Things to Do in Ankara
Crowning a hill above Ankara, the Atatürk Mausoleum (Anıtkabir) is a modern mausoleum and complex holding the tomb of Turkey’s founder—Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who died in 1938. Built between 1944 and 1953, the complex draws thousands of Turkish nationals and other visitors who come to honor the much-revered leader.
Ranked as one of Turkey’s best museums, Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a must-see for visitors to the country’s capital. Housed in what was once a 15th-century bazaar building, the museum charts the civilizations of Turkey’s central Anatolia region, all the way from the Palaeolithic to the Lydian period of the 6th century BC.
On a hilltop overlooking Ankara Old Town, Ankara Castle (Ankara Kalesi), also known as Ankara Citadel (Hisar), is the city’s most imposing landmark. Framed by 7th- and 9th-century fortifications, its lanes are flanked by Ottoman houses and wood-beamed restaurants and topped by ramparts offering spectacular city views.
Located deep in Turkey’s Anatolia region, Hattusa (also written Hattusha, Hattuşaş, or Hattusas) is one of the country’s biggest archaeological sites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During its pomp in the second millennium BC, Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire, wielding power across Anatolia and beyond. Its ruins coat a large hillside and include temples, fortifications, gates, and statues.
Topped by a globe-shaped viewing platform and upper spire that reaches a height of 410 feet (125 meters), the Atakule is a 1989-built communications and observation tower in central Ankara. One of the city’s most prominent landmarks, it rises from a shopping mall in the Cankaya district and commands 360-degree views over Turkey’s capital.
Constructed in 25 BC after the Romans conquered what is now Anatolia—the central region of today’s Turkey—the marble Temple of Augustus and Rome stands in central Ankara. With only two walls and a doorway still intact, the site is mostly in ruins but prized for its Roman-era inscriptions, which chart the deeds of the Roman emperor Augustus.
Built in 1290, Aslanhane Mosque (Aslanhane Camii) is Ankara’s oldest mosque. Located just beneath Ankara Castle in the city’s old town, Aslanhane is sometimes called the “Lion’s Den” or Ahi Serafettin Mosque. It’s open to visitors who want to view its beautiful stone-and-wood architecture.