The seat of Turkey's government in the strategic heart of central Anatolia, Ankara is the city selected by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the republic's founder, to house the capital of the newly politically defined country. Though thoroughly modern in appearance Ankara's history and that of the surrounding area dates back to the Bronze Age and the Hatti civilisation. In the second millennium B.C. the Hittites followed as lords of the land and were succeeded in turn by the Phrygians, Lydians and Persians. In the third century B.C., the Galatians, a Celtic race, made Ankara their capital. It was then known as Ancyra, meaning anchor. The Romans and then the Byzantines held this strategic expanse of land until 1073 when the Seljuk Turks commanded by Alpaslan conquered it. Just over three centuries later in 1402, the city, then but a small outpost, passed into the hands of the Ottomans led by Beyazıt I.

After the first World War, Ankara assumed a prominent position at the center of Atatürk's national resistance, and the War of Independence that liberated the Turkish homeland from the domination of foreign powers. On the 13th of October, 1923, Ankara was declared the capital of the new Republic of Turkey. Dominating the modern part of the city, much of it constructed since AnıtkabirAnkara's rise to prominence, is the imposing limestone Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Completed in 1953, this fusion of ancient and modern architectural concepts testifies to the power and grace of Turkish architecture. A museum at Anıtkabir displays some of Atatürk's personal items and documents. His house in Çankaya, next to the Presidential Palace, is open on Sunday afternoons. The oldest parts of the city surround the ancient hisar or citadel. Within the walls, the 12th century Alaeddin Mosque although much rebuilt by the Ottomans, still boasts fine Seljuk woodwork. Many interesting traditional Turkish houses have been restored in the area, and some have found new life as art galleries or attractive restaurants serving local dishes. Close to the gate, Hisar Kapısı, the beautifully restored bedestan (covered bazaar), houses the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations with its priceless collection of Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite; Phrygian; Urartian and Roman artifacts. It is open every day except Monday.

Outside the citadel the 13th century Arslanhane Mosque and the 14th century Ahi Elvan Mosque are worth visiting. The legacy of Roman times - the third century A.D. public baths, the fourth century Julian Column and the second century Corinthian style, Temple of Augustus - is all located in an area below the citadel, near Ulus Meydanı (Nation Square). The sole surviving "Political Testament of Augustus", a statement detailing the achievements of the Emperor Augustus, remains inscribed on the wall of his temple in Ankara. At one time every temple dedicated to him throughout the Roman Empire bore this document; this is the only complete copy in existence today. In the fifth century the Byzantines converted the temple into a church.

Near the citadel excavations of a Roman theatre continue. In the same vicinity stands the 15th century Mosque and Mausoleum of Hacı Bayram.Atakule Tower

From Ulus Meydanı, with its equestrian statue of Atatürk, continue down Atatürk Boulevard to the Ethnographical Museum which houses magnificent Seljuk doors of carved wood, and other artifacts of daily life. Nearby the Sculpture and Painting Museum illustrates the history of the Turkish fine arts. The biggest mosque in Ankara graces the Kocatepe quarter. Kocatepe Mosque was built between 1976 and 1987, and is in the Ottoman architectural style. Ankara has an active artistic and cultural life with world class performances of ballet, theatre, opera and folk dancing. The city is especially well-known for its Philharmonic Orchestra which attracts a loyal following. Ankara hosts two international festivals in April: "The Arts and Music Festival", and the world-famous "April 23rd International Children's Festival".

Visitors to the city usually like to browse through the old shops in Cikrikcilar Yokusu near Ulus. On the street of coppersmiths, Bakircilar Carsisi, you can find many interesting old and new items, not only of copper but jewellery, carpets, costumes, antiquities and embroidery. A walk up the hill to the Citadel Gate takes you past many interesting stalls and vendors selling spices, dried fruits, nuts and all manner of produce. Modern shopping areas are mostly found in Kızılay, on Tunalı Hilmi Avenue and in the recently completed Atakule Tower in Çankaya. The top of Atakule, at 125 meters, offers a magnificent view over the whole city. Its excellent revolving restaurant allows you to enjoy the complete view in a leisurely fashion. In the new Karum shopping mall, in Kavaklıdere, some of Turkey's most chic clothing stores tempt the passer-by.