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Ankara Citadel And The Old City: Mooching Around On The Roof Of Turkey’s Capital City

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So, what have we told you thus far about our (too) short time in Ankara last May? A quick recap:

  • It was a quick stopover while we waited for our train to take us eastwards to stay with a friend. Ankara’s a big city and to say we didn’t really have our bearings on arrival is an understatement.
  • We loved the location and views from the hostel where we stayed. A lucky booking – we just needed somewhere close to the train station and we ended up very close to the centre, Kızılay.
  • We were determined not to leave Ankara without visiting the mausoleum of founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. We managed that on our last day and, as usual with our travels, it wasn’t quite what we envisaged. Here’s our post about our visit to Anıtkabir.
  • It was May – but Ankara is still cold and wet in May.
  • We ate well! Don’t we always? We had fabulous Kayseri Mantısı and we also had an unforgettable lunch of ciğer şiş (liver).

And that ciğer şiş is where we’ll continue our story. Because we were looking for the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations.

We’d walked – a lot – uphill.

It was cold, very wet and many of the roads had become like rapids. Our feet and ankles were soaked.

After gratefully devouring the ciğer şiş (we sat next to the radiator), we walked around the corner and realised we were very close to the museum.

And we also suddenly realised the high stone walls just next to us were the old city walls of the citadel.

Ankara Citadel City Walls
The walls of the Ankara Citadel

Wow, we had climbed a long way. But it was a bonus.

From our hostel balcony, we’d looked over at the citadel with Ankara Kalesi (the castle) sprawling across the top. It was a long way in the distance.

And, although it was great to see it, we’d written it off for this visit because of time constraints. And now, purely by accident, here we were.

Unlike our trek up to Kadifekale (Velvet Castle) in Izmir, Ankara Citadel had not been our mission.

Ankara Citadel, Turkey
A peek through the fortifications of Ankara Citadel

During its history, Ankara Kalesi has been occupied by Hittites, Romans, Selçuks, Byzantines, and it was heavily restored in the 1800s by the Ottomans.

It’s fair to say, this castle has seen a lot in its lifetime – and now it sits looking over the growth of modern Ankara. (Wonder what it thinks of modern Ankara…?)

Ankara Castle And Old City
Looking out towards Ankara Castle and the old city

But forget about modern Ankara for now.

We’re on the roof of the city, wandering amongst the colossal red stone fortifications of the castle. And directly below us, sitting on the hillside and divided from the outside world by the citadel walls is Eski Ankara (Old Ankara).

Ankara Citadel Restoration
There’s restoration underway around Ankara Citadel

This is a whole different world of narrow, rubbly streets; tumbledown Ottoman-era wooden and mud houses – some are now being restored – kids tear up and down the streets.

And it feels strange to hear rock music coming from someone’s nearby upstairs window.

Many of the streets are just narrow passages, too narrow for a vehicle. In Eski Ankara, the pedestrian is king.

We’re professional pedestrians so we’re happy up here, wandering without aim.

Ankara Citadel Views
Rooftops of the old city viewed from Ankara Citadel

We might have been cold and wet and without any particular bearings, but we really liked Ankara – enough to know we’ll be back.

Well, you can’t look out over scenes like this – newly restored and ramshackle, abandoned buildings – and not wonder how the view is going to change.

But there is one constant of being in high points in Ankara:

Anıtkabir From Ankara Citadel
Anıtkabir is visible from Ankara Citadel

Anıtkabir is visible for miles around.

At this point, we still hadn’t been there and we spent a few moments gazing over the city towards the mausoleum…and we wondered how we were going to get there.

It looked so far away. A taxi might have been pricey. Well, you know we made it…

Thankfully, Ankara’s underground rail network is simple and efficient.

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Tuesday 28th of March 2023

I love Ankara since 2004, my first visit to this city, and recently I visited this Beautiful city in Nov 2022 again. It's changed alot, to me ankara is heaven I don't have words but the only thing I have is to pray and wish that I visit this city again , I love Ankara

Turkey's For Life

Tuesday 28th of March 2023

We're hoping to get back to Ankara soon. We've heard the citadel and the old city have had a facelift so we're curious to see what it's like now. :)

Rachel Cotterill

Friday 10th of January 2014

I need to make time to visit Ankara. And Istanbul. And... oh, so many places! :D


Friday 10th of January 2014

wow! very optimistic towards ankara! how come? :)

April Ozbilgin

Wednesday 8th of January 2014

Loved the photos. I remember going to a restaurant that was really old in Old Ankara. The restaurant was wooden and very interesting. I think they served Tandir or Manti. That was probably in 1991.


Wednesday 8th of January 2014

old Ankara - my only reason to visit the metropolis - Oh, and the museums . .

Turkey's For Life

Thursday 9th of January 2014

Yeah there was allsorts going on in the busy streets just outside the castle walls but to be honest, we didn't have time to take too much notice. We really need to go back there I think. :)

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