or less every civilization which came through Ankara left its mark on the imposing Citadel, Ankara’s most prominent landmark, whose origins lie 3 millennia in the past. But it’s not just the battlements, but the jumble of houses representing centuries of architectural change, in and around the Citadel, which make this one of the most appealing spots in Ankara for an unhurried stroll.

Temple of Augustus and Rome: Ankara (or Ancyra as it was then known) was an important trading center for the Romans, and capital of the province of Galatia. There were more people living in Ankara at this time than at the beginning of the 20th century and such was its importance that at the death of the Emperor Augustus, a copy of his testament was affixed to this temple. Roman baths and a column celebrating a visit from the Emperor Julian are also nearby.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations: This building dates from the 15th century, but the exhibits are generally much older. The museum explores Turkey’s ancient roots, starting with the earliest traces of settlement, through civilizations such as the Hittites, Lydians and Phrygians through to the more familiar format of ancient Greek and Roman remnants, right up to the Ottoman Empire. Highlights include elegant Hittite bronze work and Roman marble sculptures.

- James Conway

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