The history of Ankara and its surroundings stretches back to the Hatti civilization of the Bronze Age. Two thousand years before the time of Jesus, the Hittites become the dominant power of the region, and were then followed by the Phyrgians, Lydians and Persians. In the 3rd Century BC, a Celtic race known as the Galatians made Ankara their capital city. The name Ankara comes from the word 'Ancyra', which means 'anchor.'
Ankara gained prominence under the leadership of Ataturk during the national resistance which followed World War I. It was declared the capital of the new Turkish Republic on October 13th 1923 when the National War of Independence freed Turkey from foreign occupation.
Occupying one of the most prominent parts of the city is Anitkabir, the magnificent mausoleum constructed to commemorate Ataturk. This structure, which was completed in 1953, is a synthesis of antique and modern architectural themes, and proves the elegance and strength of Turkish architecture.
The oldest parts of the city surround the Castle. The Alaaddin Mosque found inside its walls is still one of the best examples of Selcuk art and wood craftsmanship, in spite of the fact that it was restored by the Ottomans. The area has experienced a rejuvenation with the restoration of many interesting old Turkish houses, and the opening a several art galleries and fine restaurants which feature examples of traditional Turkish cuisine. Near the gate of the castle is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which is a beautifully restored portion of the old bazaar. It contains priceless artifacts belonging to the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras as well as the Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartu and Roman civilizations.
Ankara has a vibrant cultural and artistic life with many select ballet, theatre, opera and folk dance performances. The city's Philharmonic Orchestra, which always plays to a packed house, is especially famous.
Altindag: Altindag is 1 km from the city centre and has been occupied from prehistoric times. An important centre during the Selcuk and Ottoman periods, the city has many important sites of interest to visitors. Among them are the Ankara Castle, the Temple of Augustus, the pillar of Julian, the Roman Baths, the Republic memorial, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the State Museum of Painting and Sculpture, the Museum of Ethnography, the War of Independence Museum and the Museum of the Republic. Also in this district are the tombs of Karacabey, Ahi Serafettin, Haci Bayram Veli Efendi, Karyagdi, Gulbaba and Izzettin Baba and the Haci Bayram, Aslanhane, Ahi Elvan, Alaaddin, Zincirli, and Kursunlu Mosques.
Cankaya: One of the most important districts in Ankara, this large area contains many places of interest. The Ataturk Orman Ciftligi, Eymir Lake, Elmadag Ski Facilities, Ahlatlibel Sport and Entertainment Centre are all within this area.
The huge list of primary tourist attractions includes: Anitkabir, the Ataturk Museum, the Ataturk Memorial (Zafer Aniti-Sihhiye), the MTA Natural History Museum, the Security Memorial, the Ethnographic Ataturk Memorial, the Natural History Museum, the Archeology Museum of Middle East Technical University, the State Painting and Statue Exhibit, Memorial Park, the Botanical Garden, Abdi Ipekci Park, Guven Park, Kurtulus Park, Kugulu (Swan) Park, the National Sovereignty Park, Ahmet Arif Park and sport facilities such as the Municipal Ice Skating rinks and the Indoor Pool at 100 Yil. There is also a Toy Museum (Cebeci-Ankara University Education Faculty), the Hittite Memorial, Atakule and the Turkish National Parliament buildings.
Kecioren: Kecioren is one of Ankara's central districts, and host to the world's biggest meteorology centre, as well as several departments of Ankara University, the Ataturk Sanatorium and the Gulhane Military Medical Academy. Also here is the Old Ankara Agricultural School, used by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as a military headquarters during the War of Independence, and is now a museum.
Yenimahalle: Yenimahalle is within the city and has attractions which reflect the rich history of the area. Its highlight is the Akkopru Bridge, built in 1222 by the Selcuk ruler Alaaddin Keykubat along the old Bagdat Commercial road over Ankara Creek, which has four large arches and three small.
Outside the city
Akyurt: Akyurt is 33 km from the city centre, and was occupied from the Early Bronze Age until the 14th century. A large tumulus 15 meters high and 200-300 meters in diameter was found 1 km northeast of the village of Balikhisar, which is a settlement from the 3rd millennium BC, and belongs to the Early Bronze Age.
Ayas: This area, located 58 km from Ankara, is famous for its thermal springs. The radioactive waters of the Karakaya thermal springs and the mineral drinking water, 23 km west of Ayas, are known to be beneficial for those in poor health. The vineyards at Karadere, Ova, Ariklari and Kirazdibi are some of the district's natural resources.
Bala: The forest at Beynam National Park, 35 km from Bala on the district border, is an important recreation spot for city residents of Ankara, as well as the locals of Bala.
Beypazari: Located 99 km from Ankara, Beypazari's history goes back to the Hittites and Phyrgians. Beypazari and its surroundings have been controlled by the Galatians, Romans, Selcuks and Ottomans, and at one time was an episcopal centre. From historical artifacts and ancient maps, we know that its original name of Lagania was later changed to Anastasiopolis.
This charming district is famous for its historical houses, silver craftsmen and for its carrots. Within the district are many places of interest, including the Bogazkesen tomb, Suluhan, the Old Baths, the Sultan Alaaddin Mosque, the Aksemseddin Mosque, the Kursunlu Mosque, the Rustem Pasa Baths, the tomb of Gazi Gunduzalp (Hirkatepe), Kara Davut's Tomb (Kuyumcutekke) and the tomb of Karaca Ahmet.