Ankara, Turkey's capital city, is important to diplomats, bureaucrats, lobbyists and military, and has a few significant sights for visitors.
Before the Turkish War of Independence brought Kemal Atatürk and his generals to Ankara as a wartime command post, this Central Anatolian town 454 km (282 miles) southeast of Istanbul (map) was a small town with a Roman citadel on a high hill and a brisk trade in soft Angora goat hair and the garments made from it.
After Atatürk proclaimed Ankara to be the capital of the new Turkish Republic, it began to grow. After WWII, a constant influx of villagers from the countryside in search of a better life brought Ankara explosive growth.
Today this city at an altitude of 848 meters (2782 feet) is a sprawling metropolis of five million people, many of them employed in government ministries and embassies, in universities and schools, in hospitals and medical centres, the military, and some in light industry on the outskirts.
The city now sprawls through valleys and across hills in every direction, but on your visit you need only be concerned with a few specific areas.
Ankara's several interesting sights such as the citadel, Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, Anıtkabir (AtatürkMausoleum) and Roman ruins, can fully occupy you for a day, but if your itinerary is rushed, spending half a day here may suffice. More...
If you don't want to bother finding your way around, consider joining a half-day city tour.
Ankara can also be your base, or starting point, for visits to other points of interest in Central Anatolia. Excursions run from Ankara east to the Hittite capital of Boğazkale (Hattuşa-Yazılıkaya) and the historic town of Amasya, north to the fine historic town of Safranbolu, and south to Cappadocia (maps).
Centrally located, Ankara is a transportation nexus for all of Turkey's bus, train, plane and highway routes. More...
Ankara has plenty of good hotels and restaurants, of course, but again, you need be concerned with only a few for a one-night visit. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan