Ankara



Ankara is the capital of Turkey, central within the country on the plateau of Central Anatolia. It's a sprawling modern place around an ancient citadel, and in 2022 had a population of almost 5.2 million (second in size to Istanbul), with a further 600,000 living in the wider metropolis.

Understand

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Until 1923, Ankara was a provincial town of less than 30,000. Then Atatürk made it the capital of the new Republic of Turkey, a deliberate shift from the Ottoman capital of Istanbul with its literally Byzantine political life. The plateau was swiftly covered by drab concrete buildings and snarled highways, leavened by parks and woodlands, and occasional striking architecture. Although it never wrested the cultural crown from Istanbul, Ankara has a rich heritage in its museums, galleries and mosques, and tourists who just transit on the way to Cappadocia are missing an important chapter in the story of Turkey and Asia Minor.

Kocatepe Mosque

The city was already old when the ancient Greeks called it "the anchor", Аγκυρα, which to a sea-faring people indicated a base or home. Hattian, Hittite, Lydian, Phrygian and Galatian civilisations had risen and fallen before them; Persians, Romans and Byzantines were yet to come. In 1402 Timur - the Tamburlaine of legend - stormed all the way from Kabul, and won a battle that almost extinguished the Ottoman dynasty, but didn't stay to consolidate. So it was an Ottoman city and province for the next 500 years, giving the name "Angora" to long-haired cats, goats, rabbits and mohair textiles. Other European powers meddled in local affairs but concentrated on Istanbul, especially after Turkey was defeated in the First World War, and Greece was awarded much Turkish territory and tried to seize more. Atatürk rallied resistance in Ankara and the east, and the city's unconquered status made it a fitting capital.

Ankara acquired populations of government workers, university students, and incomers from the impoverished countryside. It didn't attract foreign immigration, but there's a stream of diplomatic visitors, and Ankara is more outward-looking than other Turkish cities bar Istanbul. Locals are generally friendly and helpful, and students / lecturers are keen to show off their English, but service staff such as hotel receptionists are not as widely fluent as in western capitals. You might want a translation app on your phone, especially if you're travelling further out.

Orientation

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Ankara
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City centre is the broad strip from Ulus south through Sıhhiye to Kızılay:

- Ulus means "nation" as the republic's original parliament and other major institutions were here, grouped around the inevitable equestrian statue of Atatürk.
- Sıhhiye means "sanitary works" as the Ministry of Health stands here. This district is bisected by the railway tracks so on this page it's described as "south", with its rump north of the tracks described as Ulus.
- Kızılay was named for the headquarters of the Red Crescent, the Turkish equivalent of the Red Cross, now replaced by a shopping mall. It has the Metro interchange.

Citadel is the term used here to describe the older districts east of Ulus: Hisar around the hilltop castle, and Hamamönü just south down the hill.

Further south from Kızılay are the upmarket (and uphill) districts of Kavaklıdere, Gaziosmanpaşa and Çankaya. The city's most expensive hotels and restaurants are found here, as are the embassies.

Southwest from Kızılay is Bakanlıklar (meaning government ministries), then İsmet İnönü Boulevard leads into the district of Eskişehir Yolu (referring to the former highway to Eskişehir). It's lined by university campuses and public buildings, including the National Parliament. Interminable ribbon-development eventually gives way to the open steppe.

Climate

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Ankara has a semi-arid, continental climate, with hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. Most rainfall is spring, with afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

Summers are hot, regularly topping 30°C in July and August, but humidity is low. Summer nights can be chilly, especially if a breeze starts up.

Early autumn has the best climate. Nights are cold but daytimes are mild and dry, unlike the wet spring months.

Winters are cold and often snowy, though the snow is seldom heavy, and cold below -20°C is very rare - not like the mountainous east of the country with perishing cold in mid-winter.

Get in

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By plane

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Esenboga Airport, but where's the bus?

1 Ankara Esenboğa Airport (ESB  IATA), Özal Blv, +90 312 590 4000. This has few international flights, but Sun Express has direct flights from German-speaking cities with large Turkish expat communities, such as Munich. There are also flights from Jeddah and Medina, the Gulf States, Baghdad, Tehran and Almaty. Most other routes involve a change in Istanbul at IST or SAW airports. Both have hourly flights to Ankara, taking an hour, by Turkish Airlines or Pegasus. Ankara has flights from most Turkish cities: from the beach resorts and Ercan in Northern Cyprus these connect with the direct flights into Europe. The airport has the usual facilities including baggage storage and car hire. See Sleep for hotels in or near the airport. Ankara Esenboğa Airport (Q430490) on Wikidata Esenboğa International Airport on Wikipedia

Transport is the major shortcoming of this airport. It's 30 km north of the centre, along a congested main road; there are no plans to extend the Metro here.

Belko Air bus runs downtown every 30 min 05:30-22:00 and overnight according to flight times. It runs via the railway station and Kızılay to AŞTİ bus terminal, which is on the Metro. With luck this takes an hour, traffic permitting, and in 2023 cost 11 TL. But belki is Turkish for "maybe" so the recurring joke is inevitable; the bus gets held up in city traffic.

Local (belediye, city council) bus Route 442 runs from the airport (arrivals level, watch for a crowd on the very far end of the dropoff lane on the arrivals level) and takes 40-50 minutes to the train station. Driver accepts cash, journey costs 25 TL (Jun 2023).

Havaş buses run to the bus terminal, AŞTİ.

A taxi downtown costs about 180 TL.

By train

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YHT trains run from Istanbul, Konya and Sivas
Wikivoyage has an article on Rail travel in Turkey

Ankara is on the YHT high-speed rail network, with trains:

- from Istanbul taking 4½ hours, 13 daily via Pendik (for Sabiha Gokcen airport), Gebze, Izmit, Arifiye (for Adapazarı), Eskişehir (for Bursa) and Eryaman (for west Ankara suburbs). In April 2023 the fare is 248 TL economy, 372 TL business. The temporary terminus for Istanbul is Söğütlüçeşme, pending the interminable reconstruction of Haydarpaşa, but check for updates.
- from Konya taking 90 min, five daily, for a fare in 2023 of 112 TL economy, 268 TL business. Two trains per day start from Karaman, with connections from Adana and Cyprus.
- from Sivas taking 2½ hours, three daily, for 240 TL economy, 360 TL business.

