Mixing Modern and Medieval in Ankara's Architectural Attractions

Mixing Modern and Medieval in Ankara Architectural Attractions

Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, offers a surprising blend of architectural influences, with medieval sites rubbing shoulders with contemporary buildings. As the country's second-largest city after Istanbul, Ankara has experienced rapid development over the past century, resulting in a fusion of old and new.

Getting to Ankara

Ankara is accessible by air via Ankara EsenboฤŸa Airport (ESB), which connects to Istanbul and other major Turkish cities. High-speed trains also run frequent services to Ankara from Istanbul, Konya, and other transport hubs. Buses take slightly longer but provide an affordable option for reaching the capital from locations across Turkey. Once in the city, an integrated metro and bus network makes getting around straightforward.

Once you have arrived in Ankara, it’s time to begin exploring the city’s many architectural attractions.

Exploring the Ancient Ankara Citadel

The Ankara Citadel is the perfect place to witness the city’s medieval roots. This ancient area dates back over two thousand years and still contains remnants of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture behind crumbling stone walls. Walking along these fortress-like battlements transports you back centuries as you gaze upon old mosques, baths, and even gravestones inscribed with Greek and Latin scrawled alongside more modern Turkish script.

Make time to see sites like the Temple of Augustus and Rome that exemplify Ankara’s ancient foundations. Plan your visit early in the day, as the Citadel is one of the most popular tourist attactions in Ankara, and can get busy as the day progresses.

Wandering Through Ottoman Influences

Beyond the Citadel’s walls and fortifications, much of inner-city Ankara still resonates with Ottoman designs from the 15th-19th centuries. Meandering past intricate wooden houses and stone religious complexes transports visitors back to imperial Turkey before its dissolution.

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is set in two Ottoman buildings close to Ankara Castle, and is a must-see attraction located right near Ankara's old citadel. This modern museum contains a fascinating collection of artifacts spanning thousands of years of history across Anatolia. Highlights include rare Hittite and Phrygian objects, intricate metallic wares, and jewelry, as well as medieval stonework. Ascending through the museum reveals the progression of tools and culture all the way from the Palaeolithic era to great empires like those of the Romans, Byzantines and Seljuks.

Well-displayed with clear explanations in English and Turkish, a visit here provides insight into the diverse peoples and kingdoms that shaped the Anatolian region from antiquity onwards through the Ottoman period into the 20th century emergence of modern Turkey. It's an intriguing introduction to the civilizations that combined to create Ankara and the nation it now represents.

Contrasts with Contemporary Constructions

Despite its age-old past, Ankara also presents some strikingly modern buildings that sharply contrast older influences. Wandering central districts like Kizilay and Kavaklidere reveals contemporary condos and office blocks that match anything across Europe. Changing architectural styles here reflect Turkey’s ambitions as a rising regional power carving out an identity balanced between West and East.

Constructions like the vast new Presidential Complex and Parliament Building purposefully intimidate with sharp lines and sheer scale. Likewise, Ankara’s Central Station looks sublimely space-age against more modest surroundings.

This blend between medieval fortresses and modern minimalism creates a unique tension at the heart of Ankara’s cityscape. Wandering historic alleyways before emerging suddenly amongst towering glass facades makes for an intriguing visit showcasing influences old and new. The capital may lack Istanbul’s overwhelming popularity but instead provides an authentic glimpse into Turkey’s multifaceted architectural soul.


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