Capital of the Republic of Turkey, Ankara is today one of the country’s most modern cities and a vibrant world metropolis that offers a diverse variety of leisure time activities as well as being steeped in both history and tradition.
On a hill to the north is the largest and most splendid mosque in Turkey, Kocatepe Camii. Between 1967 and 1988 the imposing tower was constructed with the help of private donations. It is a replica of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, has four minarets, and accommodates around twenty thousand worshippers.
Ankara’s old town is overlooked by a castle mound upon which the city’s citadel extends above the pinnacle. The city’s oldest settlement area is surrounded by one of the mighty castle walls and dates back to the time of the Hittites. The slope of the hill in front of the citadel is completely covered with Gecekondus, a mass of quickly-constructed buildings which at first only consisted of walls and a roof. They are unique buildings and many of those who reside in them originate from the region of the same name.
There is a splendid zoo in the western outskirts of the city which, as with many of the city’s parks, originated in the early years of the Republic. Atatürk believed that parks and leisure areas in general were essential to the good health of the nation and hence of the new national capital.
Ankara, Turkey’s capital city, is full of contradictions and yet it is the extraordinary charm of this remarkable metropolis that makes everything make sense.