Other mainline trains (anahat trenler) are slow and scenic, with the emphasis on slow, but are called "Express" to compensate.

- Ankara Ekspresi departs from Istanbul Halkali station at 22:00, picking up at Söğütlüçeşme, Bostanci and Pendik plus nine other intermediate stations, reaching Ankara before 07:00. The return service has similar times, taking nine hours, and there are seats and sleepers plus a dining car.
- Izmir Mavi departs from Izmir Basmane station at 18:00 and takes 14 hrs overnight via Kütahya and Eskişehir; the return departs Ankara at 19:00.
- Destinations east of Ankara are served by overnight trains. The main services are from Kurtulan and Diyarbakir (Güney Kurtalan Ekspresi), from Kars and Erzurum (Doğu Ekspresi), and from Tatvan (Van Gölü Ekspresi), linked by dolmus or ferry to Van. Van has a train once a week from Tehran and Tabriz in Iran. These services will be radically changed by the Ankara-Sivas YHT link, which cuts ten hours off that section.

Some of these trains have tourist versions, though all remain suspended in 2023. For instance the Turistik Doğu Ekspresi runs from Ankara to Kars with long stops for sightseeing eastbound at İliç (for Kemaliye), Erzincan and Erzurum; the westbound train makes long stops at Divriği and Bostankaya. Journey time each way is 30 hours.

For all times and reservations (strongly recommended) see TCDD Turkish Republic State Railways website[dead link].

Local trains (bölgesel trenler) run five times a day to Polatlı. These can't be booked.

The railway from Azerbaijan and Georgia was completed in 2017 and passenger trains have been promised ever since, but to date the line only carries freight. Trains from Syria and Iraq are all suspended indefinitely and the tracks are ruined.

2 Ankara railway station, Hipodrom Cd. The north side is the original 1930s Art Deco station for slow trains and Başkentray suburban lines, and quickest accessed off Hipodrom Cd. South side is the modern station for YHT trains, quickest accessed off Celal Bayar Blv: this is gleaming steel and glass, with a shopping mall and hotel to complete the resemblance to an airport. The nearest metro station is Ulus 500 m northeast. Ankara railway station (Q800389) on Wikidata Ankara railway station on Wikipedia

Eryaman is a station in the west suburbs of Ankara where YHT trains also stop, and you can transfer to the cross-town Başkentray train. They no longer stop at Sincan (terminus of the Başkentray line) but slow trains from the west stop there not at Eryaman.

By bus

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Buses from Istanbul depart every 15 min round the clock, and take six hours to Ankara non-stop, for a fare in 2023 of 250 TL. Slower services may stop at Gebze, Izmit, Adapazarı and Bolu. Many are running through to cities further east, all of which have good connections to Ankara, see individual pages.

Buses from Izmir take 8 hours and from Adana 7 hours, with hourly services. From Bursa is six hours, but the usual method is to take the bus to Eskişehir to join the YHT fast train. Similarly from Antalya you join the train at Konya.

The main bus operators are Metro Turizm, Pamukkale and Flixbus, who took over Kamil Koç. Buses are clean and comfortable, see Turkey#Get around for tips on using them and buying tickets.

3 Ankara Intercity Terminal (AŞTİ, Ankara Şehirlerarası Terminal İşletmeleri), Mevlana Blv ( AŞTİ), +90 312 207 1000, . AŞTİ (pronounced ash-tee) is a huge two-storey building with extended wings. Normally buses arrive on the lower floor and depart from the upper floor, but this varies for buses running through with Ankara as an interim stop. The building is modern, and easy to navigate when the departure screens are working. It has ticket kiosks, left-luggage lockers (15 TL for 12 hr), cafes, shops and toilets. Two hotels are 500 m south, see sleep.

Get around

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The city has a dense bus network, a two-line Metro, and an east-west suburban railway called Başkentray. Good luck finding network information, even in Turkish.

There is no provision by any mode of public transport for travellers with restricted mobility.

By bus

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There are two bus operations, competing on the same routes and using the same stops. EGO (Ankara Belediye Otobüsleri) are white and run by the city, who also run the Metro and the Yenimahalle - Şentepe cable-car. In 2009 the system was part-privatised: ÖHO buses (Ankara Özel Halk Otobüsleri) are blue. Central bus stops often have displays of real-time services. There are no indicators or announcements within buses, ask other passengers where to get off, or track your location on your phone.

EGO (white) bus fares cannot be paid in cash: you need to buy a card from a kiosk or metro station. A single trip is 1.65 TL, two trips 3.30 TL, three 4.95 TL, five 8.25 TL, ten 16.50 TL and twenty is 33 TL. The same cards are used for the Metro, and each trip permits a transfer between bus and Metro not exceeding 45 min. Note these are not the Ankarakart, a discount card for Turkish students, teachers and elderly Ankara residents.

ÖHO (blue) bus fares are cash, for a flat fare of 2.75 TL.

By Metro

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Metro lines

The Metro, run by EGO the city transport operator, has three lines, which intersect at Kızılay. Remarkably, EGO have contrived to muddle their numbering.

Ankara Metro main line (M1, M2, M3) runs from the northwest suburbs of Sincan, Törekent and Eryaman to city centre (Ulus, Kızılay and Sıhhiye) then southwest to Çayyolu. Another line (M4) runs north from Kızılay to Keçiören.

Ankaray is styled differently yet is part of the same network. It runs east-west from Dikimevi via Kızılay to AŞTİ bus station.

Tickets are identical to the EGO buses and valid for transfer, see above for prices, and you buy them at kiosks or metro stations.

All stations are announced both on a display and by voice in the metros.

Suburban railway

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Başkentray[dead link] is the suburban line, transecting the city between Sincan and Eryaman in the west, through city centre and the main railway station, to Kayaş in the east. Trains run every 10 minutes from 07:00 to 21:00, then every 30 min to 23:00. Buy tickets in cash at any station. In 2022 a one-way ticket costs 1.70 TL and a return ticket costs 3 TL.

