Thursday, 20 September 2012


Welcome to Ankara! To know a city passes through sharing its secrets.... Let's see what this town will tell you about itself? First it wishes to tell its legends. Maybe, sweeping you to a fairy tale world. Tell you how splendiferous a life it as lived although you call it a step today. Wishing to show you its 1001 face through a looking glass. If you are ready to listen, let's have a journey to history.

Ankara's history dates back to Bronze Age. Small palace remaining of Bronze Age found on the digs at the southwest of the city, Ahlatlıbel and Koçumbeli, shows us the existence of small principalities during prehistoric period. Later Ankara and environ seized by Hittites and Phrygians. The most favorite legend about the city is about the origin of the name Ankara. It's presumed the name comes from the word "Anchor". According to legend, Phrygian King Midas hears a voice on his dream: "Find a big anchor on your land and build a big city there. That city will bring you happiness and prosperity". He ordered his men to find this anchor and many days later it is found at a hill where Ankara Kalesi stands today. Midas immediately builds a city there and names it Ankyra. Between B.C. 750-500 Ankara has been an important center for Phrygians and various works of that period found on diggings are now being exhibited at Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi (Museum of Anatolian Civilizations).

After Phrygians the city has been under the sovereignty of Macedonian King Alexander the Great and has again an important trade center. After his death the city was the capital of Kelts (Galats) who have been migrated from Europe to Anatolia in three wings. Another legend of Ankara of that period: When Galats beat the Egyptian fleet on the Mediterranean; they have brought back the anchors of those ships as the symbol of their victory and placed them to the temples.

From then on they call the city Angora. Probably Galatians were longing for sea and filled their temples with anchors. Who knows maybe this is the reason of people of this town missing the sea so much and running to seashore in summer.
Galatians were worshiping the God Men and Goddess Cybele. When Roman Emperor Augustus had Galatians under Roman sovereignty Ankyra or Angora had been the capital of Roman State Galat. Then in homage to Augustus the name of the town has been converted to "Sebaste" (Respected) and Augustus had built a temple to his name: Augustus Tapınağı. Ankyra showed a very fast development and became an important military base where the emperors and armies rest during the eastern wars. The city had its gorgeous period in the 2nd century A.D. by expanding its borders from the Castle to today's Kızılay.
This development had reached a stop due to the Roman Empire's circumstances and a period of chaos dominated the city. Later, with the spread of Christianity in the mid-4th century Ankyra became an important religious center.

Two council meetings took place in 314 and 358 and ecclesiastics took important decisions. Emperor Julianus stayed there and had new laws to strengthen the city management. When the Roman Empire was divided in 395 the city became a part of East Roman Empire. Beginning from the 7th century Arabian attacks ruined Ankara Kalesi several times and restored by Roman Emperors. And then Ankyra under the sovereignty of Byzantine Empire had a calmer period until 11th century.
When Seljuk Sultan Alparslan beat the Byzantine army in Malazgirt on 1071 Ankara has been seized by Turks first as a city of Seljuk Empire then Danişment Domain. The name of the city was converted to Engürü meaning "Grape City" in Persian. During the Crusaders the town has again been seized by Byzantine and had been an eastern border castle of the Empire for a while. In 1169 when Kılıçarslan had the city and ensured Anatolian Seljuk Unity. Later the city has been under the Mogul invasion and at last had been a city of Ottoman Empire in 1356 and Ankara was the field of Ankara War in 1402 between Timur and Sultan Yıldırım Bayezit that was ended with the defeat of Ottoman army. During the period Timur's withdrawal from Anatolia the governance has been changed for a few times more. Now let's hear a legend: What is the origin of the word "Anatolia", as we call Anadolu. After the defeat Yıldırım Beyazıt's army began to withdraw and arrived a village. A very old woman has met the army and prepared ayran for the tired soldiers. They quaffed the never-finishing ayran and as the soldiers hold out their cups the ayran bowl was filling again. The old woman was wandering among the soldiers and filling their cups continuously and the soldiers call her "Ana Dolu" (Mother, Full). Well, this is the origin of the name Anadolu.
State organization was founded as a result of Ottoman Empire's expanding and Ankara has been the center of Anatolia State. The most important income source of the city was the trade of "mohair" and cloths made of mohair and leather. The fame of Ankara goat has already passed over the borders and has been a favorite fabric. The goat statutes decorating the parks and gardens of today's Ankara emphasize their importance. Although you cannot come across one single vineyard, Ankara was full of vineyards those days. However it is worth to mention Kalecik and Kalecik Karası brand wine of environ Ankara at least for the sake of yesterday's Ankara and "Engürü" meaning Grape Town!
Ankara has been visited by various European travelers. An oil painting of Ankara of an unknown 17th century artist is still being exhibited in Rijks museum in Amsterdam. Don't miss to drop if you pass by Amsterdam.

Following World War I, Ankara became a center that Atatürk gave great importance. After the independence war Ankara has been the capital of the new Republic of Turkey and developed fast since then.