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Ankara Castle: the lower part
From Şark Kulesi, turn left and you soon exit the upper castle through the southern gate Güney Kapı. This takes you into the more sanitized and gentrified part of the castle, a place where the restored boutique hotels and expensive restaurants have started to penetrate, and there's clearly a lot of work going on here. The road begins to descend quite rapidly, and you soon reach another gate with some souvenir shops around it.
A local tourist group were slowly making their way down this narrow street and met a group of children returning from school going in the opposite direction. Out came the cameras, and soon there was a bit of a traffic jam as neither group could get past the other, and a couple of scooters came along to add to the mayhem. I somehow ended up stuck in the middle, and am probably in quite a few of the tourists' photos.
Through the gate, topped with an Ottoman clocktower, you can continue through another old neighbourhood filled with souvenir shops, but before you do, take a detour to the right along the castle walls, to a little fruit and vegetable market, which added a bit of colour to a very grey day.
Ankara Castle: Şark Kulesi
Şark Kulesi (East Tower) is a good place to head for. When the dilapidated streets of the upper castle become a bit more ordered and clean, you start to enter the more touristy half of the castle district. Women sit on steps leading to the tower selling handmade jewellery, and I counted three groups of local tourists being led up here.
The tower itself isn't much to look at architecturally, the highlight probably a bit of graffiti on one of the interior walls saying "Will you marry me?" in Turkish, and there was a queue of girls posing for photos by this. Climb the steps to the higher parts of the tower, and if you've a head for heights, the views are spectacular in all directions. Or at least they would be on a clear day....in the haze, they were still great, but not all of Ankara was visible that day.
OK, Ankara castle isn't merely a castle, it's a village inside a set of walls inside another set of walls, all perched on a crag high above modern Ankara. For me it was one of the more interesting areas of the capital, partly because it gave a sense of history that is quite hard to see in the rest of the city, with Ottoman era houses in various states of dilapidation.
Again, the city authorities are working on building projects, so the main road up tot he castle has been taken up and is currently in a real mess. The park within the first set of walls is also undergoing some work, muddy paths being paved, and steps repaired, which all means that many of the stunning vistas are blocked off with metal fences for now.
After the long climb up through the park, you enter the Hisar proper and find yourself in what seems like an Anatolian village, the last thing you expect in a national capital's prime tourist spot. Twisting alleyways take you past rundown and ramshackle old houses, some leaning over so much they look to be on the verge of collapse. If Ankara was a touristy city, I'm sure the inhabitants would have been shipped off to a housing estate on the edge of town, and their houses turned into expensive boutique hotels and posh restaurants. I'm quite glad that hasn't happened....yet.
Ak Kale, a tower on the highest point, is supposed to have amazing views over the gecekondu mahalleler (slum areas) on the opposite hillside, but sadly it is fenced off at the moment. You can still get similar views by ducking under some fences in the park below...the workers busy repaving the pathways didn't seem to mind a camera-toting intruder. Unfortunately, it was so hazy I didn't get many good photos.
Inside the castle an old village!
I loved walking inside the castle of Ankara. The old town inside was a big surprise for me, I noticed many buildings that looked like some building I saw in North Greece (the old town of Ioannina for exable) and elsewhere in the Balkans. So picturesque...
The castle has two walls with a great gap of 200 between them! The inner wall was built in 7th century but the exterior wall was build on 9th century by the emperor Michail the Second. You will easily find the central gate because of the tower with the clock. Because of the clock is called Saatli Kapi (gate with clock). I noticed a small but not impressive mosque inside the castle that was built back in the 12th century.
I didn’t have time to visit any of the Turkish restaurants that now are in renovating beautiful old buildings but I enjoyed the view from several parts of the castle (pics 2&4). You can see the modern city but also some really old houses near the castle. The best views are from the eastern tower of the castle.
The locals inside the castle seemed really relaxed, the little children played around, the old women were selling cheap souvenirs, lovely place to spend an hour. I hardly noticed 2 or 3 other tourists.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Old city, old houses, Anatolian civilization museum worth to see in this area.