The line is shown in blue on transport maps and may be marked as B1. It's 37 km long, all above ground, and has 24 stations. There's nothing of visitor interest near the outlying stations, but to the west Eryaman is an interchange with YHT trains to Konya, Eskişehir and Istanbul, and Sincan is an interchange with other mainline trains. Kayaş to the east is also a mainline interchange, but not for YHT.

The system is owned and operated by TCDD Turkish State Railways, and until 2016 the same track carried mainline trains. That was incompatible with YHT and expansion of the suburban service so in 2016 the system closed for a couple of years while Ankara station was rebuilt and new tracks were laid parallel. It's planned to extend it northwest to Yenikent and Akçaören.

By taxi

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Ankara Castle

Taxis are numerous: they are yellow, have the sign Taksi on top of the car, and the letter T in their license plates. Have nothing to do with unlicensed drivers.

Flagfall in 2022 is 7.50 TL, then 6 TL/km. The rates for day and night are same. Tipping is not usual but you round up to the next TL.

Scams are the same the world over: offering a fixed price way above the metered rate, special airport / luggage fees, failing to start the meter, going a silly route, tricks with banknotes / change, and so on.

By car

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Avoid using a car in Ankara. Local drivers are fast, unpredictable and impatient even by Turkish standards, and parking is scarce.

See

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Within Arslanhane Mosque

Citadel

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  • 1 Ankara Castle (1.3 km east of : Ulus). Daily 10:00-20:00. This volcanic outcrop has probably been fortified since the dawn of mankind, but the earliest traces are from the Phrygians of 8th century BC. The castle was reinforced by the Galatians then the Romans. You stroll up through cobbled streets to the double walls and can climb one of the towers, with views of the sprawling city and distant mountains. Free. Ankara Castle (Q206225) on Wikidata Ankara Castle on Wikipedia
  • North Tower is another bastion of the citadel, 200 m north of the castle. You're aiming for the fluttering Turkish flag.
  • Sultan Alaeddin Mosque, Alitaş Sk (100 m west of castle). This is the city's oldest mosque, built in AH 574 (1178 AD) according to the inscription on its walnut mimber, but much modified since. Sultan Alaeddin Mosque (Q3906397) on Wikidata
  • Turk-Russian Friendship House (Türk-Rus Dostluk Evi) is a bright modern art gallery at Kale Kapısı Sk 20 below the castle, open daily 10:00-17:00.
  • 2 Roman Theatre, Bentderesi Cd (1 km east of Ulus), +90 312 310 7280. M-Sa 09:00-19:00, Su 10:00-17:00. Scrappy remains of the stage and backstage, they haven't restored the seating. Statues from the site are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. Free.
  • 3 Arslanhane Mosque (Ahi Şerafeddin Camii), Can Sk (1 km north of and Kurtuluş). Built in 1290 in Seljuk style, and repaired in 1330 under Ahi Şerafeddin hence its other name. Well worth the hike up the hill for its finely-carved interior, notably the ceiling supported by a forest of wooden columns. In 2023, five wooden mosques in Central Anatolia were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List - Aslanhane was one of them. Aslanhane Mosque (Q6033876) on Wikidata Aslanhane Mosque on Wikipedia
  • Ahielvan Mosque, Koyunpazari Sk (200 m below Arslanhane Mosque). Built in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, it has a richly carved walnut mimber or pulpit.
  • 4 Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi), Gözcü Sk 2 (800 m east of Ulus), +90 312 324 3160. Daily 08:30-17:30. Excellent display ranging from prehistory to the proto-Greek and Roman eras. Adult 80 TL. Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Q754322) on Wikidata Museum of Anatolian Civilizations on Wikipedia
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
  • Kelime Museum, Gözcü Sk 11 (opposite Museum of Anatolian Civilisations), +90 312 311 6893. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Small private art museum. Signage is only in Turkish.
  • Koç Museum, Depo Sk 1 (100 m south of Museum of Anatolian Civilisations), +90 312 309 6800. Tu-Th 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 10:00-19:00. Rahmi M Koç (b 1930) is the businessman who built up Kâmil Koç bus company, now part of Flixbus. This museum, a smaller version of the one in Istanbul, is crowded with exhibits on transport, communication and science since the 1850s. It's housed in Çengel Han, a caravanserai built in 1523. Adult 175 TL.
  • 5 Chess Museum (Gökyay Vakfı Satranç Müzesi), Basamaklı Sk 3, off Ulucanlar Cd, +90 312 312 1304. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. More chess sets ancient and modern than you'd think possible, including weird versions such as the three-sided game. Adult 15 TL.
  • 6 Molla Great Mosque (Molla Büyük Cami), Yasa Sk. A modest building in spite of the name, this was built around 1500.
  • 7 Cenâbî Ahmet Paşa Mosque, Ulucanlar Cd 56. Built by the famous architect Sinan in 1566, it's in finely-crafted Ankara stone. The mimber (pulpit) and mihrap (prayer niche) are of white marble.
  • 8 Ulucanlar Prison Museum (Ulucanlar Cezaevi Müzesi), Ulucanlar Cd 63 (Bus 308, 324, 354, 369 to Plevne Cd; 1 km north of Dikimevi), +90 312 507 0138. Tu-Su 10:00-16:00. This bleak place was built as a barracks then converted to a prison in 1925. It held almost 800, in a mix of semi-open and maximum security wings. It was a brutal instrument of political repression, with its inmates a long roll-call of literati and activists, torture was common, and 19 were hanged in the prison yard mostly for being Marxist. There was a series of riots in 1999. It closed in 2006 and was converted into a museum in 2011. Adult 9 TL. Ulucanlar Prison Museum (Q190497) on Wikidata Ulucanlar Prison Museum on Wikipedia

Ulus

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Column of Julian the Apostate

Altındağ is the correct name for this district, but that also includes the Citadel. For traveller purposes it's worth distinguishing the more modern district close to Ulus Metro Station, extending south to the mainline railway station and tracks. Its south end merges into Sıhhiye district.

