Ever since my sister and I used to sit on our parents’ deep freeze in the laundry and test each other on countries and capitals from the world map on the wall, I have wanted to see Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Finally, today was my day and to make it even better I was to meet my sister there after being apart for over six months!
“Is the kettle on yet?” I called out up the stairs as I arrived at the pre-arranged hostel. I could hear her laugh upstairs. “I’m already on my first cup!” came the reply!
Skype has changed the nature of meetings like this – usually we would not be able to stop talking for days but as we now talk every week or so, it was a strange and calm rendezvous. Still, we would travel together for a while from here so any as yet unspoken news would come out in time!
We had one day in Ankara before heading off towards the South and warmth. After coffee at the hostel and a breakfast in the park (see photo below), we decided to skip the albeit amazing major museums to take in Anit Kabir (Ataturk’s Mausoleum and Museum), the Citadel and old town on a hill overlooking town, and one little free museum on the walk between the two.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938) it turns out pops up everywhere – a bit like Lenin in Russia. He was a Galipolli hero in WW1. After the war, he was able to rally the Turks to fight back against the European powers who were all set to carve up the defeated Ottoman Empire between them.
Ataturk was essentially the founder of the current secular Turkish State which he then went on to vigorously modernise (with western measurements, calender, roman letters for the language, etc) so that it could take its place among the modern world powers.
Ankara was a good place to start my Turkish history lessons!