The inner walls of the castle have 42 towers. Only a few scattered traces remain of the outer walls with their 20 towers.The citadel changed hands time after time throughout its history, and was successively razed and repaired again. When the ancient land of Galatia was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 25 BC Ankara became a Roman stronghold of strategic importance. It continued to be a prominent military garrison under the Byzantines of the Eastern Roman Empire. Lying on the ancient King's Road, Ankara was also of key commercial importance. It was in the path of the Persians, Arab and Sassanid invasions, and of the many tribes which migrated into Anatolia. When Alexander the Great took Gordion to the west he detoured through Ankara before proceeding on his march of conquest. During Byzantine times the Arab leader Haroun Reshid and in late Ottoman times the rebel viceroy of Egypt Mehmet Ali Pasa made unsuccessful efforts to capture the city and its castle. When the Turkish Sultan Beyazit I lost the Battle of Ankara in 1402, he was imprisoned in Ankara Castle by Timur for several weeks.There are conflicting views about when the castle walls were originally built and to which era the surviving walls belong, but in design at least the inner walls are typical of Byzantine fortifications. There has been a settlement here since Hittite times, and probably a fortress here since the town was first founded. Archaeologists have discovered many remains dating from the pre-Roman period, particularly in and around the castle, although the walls themselves date back no earlier than the Roman period.
Under the Romans Ankara expanded beyond the inner walls downhill towards the plain, in the form of an open city similar to the ancient Greek city states, but subsequently the outer walls were constructed as protection against the Persians and Arabs. Only the names of the city gates, named after the major cities to which each road out of the city led remind us of the existence of these walls. Nothing remains but the stone inscriptions of the Temple of Zeus, the large theatre where the Dionysian revels were held, the gymnasium, hippodrome, agora and other buildings inside the castle, which have all disappeared with the exception of the Temple of Augustus. The Church of St Clement, which is even older than Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, is completely in ruins.
Those parts of the inner walls left standing by invaders and three great fires at the turn of this century conceal their history in their stones. The area within the castle walls became densely packed with houses during Ottoman times, particularly from the 16th century onwards, and today this area of old wooden houses and narrow streets is a conservation area. After Ankara was proclaimed the Turkish capital in 1923 the heart of the city moved away, leaving the old city in and around the castle a neglected backwater. Now however the area it is becoming a centre of cultural and social life once more, as the old houses are restored and the streets cleaned up and repaired. The historic interest of this area, heightened still further by the presence of the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, attract tourists and local people alike.
The hold houses in Ankara Citadel are being restored and turned into restaurants and hotels
When you visit Ankara next make sure that you climb the south walls, which on a clear day offer the finest view over the city. And if you are there on a cloudless night the way the stars in the high dome of the sky seem to intermingle on the horizon with the lights of the city is a sight not to be missed. Distant music and other sounds of modern city life waft up to the ancient walls whose stones have seen so many changes over two millenia.
(From Fevziye Sayilan is a lecturer at Gazi University)
Visit Ankara Castle
Ankara Castle is one of the symbols of Ankara. It is argued to be constructed by Romans or by Galats. In any case, it is certain that the castle has been watching the city for very many centuries.
At the first glance the castle and environment does not look very attractive. Many of the buildings in the castle habitated by poor families and they are under bad condition. However, this place is full of hisory and there are lots of things to do in the castle and around it. Those old houses are being restored one by one and they are turning into touristic places. There are nice restaurants in the castle as well as nice cafes (i recommend Arzu Cafe) which you can enjoy the city view and drink tea-coffee. The Rahmi Koc Industry Museum and the Anatolian Civiliazation Museum (which is must-see place in Ankara) is at walking distance to the castle. If you enjoy antiques and old-objects you can enjoy Pirinc Han very much. There are Seljuk Mosques very close to the castle. Just in front of the entrance of the castle, you will see stalls of dry fruit-nuts sellers...If you walk around you can find the shops of many artizans. It is possible to sense the city life of at least 20-30 years ago due to those old shops...
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Ankara Castle is the best...
Ankara Castle is the best place. It has a historical background going back to ottoman empire. An near it there is Civilization Museum that is the only one in the world showing the ancient civilizations of the anotolian region.
There are historical Turkish houses there. And You can enjoy there at a reasonable price. there are lots of reataurants, shopping centres there where you can find unique antique goods.
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Ankara Travel Guide
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