  • 9 Victory Monument Victory Monument (Ankara) on Wikipedia (Zafer Anıtı) in Ulus Square is the focus of the district, a marble and bronze monument with Atatürk on horseback. Since it was erected in 1927 a year before the "alphabet reform", it's one of the few republican monuments inscribed in Ottoman Turkish, using Arabic script.
  • Museum of the War of Independence (Kurtuluş Savaşı Müzesi), Cumhuriyet Cd 14/22 (on Ulus Square), +90 312 310 5361. Daily 09:00-17:00. This was the first site of the Turkish Republican Parliament, from 1920 to 1924. The 1921-22 War of Independence was directed from here, and there are photos and other memorabilia. Later the building housed various government functions until becoming a museum in 1981. Signage is only in Turkish. War of Independence Museum on Wikipedia
  • Cardo Maximus is a stretch of Roman road 216 m long by 7 m wide, coursing north from Anafartlar Cd towards the Column of Julianus. It was discovered in 1995: its artefacts have been taken to the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations.
  • 10 Column of Julianus (Julian Sütunu, Belkıs Minaresi) is a 15 m column in the square behind the İş Bankası building. It was erected in 362 CE to commemorate the visit of Emperor Julian (331-363 AD), who stopped off in town while marching against Persia. He rejected Christianity and revived earlier pagan rites, so by Christians he was derided as "Julian the Apostate". His campaign in Persia started well then was a debacle and he was fatally wounded; his successor Jovian reinstated Christianity so Julianus was the last pagan emperor. His story is retold, with many artistic liberties, in the 1964 novel Julian by Gore Vidal.
  • 11 Hacı Bayram Mosque (Hacı Bayram Veli Cami), Sarıbağ Sk 13. 24 hours. This was built in 1428, restored by Mimar Sinan in the 16th century, and with Kütahya tiles added in the 18th. Hacı Bayram Veli (1352–1430) was a poet and Sufi teacher, and his ornate tomb is a pilgrimage site. Hacı Bayram Mosque (Q769575) on Wikidata Hacı Bayram Mosque on Wikipedia
  • Temple of Augustus (Monumentum Ancyranum), Sarıbağ Sk (next to Hacı Bayram Mosque). 24 hours. The Romans conquered Anatolia in the Mithridatic Wars of 88-63 BC, and created the province of Galatea with Ancyra as its capital. From 25 BC they built over what had been a Phyrigian temple to make an "Augusteum" for the worship of their emperor Octavian or Augustus (an outstanding ruler, a contrast to his successor, the dark and dissipated Tiberius). In the 5th century it was converted into a church by the Byzantines. Only the side walls and ornate doorway remain. Free. Temple of Augustus and Rome on Wikipedia
  • 12 Roman Baths (Roma Hamami), Çankırı Cd 43, +90 312 310 7280. Daily 10:00-16:30. Ruins of a large Roman bath complex, built under Emperor Caracalla circa 200 AD and in use for 500 years. They follow the classical design of frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (warm room) and caldarium (hot room), and their relative sizes show that Ancyra had winters as chilly then as now - those coins that fixed the dates were obviously not paid out to get even colder. Adult 20 TL. Roman Baths of Ankara (Q7361597) on Wikidata Roman Baths of Ankara on Wikipedia
  • Aviation Association Museum (Türk Hava Kurumu Müzesi), Hipodrom Cd 2 (200 m northwest of railway station), +90 312 303 7452. Tu-Su 08:30-17:30. Small collection of aircraft around a parachute training tower (only 41 m, so don't expect much freefall time). Not to be confused with the military aviation museum west edge of the city.
  • Korean War Memorial just west of the Aviation Museum commemorates the Turkish Brigade, which fought under UN command in the Korean War. Their biggest engagement was the series of battles at Kunu-ri in late 1950. Some 15,000 rotated through the Brigade, with 721 killed in action, 2111 wounded and 168 missing.
  • PTT Post Museum, Ataturk Blv 13 (200 m southeast of Ulus), +90 312 324 0871. Daily 09:00-17:00. Display of stamps and other postal memorabilia. Free.
Antique carpet in the Vakif Museum
  • Vakif Museum, Ataturk Blv 23 (300 m southeast of Ulus), +90 312 311 4925. Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Crowded collection of antique Turkish carpets, candle holders and Korans, watches, woodworks, tiles and other crafts. The 1927 building used to be a law school. Free.
  • Melike Hatun Mosque next to Vakif Museum was built in 2017 but in traditional Ottoman style.
  • Gençlik Park stretches east from the railway station to Hatun Mosque. It has a large ornamental lake and is sometimes a venue for open-air events.
  • 13 Cermodern, Altınsoy Cd 3 (500 m east of Sıhhiye), +90 312 310 0000, . Tu-Su 10:00-19:00. Contemporary art museum in the former power plant for Turkish Railways. Adult 40 TL.
  • 14 Painting and Sculpture Museum (Resim ve Heykel Müzesi), Türkocağı Sk, off Talatpaşa Blv ( Sıhhiye), +90 312 310 2095. Tu-Su 09:00-18:00. Built from 1927, this hosts a permanent display of Turkish art from late 1800s to present day, plus temporary exhibitions. State Art and Sculpture Museum (Q4818221) on Wikidata State Art and Sculpture Museum on Wikipedia
  • Ethnography Museum (Etnoğrafya Müzesi), Türkocağı Cd 4, off Talatpaşa Bulv (behind Painting and Sculpture Museum), +90 312 311 3007. Daily 08:30-17:30. Huge array of Turkic art covering painting, porcelain, woodwork, clothing, carpets, metalwork and weaponry. It was built 1925-28 and from 1938 to 1953 housed the sarcophagus of Atatürk, pending completion of his mausoleum of Anıtkabir. Ethnography Museum of Ankara (Q4533056) on Wikidata Ethnography Museum of Ankara on Wikipedia
  • 15 Hacettepe Art Museum, Hacattepe University (500 m northeast of Sıhhiye), +90 312 305 4343. M-F 10:00-16:00. Extensive display of Turkish painters and artists from the early days of the Republic until present times.
  • Mehmet Akif Ersoy Home Museum, Hacettepe University (within Taceddin Mosque 200 m east of Art Museum), +90 312 312 1873. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Ersoy (1873-1936) trained as a vet but became politicised in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire. He's best known for composing the Turkish national anthem. This museum reconstructs his stay here. Free.

