Though the city is thorougly modem in appearance, its origins date back to a Hittite settlement in the 2nd millennium BC. In the 8th century BC the Phrygians established a city they called Ancyra on the same site and five centuries later the Galatians made Ancyra their capital. It was not until after the first world war that Ankara was thrust suddenly into the forefront of history when Atatiirk made it the center of the Turkish national resistance that liberated the Turkish homeland from occupying foreign armies after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in that great conflict.
On 13 October 1923, Ankara was declared the capital of a new and independent Turkey. Dominating the modem part of the city is the imposing limestone mausoleum called Anitkabir in which Atatiirk is buried. Completed in 1953, the structure is a sublime fusion of ancient and modern architectural concepts. Atatiirk’s house is in Cankaya near the modern-day presidential residence and is a museum.
The oldest part of the city lies in and around the medieval citadel, the area to which pre-republican Ankara was all but confined. Inside the walls of the fortress is Alaeddin Mosque, a work from the Seljuk period. Close to the main gate is a beautifully restored covered bazaar that now houses the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and its pricelessly unique collection of Anatolian art extending back into the mists of the Paleolithic dawn of mankind.
Outside the citadel is 13th-century Arslanhane Mosque, 14th-century Ahievran Mosque, and 16th-century Yeni Mosque. Beneath the citadel around Ulus Square are some traces of Roman occupation including public baths, the Column of Justinian, and the Temple of Augustus beside the 15th-century Haci Bayram Mosque. From Ulus you can walk down Atatiirk Boulevard to the Ethnographic Museum nearby which is an excellent Museum of fine Arts. Ankara is also a center of ballet, opera, theatrical, and philharmonic performances.
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