The Anıtkabir (Monumental Tomb), crowning a prominent hill in the center of Ankara about two km west of Kızılay along Gazi Mustafa Kemal Bulvarı (map), is the Mausoleum of Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of the Turkish Republic. It’s well worth a visit.
You enter the tomb complex between two square kiosks and several stylized statues. The kiosk on the right shelters a model of the Anitkabir complex and photos taken during its construction.
Continue along a monumental avenue lined with neo-Hittite stone lion statues to reach the main courtyard.
On the right as you enter the courtyard is the cenotaph of General Ismet Inönü beneath the western colonnade. Inönü (EE-ner-new), victorious general in the battle of that name during Turkey’s War of Independence, was Kemal Atatürk’s friend, comrade in arms, chief of staff, diplomat, prime minister and second president of the Turkish Republic.
Opposite the Inönü cenotaph is the Anıtkabir itself, simple and timeless in style but grand and imposing. High-stepping guards parade before it.
As you climb the monumental staircase to enter, note the inscriptions in gold on either side, excerpts from Atatürk‘s speech given on the 10th anniversary (1932) of the republic’s proclamation.
You enter the mausoleum through huge brass doors, removing your hat out of respect (a guard will remind you if you forget to do so).
Before you on the north side is a huge marble cenotaphcut from a single block of stone. Atatürk‘s actual tomb is beneath it.
On the east side of the courtyard, a museum holds personal effects and memorabilia of Atatürk, as well as several of his official automobiles. A multimedia show about his life will fill you in on this most important period in Turkish history.
The Anıtkabir is open every day from 09:00 am to 17:00 (5 pm, till 16:00/4 pm in winter). The museum closes for lunch from 12:00 noon to 13:00 (1 pm). Admission is free.
—by Tom Brosnahan
|Museum of Anatolian Civilisations|