South

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Changing the Guard at Anıtkabir

Most sights are in Sıhhiye beyond the railway tracks or a couple of km further in Kızılay.

  • 16 Anıtkabir is an extensive hilltop site centred on the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), founder of the Republic of Turkey. He died at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul and lay for 15 years at what is now the Ankara Ethnographic Museum before transferring here in 1953. It's a 20th century Giza, a pharaonic collection of tombs, monuments and museums in Art Deco style, with individual opening hours. The site is free to enter 24 hours, walk south up the parkland avenue from Tandoğan / Anadolu. The last section is the 262 m "Road of Lions", flanked by statues of lions representing the ancient Turkic tribes. (The gaps between paving stones imbue visitors with a suitably reverent attitude, apparently.) This concludes in the Ceremonial Plaza, where the coloured flagstone patterns are those of traditional rugs and kilims. Expect military pageantry and flag-waving here on all state occasions.
    • Hall of Honor holds the tomb. What you see is the symbolic ground-level sarcophagus. Atatürk lies 7 m below in an ornate but private Tomb Room, where he mingles with soil from all the Turkish regions of his day, including from Salonica his birthplace now in Greece, parts of Hatay now in Syria, and northern Cyprus.
    • Atatürk & Independence War Museum (Atatürk ve Kurtuluş Savaşı Müzesi). M-Sa 09:00-17:00. This is beneath the Hall of Honor and displays belongings and memorabilia of Atatürk, the 1915 battles of Gallipoli / Çanakkale and the 1920/21 War of Independence, and the postwar overthrow of the Ottomans and proclamation of the republic. Free.
    • Mausoleum of İsmet İnönü (1884-1973) is southwest side of the Ceremonial Plaza. He was Atatürk's right-hand man, the country's second president and had three spells as Prime Minister, embedding the Republic's modernisations. The tomb is small at ground level but below is an exhibition hall - this is only open for one week from Oct 29 Republic Day and for two weeks from Dec 25 the anniversary of his death.
    • Ten towers line Ceremonial Plaza, but they're set within the colonnade and don't stand tall. Their low pitched roofs are meant to symbolise Turkic tents, and they contain various statues and inscriptions of an uplifting patriotic nature. For example the tower west side of the Hall of Honor depicts the opening of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 23 April 1920, and holds Atatürk's Cadillac. So it's called 23 Nisan Kulesi but he didn't own 23 Nissans.
  • 17 Hittite Sun Disc Statue is the twee structure on Atatürk Blv as it enters Sıhhiye beneath the railway tracks. Its deer, two oxen and sun disc are supposed to commemorate Anatolian Hittite culture - a powerful realm from 18th to 12th century BC then gobbled up by Egyptian and Assyrian rivals. If you were disappointed at Anitkabir by not finding 23 Nissans, they're right here nose-to-tail in the traffic snarl.
Atakule Tower
  • Abdi Ipekci Park is just east of Sıhhiye station and the Hittite statue.
  • 18 Monument to a Secure, Confident Future (Türk, Öğün, Çalış, Güven Anıtı) is the sinister focus of Güven Park just outside Kızılay. "Turk! Be proud, work hard, and believe in yourself" is Atatürk's sage advice to his people, above which two gun-toting thugs pose, the "or else!" of the police and army. It was erected in 1935.
  • 19 Kocatepe Mosque, Dr Mediha Eldem Sk 67 (1 km southeast of Kizilay). 24 hours. This had been in the planning since 1944, but attempts at a modern style were thwarted by the conservatives. So what was built from 1967 to 1987 is a neoclassical Ottoman structure. Free. Kocatepe Mosque (Q853935) on Wikidata Kocatepe Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 20 Çankaya Mansion (Çankaya Köşkü), Ziaur Rahman Cd (4 km south of Kızılay), . Closed. Atatürk took a liking to this countryside mansion, which was rebuilt to become the presidential home after the capital moved to Ankara. The mansion became centrepiece of a large government campus, so "Çankaya" meant the presidency similar to "White House", "Kremlin" or "Downing Street". In 2018 the president's residence was moved 10 km north to the humongous (and off-limits) Ak Palace, but the vice-president's residence and several government offices remain here. It used to be possible to arrange guided tours of the mansion and other buildings, but these are no longer available. Cankaya Mansion (Q8077521) on Wikidata Çankaya Mansion on Wikipedia
  • 21 Atakule Tower is an oh-so-Seventies telecoms tower, 125 m high, with a rotating observation deck and restaurant. However it's closed as the shopping mall at its foot is demolished, and in 2023 it's not known when it might re-open.
  • Botanical Park is the large green space north of the tower, bounded by Cinnah Cd west and Çankaya Cd east. It's free 24 hours.
  • 22 METU Science and Technology Museum (Odtu Bilim Ve Teknoloji Müzesi), Dumlupınar Blv 1 (METU campus 1 km south of Bilkent), +90 312 210 6043. M-F 09:00-17:00. Large museum of science and technology. METU Science and Technology Museum (Q6715515) on Wikidata METU Science and Technology Museum on Wikipedia

Elsewhere

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Atatürk inspects the Forest Farm

This covers all other districts out to the ring road O-20 some 20 km out.

