If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Turkey you may be tempted to take the well-trodden path to Istanbul. It’s an amazing city, and the biggest in Turkey, but if you fancy something a bit different – a city that represents the best of old and new Turkey – then why not try a cultural break in Ankara?
I love the modern energy that runs through Ankara – it infuses everything in the city with extra vigor, including cultural landscape. Ankara is home to both the Turkish State Opera and Ballet and the Turkish State Theatre. Both of these institutions operate several stages throughout the city, guaranteeing that high quality, culturally distinct performances are never far away.
If you are tempted by the thought of a break in Ankara, here are some of the cultural highlights that you could take advantage of while staying in an Ankara hotel. Read on to see what delights await.
Ancient Artifacts and Stimulating Histories
Turkey is rightly proud of its long and interesting history and this is evident in the significant archaeological sites, and world-class museums that are littered through Ankara.
The remnants of ancient civilizations can be found in the ruins of the castle which crowns the city, while Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine architecture is also evident throughout the city. Head to the Temple of Augustus and Rome for one of the most remarkable locations – it’s also known as the Monumentum Ancyranum and you’ll find it near Ulus Square, like many other ancient sites.
To learn about one of the most important figures in Turkish history head to the imposing Anitkabir, or Atatürk’s Mausoleum which sits atop a hill west of Kizilay in the center of the city. Atatürk was the man who forged modern Turkey, creating the republic and serving as its first president. He was also the man who decided it was Istanbul not Constantinople.
The mausoleum is a fitting tribute to the determination and iron will of the man. The huge building is designed to strike visitors with awe and it certainly does that. As you walk through the courtyards and halls of the structure you’ll realize how important the man was, and how great his achievements were. The mausoleum also contains a small museum where you can learn more about the great man himself.
Since the Turkish National Theatre organization, known locally as Devtiyatro, was founded in 1949 it has grown to become the biggest professional theater in Europe and runs stages all across Ankara. Check the schedule and you’ll doubtless find great performances at some of the stages in Ankara during your stay.
In addition to the wealth of state theater available, several private theater companies run performances throughout the year in Ankara – and in November stages throughout the whole city will come to life during the Theatre Festival.
As I mentioned earlier, Ankara is home to the Turkish State Opera and through the winter season numerous shows are performed in the city, showcasing the considerable local talent. This is just the tip of the cultural iceberg though and you’ll find that there are many musical highlights to be found.
Some of the best classical performances can be found at the Presidential Symphony Orchestra Hall where from October to May performances are held twice a week. These concerts are almost always sell-outs so make sure you book you tickets well in advance.
For contemporary music, with a Turkish twist, visit Ankara in May and June during the Annual Spring Festival in the ODTU Stadium. Be prepared to enjoy an exciting atmosphere and some pop music like you’ve never heard before!