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Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s Mausoleum

Last Updated on November 22, 2023

Anıtkabir, the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of the Turkish Republic, is not only a prominent structure of Ankara but also has great significance in the history of Turkey. Located in the center of Ankara about 2 km west of Kızılay along Gazi Mustafa Kemal Bulvarı, it's undoubtedly well worth a visit.

Who is Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

One of the most significant figures in the history of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the founder and first president of the Turkish Republic. 

Atatürk lived from 1881-1938, and had a great impact on the modernization of the Turkish Republic. Not only was he a great ruler but also was an excellent commander, which contributed enormously to the future domain of the Turkish Republic. His life, impacts, and contributions to this incredible country are worth a read. 

About Anıtkabir

Anıtkabir is the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or belief, should visit this incredible monument. Beholding an entire history, Anıtkabir reveals the stories and glorious victories of the Turkish Republic. 

The construction of the monument was even subject to international competition. Starting in 1944, it took 9 years to construct Anıtkabir. 

You enter the tomb complex between two square blocks and several stylized statues. Continue along a monumental avenue lined with neo-Hittite stone lion statues to reach the main courtyard.

As you climb the monumental staircase, you will note the giant inscriptions in gold on either side of the wall, those are 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.

The huge hall, lined in red marble, has simple mosaic decoration recalling the many ages and civilizations of Anatolia: Hittite, Hellenic, Roman, Seljuk, and Ottoman. Right in the center of the hall is a huge marble cenotaph cut from a single block of stone, beneath that is where Atatürk‘s actual tomb is. To discover Atatürk’s tomb you have to enter the museum lying at the eastern side of the monument.

Anıtkabir is the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or belief, should visit this incredible monument. Beholding an entire history, Anıtkabir reveals the stories and glorious victories of the Turkish Republic. 

The construction of the monument was even subject to international competition. Starting in 1944, it took 9 years to construct Anıtkabir. 

You enter the tomb complex between two square blocks and several stylized statues. Continue along a monumental avenue lined with neo-Hittite stone lion statues to reach the main courtyard.

Changing of Guards

One of the must-see things in Anıtkabir is the moment of the soldier’s switching guards. Every hour the soldiers change shifts, which is incredible to watch. So if you visit Anıtkabir don’t skip this detail and try to plan your visit to experience this moment. 

Museum 

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. Realistic portrayals of the war scenes, along with incredible paintings reflecting the incidents of that period will welcome you. 

One of the most fascinating parts of Anıtkabir is the room where Atatürk’s body lies. Secured by locked doors, 24/7 security, and camera control, it is impossible to enter the room. However, several screens are put in front of its door, reflecting the live view of the tomb. The tomb is surrounded by 81 brass vases, every one of them is filled with soil from the 81 provinces in Turkey. 

The tomb itself, on the other hand, is filled with soils collected from the 67 provinces that existed when Atatürk was the leader of the Turkish Republic. Apart from that, soil was also gathered from different locations, such as from the garden of the house he was born in Thessaloniki, from the cemetery where Turkish soldiers were buried in South Korea, and from the tomb of Süleyman Shah.   

No admission fee is needed to enter the museum.

Aslanlı Yol (Lion Road)

Another fascinating aspect of the Mausoleum complex is the Lion Road, which is a long path leading you to the main tomb, entirely lined up with lion sculptures. The 24 marble lion sculptures are representations of the 24 Oğuz tribes. Moreover, the most fascinating aspect of this path is the structure and spacing of the stones. You may not realize, but the spacing of the stones on the ground has a purpose. They are intentionally spaced with such a measurement that while walking on it, you need to watch your steps. The reason is that while watching your steps you have to look down in order not to stumble. Walking with your head slightly tilted forward is a sign of respect as we all know, so by doing so you walk in respect towards the tomb of Atatürk.

Cenotaph of İsmet İnönü

On the right, as you enter the courtyard, is the cenotaph of General Ismet Inönü beneath the western colonnade. Ismet Inönü, a 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.

When to Visit

Anıtkabir is open to visitors every day from 09:00 am to 5:00 pm. The museum closes for lunch from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm.

The best time to visit Anıtkabir is on the death anniversary of Atatürk, which is November 10th. People from all around the country come to visit Atatürk’s mausoleum on that day, so it is extremely crowded but worth seeing. 

How To Get There

To get to Anıtkabir, you can use the Ankaray to the Tandoğan station and walk uphill for a mile (1.5 km, 20 minutes). 

You can also grab a taxi which is the easiest way to get there. 

by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Julide Koca

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