  • 23 Akköprü (200 m north of Akköprü) means "white bridge" though it's rosy basalt. With seven arches, it was built from 1222 to carry the main highway across the Çubuk River. Modern traffic rushes past on Fatih Sultan Mehmet Blv: this may be your best viewpoint, as in 2020 the bridge was barricaded off as a construction site.
  • 24 Atatürk Forest Farm (Atatürk Orman Çiftliği), Alparslan Türkeş Cd 68 (Başkentray train to Gazi then one km north), +90 312 211 0170. W-Su 09:00-17:00. Extensive model farm established by Atatürk, to prove that the dusty steppes around Ankara could be converted into good farmland. (His successors preferred to cover everything with concrete.) The barn has been turned into a museum of farming methods. Free.
  • 25 Turkish Air Force Museum (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri Müzesi), Fatih Sultan Mehmet Blv (corner with 2453rd Sk), +90 312 244 8550. Tu-Su 09:00-16:00. A collection of two dozen military aircraft. Adult 60 TL.
  • 26 Altınköy Open Air Museum (Altınköy Açık Hava Müzesi), 2022nd Sk, Beşikkaya (Buses from Ulus), +90 312 375 1588. Tu-Su 10:00-20:00. A reconstruction of 1930s-50s Anatolian village life, with buildings relocated from rural Western Karadeniz and demonstrations of crafts. The suspension bridge is a catchpenny extra. Adult 10 TL. Altınköy Open Air Museum (Q56438830) on Wikidata
  • 27 Lake Mogan Lake Mogan on Wikipedia is a 5 km long recreational lake south side of the town of Gölbaşı, 20 km south of city centre. It has camping areas, coarse fishing, picnic spots and walking trails. In 2023 you pay 5 TL per car.
  • Tulumtaş caves are by the intersection of O-20 and Turgut Özal Blv. They're extensive decorated caves discovered during construction of the ring road. As of Feb 2023, people are finding their way in but they're not yet officially open as show caves.

Do

[edit]
The Opera House
  • 1 Ankara Opera & Ballet (Opera Sahnesi), Atatürk Blv 20, +90 312 324 6801. This opened in 1948 and looks it, the grandeur is kinda faded. It hosts theatre as well as opera and ballet. Ankara Opera House on Wikipedia
  • IF Performance Hall is a live music venue at Tunus Cd 14 in Kavaklıdere.
  • Cinema: one that occasionally shows films in English is Cinemaximum to the northwest ( Akköprü).
  • Ankara International Music Festival is in April, with the next on 4-28 April 2023.
  • Bilkent Mayfest is organised by Billkent University but events are open to the public. It's unlikely to happen in May 2023.
  • Burn Sonance Festival of music is next held 9-10 June 2023.
  • Jazz Festival is in Oct / Nov, dates for 2023 TBA.
  • Ankara Film Festival is next held on 3-11 Nov 2023.
  • Şefika Kutluer Festival[dead link] of music is in December, dates for 2023 TBA.
  • 2 Goksu Park, off 1 TBMM Cd, Etimesgut (Bus 501, 502). Daily 06:00-23:00. Ranged around Susuz Lake, with an island restaurant, cafes and funfair.

Sports

[edit]
Eryaman Stadium
  • Football: MKE Ankaragücü were relegated in 2024 so they play soccer in TFF First League, the second tier. Their home ground Eryaman Stadium (capacity 20,560) is in the western suburbs, take the Metro to Devlet Mahallesi. MKE, since you were wondering, stands for Machinery and Chemical Industry.
- Gençlerbirliği SK share Eryaman Stadium. They too play in TFF First League.
- Ankara Keçiörengücü SK also play in First League. Their home ground is Aktepe Stadium (capacity 5000) 8 km north of city centre on Adnan Kahveci Cd.
- Ankaraspor were known as Osmanlıspor from 2014 to 2020 but have re-adopted their former name. They play in Second League, the third tier, at Osmanlı (Yenikent) Stadium, capacity 18,000, west edge of the city. Take the Ankaray train to its west terminus at Sincan then a local bus onward to Yenikent.
  • Golf: courses and ranges within the city remain closed in 2023. Regnum Golf Country Club is 50 km southwest near Halaçlı village.

Buy

[edit]
Useful to know: AVM stands for Alışveriş Merkezi, shopping centre.
  • Citadel approaches up Kale Kapısı Sk have been a merchandising area for centuries. There are lots of tourist-trappy outlets for carpets, leather and fake antiquities. At least you hope they're fake, because if genuine it's illegal to export them.
  • 1 Ankamall, Mevlana Blv 2 (: Akköprü), +90 312 541 1212. Daily 10:00-22:00. Huge shopping mall to the northwest with underground parking and food court.
  • 2 Armada, Dumlupınar Blv 6, +90 312 219 1319. Daily 10:00-22:00. Large mall 500 m south of the bus terminal.
  • Karum AVM, Iran Cd 21, +90 312 468 4984. Daily 10:00-21:00. Next to the Sheraton, this is the main south-side mall.
  • 3 Metromall, 30 Ağustos Dumlupınar Cd 2, Eryaman, +90 312 504 1515. Daily 10:00-22:00. Large mall with cinema, bowling alley and food court. It's northwest edge of the city so visitors might use it arriving or departing on the Istanbul motorway.

Eat

[edit]
Hall of Honor at Anıtkabir

Ankara has trad Turkish fare, with classics such as döner kebap, and seafood. It lacks the international variety of western capitals, though there are a handful of Chinese / Korean places. That's because in modern times it never had international immigration, but it did have incomers from other parts of the country, so regional cuisines are represented.

Budget

[edit]
  • Meşhur Adıyaman Çiğköftecisi and Meşhur Köfteci are chains serving meatballs, multiple locations.
  • Kızılay has a pedestrianised block full of little cafes and takeaways. It's east of Atatürk Blv and north of Ziya Gökalp Cd.
  • Ward Restaurant and café مطعم ورد, Bayındır-1 Sk (in Kızılay cafe block), +90 505 033 0022. Daily 08:00-00:00. This is the place to come for Iraqi food.
  • 1 Kızılay Komagene, Mithatpaşa Cd 56/B, +90 312 430 1112. M-F 11:00-00:00, Sa Su 12:00-22:30. Komagene are a chain serving meatballs and other trad fare. This outlet in Kızılay gets good reviews for food and service.
  • Zelal Cafe, Yüksel Cd 24 (50 m north of Komagene), +90 312 431 3232. Inexpensive trad food.
  • Nado's, Ataç-1 Sk 26 (100 m east of Kızılay cafe block), +90 312 433 3131. Daily 11:00-19:00. Friendly budget pizzeria.
METU Science and Technology Museum
  • 2 Kırık Oklava, Cemal Gürsel Cd 16, +90 312 362 1989. Daily 08:30-22:30. Great place by Ankara University Cebeci Campus for inexpensive wraps and pancakes.
  • Cebeci Komagene, Cemal Gürsel Cd 51 (just south of Kırık Oklava), +90 312 320 3053. Daily 10:00-02:00. A Komagene chain outlet open late, mixed reviews for food quality.

