The Citadel (Hisar), Ankara

Last Updated on May 7, 2019

You can spot Ankara‘s lofty Citadel (Hisar, Kale) from any point in the city with a clear view (map). This was the original town, with foundations no doubt dating to Hittitetimes about 3000 years ago.

The outer walls you see now were built in the 800s by the Byzantine emperor Michael II. The inner keep (iç kale)walls survive from the 600s.

You enter from an irregular plaza on which you’ll find the Çengel Han Rahmi M Koç Museum, and Gözcu Sokak going west downhill to the nearby Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. and, in the other direction, to the Ahi Serafettin Mosque and Tomb (Arslanhane Camii,1290).

Enter the Hisar through the Finger Gate (Parmak Kapısı), also called the Clock Gate (Saatli Kapı) because of the public clock on the white octagonal tower. After passing through the portal, note a good restaurant, the Zenger Pasa Konağı, on the left just beyond the small plaza.

The area within the walls, surprisingly, is a Turkish village—right here in the very heart of Turkey’s sprawling modern capital city. Not much has changed in the Citadel for centuries.

Marble Fragments in Citadel Walls, Ankara, Turkey
Bits of old marble sarcophagi or fountains incorporated into the walls.

Walk straight from the gate up Kalekapısı Sokak to reach the Asmalı Restaurant, the Angora House Hotel, and the Kınacı Restaurant. Opposite the Kınacı Restaurant, note the row of marble sarcophagi or fountains, column drums, and bits of other ancient stonework (some inscribed) that were incorporated into the keep walls by later builders.

Walk up past the Kınacı Restaurant and turn left to enter the stone tower (the one with the bits of sarcophagus in its walls). If the And Café is open, climb up to its terraceat the top of the tower for spectacular views of the northern parts of Ankara.

The small mosque in the Citadel, the Sultan Alaaddin Camii, was originally built in 1178, but has been repaired and restored many times since.

Keep walking ever upward to a flight of concrete stairs leading to the Şark Kulesi (SHARK koo-leh-see, Eastern Tower), from which there is a panoramic view of the Turkish capital, as there is also from the Ak Kale (AHK kah-leh, White Fortress), the northern tower in the walls.

Along with your visit to the Citadel you should plan a visit to the nearby Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, and also perhaps to the Çengel Han Rahmi M Koç Museumand the Ahi Serafettin Mosque (Aslanhane Camii,1290).

—by Tom Brosnahan

Museum of Anatolian Civilisations

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