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Information about Ankara

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Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after İstanbul. The city has a mean elevation of 850 m (2800 ft), and as of 2007 the city had a population of 3,901,201, which includes eight districts under the city's administration.

Ankara also serves as the capital of the Province of Ankara. As with many ancient cities, Ankara has gone by several names over the ages: The Hittites gave it the name Ankuwash before 1200 BC.The Galatians and Romans called it Ancyra. In the classical, Hellenistic, and Byzantine periods it was known as Ἄγκυρα Ánkyra. It was also known as Angora after it fell to the Seljuks in 1073, and was so known up until 1930. Centrally located in Anatolia, Ankara is an important commercial and industrial city. It is the center of the Turkish Government, and houses all foreign embassies. It is an important crossroads of trade, strategically located at the center of Turkey's highway and railway networks, and serves as the marketing center for the surrounding agricultural area. The city was famous for its long-haired Angora goat and its prized wool (mohair), a unique breed of cat (Angora cat), white rabbits and their prized wool (Angora wool), pears, honey, and the region's muscat grapes. Ankara is situated upon a steep and rocky hill, which rises 150 m above the plain on the left bank of the Enguri Su, a tributary of the Sakarya (Sangarius) river. 

Ankara is one of the driest places in Turkey and is surrounded by a barren steppe vegetation, with various Hittite, Phrygian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman archaeological sites. It has a harsh, dry continental climate with cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. Rainfall occurs mostly during the spring and autumn. The hill which overlooks the city is crowned by the ruins of the old castle, which adds to the picturesqueness of the view, but only a few historic structures surrounding the old citadel have survived to our date. There are, however, many finely preserved remains of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine architecture, the most remarkable being the Temple of Augustus and Rome (20 BC) which is also known as the Monumentum Ancyranum. The central Anatolian plateau, ochre hued, cleft by ravines and dominated by volcanic peaks, forms the heartland of Turkey. Covered with wheat fields and outlined with ranks of poplars the boldly contoured steppe has a solitary majesty.

This plateau was one of the cradles of human civilization. At Catalhoyuk remains of settlements from as early as the eighth millennium B.C. have been unearthed. The homeland of many people and the historic battleground of East and West, here the Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Galatians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans all fought for their sovereignty and established their rule. In the 11th century the migrating Turks from the east made the plateau their own. During its turbulent history Central Anatolia has endured invasion by great conquerors such as Alexander the Great and Tamerlane. In the course of ten millennia of habitation the denizens of the area have reflected in their art - from the vigorous paintings of Catalhoyuk to the confident lines of Seljuk architecture, to more recently, the impressive modern form of Ataturk's Mausoleum - the dramatic contours of the surrounding landscape. The seat of Turkey's government in the strategic heart of central Anatolia, Ankara is the city selected by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, 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 civilization. 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 Beyazit 1. After the first World War, Ankara assumed a prominent position at the center of Ataturk's national existence, 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 Ankara's rise to prominence, is the imposing limestone Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk. Completed in 1953, this fusion of ancient and modern architectural concepts testifies to the power and grace of Turkish architecture. A museum at Anitkabir displays some of Ataturk's personal items and documents. His house in Cankaya, 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 Kapisi, the beautifully restored bedestan (covered bazaar), houses the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations 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 Arsianhane 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 Meydani (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. 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 theater continue. In the same vicinity stands the 15th century mosque and mausoleum of Haci Bayram. From Ulus Meydani, with its equestrian statue of Ataturk, continue down Ataturk Boulevard to the Ethnographic 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, theater, 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 jewelry, 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 Kizilay, on Tunali Hilmi Avenue and in the recently completed Atakule Tower in Cankaya. 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 Kavaklidere, some of Turkey's most chic clothing stores tempt the passer-by.

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