Mid-range

[edit]
  • Yargitay Evi Lokali, Milli Müdafa Cd 10, Kızılay (west side of Güvenpark), +90 312 418 5675. M-Sa 12:00-22:00. Inexpensive place looking onto Kızılay Square, quality erratic.
  • 3 Tarihi Çiçek Lokantası, Necatibey Cd 15, +90 312 229 4400. Daily 08:00-21:00. Smart place with good cuisine.
  • James Cook Pub, Tunus Cd 19, +44 312 419 9688. Daily 10:30-01:00. Good value pub and restaurant.
  • Sudem is a tavern at Konur Sk 63 with tapas / meze-style servings and Turkish music, open daily 11:00-01:00.
  • Korelee, Bestekar Cd 27, +44 312 418 0688. Daily 11:30-21:00. Delicious Korean food.
  • 4 Cafe des Cafes, Tunalı Hilmi Cd 83/A, Kavaklıdere, +44 312 426 5511. M-Sa 09:00-23:00, Su 09:30-22:00. Slick European-style cafe with Italian and Spanish choices.
  • Kıtır, Tunali Hilmi Cd 114 (south of Cafe des Cafes next to Kuğulu Park), +90 312 427 4444. Daily 12:00-00:00. Traditionally a rock bar but nowadays more of a restaurant.
  • Ege (which means Aegean) serves seafood on Tunali Hilmi Cd, open daily 12:00-01:00.
  • Göksu Lokantası, Bayındır-1 Sk 22, off Ziya Gökalp Cd (200 m east of Kızılay station), +44 312 431 4727. M-Sa 11:00-23:30. Great dining here. They have another branch south at Nenehatun Cd 5.
  • 5 Marti Restaurant, Bayındır-2 Sk 37, Kocatepe. It has a nice and relaxing atmosphere. There are two outdoor seating areas. The appetizers are great, and the food is perhaps even more so.
Melike Hatun Mosque
  • 6 Hanzade Konağı, Hacettepe İnanli Sok., Hamamönü, Tacettin Dergahi Karşisi No:5. It is a very stylish place with plants hanging on the wall and from the ceiling. Decor, presentation and taste are great. Employees are smiling and interested.
  • Uludağ Kebapçısı, Denizciler Cd 54, +90 312 309 0400. Daily 11:00-22:00. Named for the mountain above Bursa, this is an above-par kebab restaurant.
  • Kınacızade Konağı, Kale Kapısı Sk 28 (by castle), +90 555 256 9755. Daily 10:30-21:00. Atmospheric place just outside castle, good value, not tourist-trappy.
  • 7 Urumchi Uyghur Restaurant, Ziya Gökalp Cd 76, +90 312 433 5204. Daily 11:00-09:30. Ürümqi is in the far west of China, so they've quite a range of Asian cuisines to go at. It's a great place for different flavours, try the roast macaroni.
  • 8 Tarihi Mutfak Lokantası, Kocatepe, Mithatpaşa Cd. No:64. Historical Kitchen Restaurant. Typical Turkish cuisine. One of the places that make the best beyti in Ankara. A great presentation and the waiters are incredible.
  • Aşkabat Cd is a street west side of Anıtkabir with a slew of eating places. La’lozi Ocak Başı is a grill at the corner of 72nd Sk open daily 11:00-00:00.

Splurge

[edit]
  • 9 Quick China, Uğur Mumcu Sk 64/B, Çankaya, +90 312 437 0303. Daily 11:00-22:00. The name suggests a fast-food chain, and they do have other branches in Ankara and elsewhere, but this is excellent Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai cuisine. Pricey for Ankara but no big layout by Western standards.

Drink

[edit]
Akköprü Bridge

Most cafes and restaurants serve beer, wine and rakı. Free-standing bars are uncommon in Turkey away from the beach resorts, but Ankara has a strip flanking Atatürk Blv from Sıhhiye station south down to Kavlıdere Cd. Try Bestekar Cd and Tunus Cd.

Meyhanes are taverns with fixed meze-style menus, drinks and traditional Turkish music and dancing. "Meyhane" is Persian for "house of wine" though it's more likely to be rakı nowadays. They're along the same stretch as the other bars. There used to be a cluster around the citadel, but these relied on the tourist trade and disappeared during covid.

  • Telwe Bar, İnkılap Sk 6, +90 312 433 5454. Daily 11:30-05:00. Bar and late spot in the Kizilay eating strip.
  • Soul Pub, Olgunlar Cd 18, +90 312 424 0144. Daily 12:00-01:00. Friendly place with generous servings of pub food.
  • Corvus, Bestekar Cd 59, +90 312 426 5480. Daily 17:00-02:00. Lively late-night pub with rock music.
  • Twister, Bestekar Cd 82A, +90 553 888 0841. Daily 10:00-01:30. Pub with live music and belly-dancing.
  • Hayyami wine bar is next door at Bestekar Cd 82B.
  • Sakal Kafe Bar, John F Kennedy Cd 13, +90 312 424 1670. Daily 09:00-01:00. Cool place with a wide range of music.
  • Zodiac Pub is next to James Cook Cafe at 17 Tunus Cd.
  • Manhattan Rock Bar is at Üsküp Cd 11, open W-Sa 20:30-04:00.
  • Sixtiees Pub, Tunalı Hilmi Cd 96. The only outright gay bar in Ankara gets mixed reviews.

Sleep

[edit]
Windmill at Altınköy Open Air Museum

Accommodation is clustered in Ulus north of the railway station, in Sıhhiye south of the tracks, and in Kızılay further south. A strip of mid-range business hotels follows D200 a few km west - these are more convenient for the bus station.

Budget

[edit]
  • 1 Bihostel (Deeps Hostel), Ataç-2 Sk 46 (,: Kizilay), +90 531 872 4975. Amazing to find such a friendly well-equipped hostel so central. Open all year with dorms and private rooms.
  • Deeps Hostel 2 is another branch, southside at Libya Cd 2, tel +90 533 789 0886.

