Ankara and Ataturk

Trip Start Feb 01, 2008
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ankara, Turkey's capital is a real international city with a modern air of sophistication.  The streets are wide open and brimming with cafes.  It was here where Ataturk (considered to be the Father of modern Turkey) set up his base of operations back in the 1920's and after the war of independence he declared Ankara the new capital. 

The Turks have a huge devotion to Ataturk believing that the Turkish state is a result of his energy and vision: that without him there would be no Turkey! And this devotion is evident everywhere in the entire country...his image is on stamps and bank notes, there are many, many statues, and his name is everywhere.  Kids can recite facts about his life and achievements and it is even illegal to say anything about him that might be construed as insulting.

Of course here in Ankara, he is anywhere and everywhere.  The main street is named Ataturk Bulvari, there is a large statue of him in the main square, and his monumental mausoleum is here too.  It gives you a good idea of how much the people adored him. 

As you approach the tomb there are two towers with information about the building of the tomb and photos of his funeral.  Then there is a massive courtyard, framed by colonnaded walkways and within this are the museum rooms that display Ataturk memorabilia, personal effects, and official automobiles.  Then you get to an enormous marble cenotaph, cut from a single piece of stone and weighing 40 tons.  I guess the actual tomb is in a chamber beneath it.

Then there is the requisite gift shop which has Ataturk posters, plates, ties and height charts?  Just what you always wanted to bring home from your trip to Turkey...

But Ankara is also home to the Museum of Anatolian Civilization which is the perfect place to try to sort out the complex weave of Turkey's ancient has artefacts from just about every archaeological site in Anatolia.  We will spend today at the Museum and report back later!
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