Mid-range

[edit]
  • 2 Yeni Bahar Oteli, Çankırı Cd 25, +90 312 310 4895. Clean and helpful, you can find cheaper on this strip north of Ulus Square but most are dismal. B&B double 1000 TL.
  • Divan Ankara Çukurhan, 3 Depo Sk, off Gözcü Sk (facing Koc Museum near castle), +90 312 306 6400. Charming hotel in a han, a former marketplace. B&B double 2500 TL.
  • 3 Ankara Gold, Güfte Cd 4, off Tunus Cd, +90 312 419 4868. Clean friendly central place. B&B double 1000 TL.
  • 4 Hotel Midas Kavaklıdere, Tunus Cd 20, +90 312 424 0110. Welcoming central mid-price hotel. B&B double 1500 TL.
  • King Hotel, Güvenlik Cd 13 (east side of Parliament), +90 312 418 9099. Simple rooms but good value for the prime location. B&B double 1000 TL.
  • 5 New Park Hotel, Ziya Gökalp Cd 58 ( Kolej), +90 312 458 0000. Boxy modern hotel, usually clean, some street noise. B&B double 1500 TL.
  • 6 Ramada, Tunalı Hilmi Cd 66, +90 312 428 8000. Functional central hotel, a bit worn. B&B double 1800 TL.
  • Radisson Blu, Istiklal Cd 20 (next to : Ulus), +90 312 310 4848. Good value hotel 500 m from railway station. B&B double 1500 TL.
  • Grand Mercure, Yaşam Cd 1 (west side of bus station), +90 312 999 0006. Next to bus station, but not the ideal flop after a long journey as they play loud music to 1 am. B&B double 1500 TL.
  • 7 Green Park Hotel, 1443rd Cd (block west of Mevlana Blv), +90 312 258 0000. Value-for-money hotel one km south of bus station, rooms kinda worn. B&B double 1500 TL.
  • Airport (ESB  IATA): the hotel within Esenboğa airport remains closed in 2023. Ibis is 1 km south, and Holiday Inn Express is a further km south.

Splurge

[edit]
Hacı Bayram Mosque
  • Ankara Hotel, Celal Bayar Blv 78 (within railway station), +90 312 508 1010. Opened in 2022, this is a smart convenient place within the YHT Gar, pity the sound-proofing is inadequate. B&B double 2000 TL.
  • Mövenpick Ankara, Yaşam Cd 1 (facing Mercure west side of bus station), +90 312 258 5800. Slick business hotel, the only gripe is street noise. B&B double 3000 TL.
  • 8 Sheraton Ankara, Şehit Ömer Haluk Sipahioğlu Sk (off Arjantin Cd), +90 312 457 6000. Good reviews for comfort and service at this hotel and convention centre, which towers like a monument above the south-side streets. B&B double 2500 TL.
  • Ankara HiltonSA, Tahran Cd 12 (200 m north of Sheraton), +90 312 455 0000. Good scores all round for this efficient friendly hotel. B&B double 2500 TL.
  • 9 Crowne Plaza Ankara, 171th Sk (next to Gimart shopping mall), +90 312 320 0000. Smart business hotel in IHG chain, clean and efficient. B&B double 3000 TL.

Stay safe

[edit]

Ankara is generally safe, even for single females at night, since as the capital it's well-policed. (The cops are looking for traffic offences, dissident trouble-makers and squaddies in town without a liberty pass.) Take usual care of valuables. The main hazard is traffic - vehicles are driven at silly speeds with scant regard to traffic lights and pedestrians. The side walks are often in poor condition: anyone with restricted mobility will be forced onto the roadway, and on ill-lit streets at night you risk falling into uncovered drains.

For emergencies call the national police number 155 or approach any officer or go to the nearest station. Ankara nominally has a tourist police section with multilingual staff, based at AŞTİ bus station. The covid slump in tourism saw them redeployed to other duties, but perhaps staffing will resume as tourism and related incidents increase.

Cope

[edit]

Embassies

[edit]
US Embassy lit in Ukrainian flag colors

Ankara is the national capital so most countries have an embassy or equivalent consular service. Most are in the southern districts of Kavaklıdere, Gaziosmanpaşa and Çankaya.

Diplomatic protest by Iran in 1918
Margot Fonteyn shmoozes at the British Embassy

Connect

[edit]

Ankara has 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Jan 2024, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next

[edit]
  • Northwest, Highway D140 follows an ancient trade and pilgrimage route from Baghdad to Ankara and Constantinople. Towns along it westbound are Ayaş, Beypazarı, Çayırhan and Nallıhan.
  • Kızılcahamam 80 km north has thermal springs amid forests — bears and wolves lurk in Soğuksu National Park.
  • Boğazkale northeast is the hub for visiting ancient Hattuşa, the capital of Hittites.
  • Çağırkan Japanese Gardens are 10 km past Kaman on the road southeast to Kırşehir.
  • South you pass Tuz Gölü ("Salt Lake") on the road to Aksaray.
  • Aksaray is a laid-back city and great base for the attractions near Güzelyurt.
  • Haymana 80 km southwest is a down-at-heel spa town with hot springs. Gavurkale and Kulhoyuk nearby have rock friezes and Hittite burial grounds.
  • Gordion (Yassıhöyük) is 96 km west, near Polatlı off the highway to Eskişehir. One of the most important ancient cities in Turkey, it had been home for Hittites, Phyrigians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans since 3000 BC. The remnants of the city are displayed in Gordion Museum and Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ulus.


Routes through Ankara
BursaPolatlı  W  S  → Junction (S) → AksarayAdana
Ends at (IstanbulW E) ← Gerede ←  N  S  END
Zonguldak ← Gökçebey ( E) ← Yeniçağa ( W / E) ←  N  S  AksarayTarsus
END  W  E  → Kırıkkale ( N / S) → Yozgat ( N) → Sivas
AfyonkarahisarPolatlı ← Haymana ←  W  E  HacıbektaşElazığ
IstanbulPolatlı  W  E  → Yozgat → Sivas
END  W Doğu Ekspresi (the Eastern Express) E  KayseriKars



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