Past Cities

Ankara, Turkey

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Ankara, the capital of Turkey, has a rich and diverse history that spans over millennia. The city's location at the heart of Anatolia has made it a strategic and political hub since ancient times. The region has been inhabited by various tribes and civilizations, including the Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans. Each of these groups has left its mark on the city, shaping its culture, architecture, and history.

The earliest known settlement in Ankara dates back to the Bronze Age, around 3000 BCE. The Hittites, one of the most powerful civilizations of the ancient Near East, ruled the city from around 1400 BCE until their collapse in 1180 BCE. During their reign, Ankara served as an important center for trade and commerce due to its location at the crossroads of major trade routes.

In the 8th century BCE, the Phrygians, a tribe of Indo-European people, established their capital at Gordion, near Ankara. The Phrygians left behind impressive monumental structures, including the famous Midas Monument and the Phrygian Valley of the Kings.

In 333 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered the city, marking the beginning of the Hellenistic era in Ankara. The city became known as Ancyra and was transformed into a center of culture, trade, and art under the influence of Greek civilization. The Roman Empire later conquered Ancyra in 25 BCE, making it an important administrative and military center in the region.

During the Byzantine era, Ankara remained a strategic location due to its position on the Silk Road, a major trade route connecting the East and the West. The city became an important religious center, with the construction of the Ankara Citadel, several churches, and monasteries.

In the 11th century, the Seljuk Turks captured Ankara and made it their capital. The Seljuks transformed the city into a major cultural and intellectual center, building magnificent mosques, madrasas, and caravanserais. The Great Seljuk Sultan Alparslan was buried in Ankara, and his tomb, the Alparslan Türbesi, remains one of the city's most important landmarks.

The Ottoman Empire captured Ankara in 1356 and made it a key center for trade, agriculture, and handicrafts. During the Ottoman period, Ankara was a relatively small town compared to Istanbul, the empire's capital, and other major cities in Anatolia. However, Ankara's strategic location and fertile land made it an important agricultural center, producing wheat, barley, cotton, and tobacco.

In 1923, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Ankara became the capital of the newly established Republic of Turkey. The founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, chose Ankara as the capital due to its central location and historical significance. Atatürk initiated major reforms in Turkey, including the adoption of a new Turkish alphabet, the separation of religion and state, and the promotion of education and modernization. These reforms transformed Ankara from a provincial town into a modern capital city.

Today, Ankara is a bustling metropolis with a population of over five million people. The city's strategic location at the crossroads of major transportation routes makes it an important economic and political center. Ankara is home to several prestigious universities, museums, and cultural institutions, including the Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The city also hosts several international conferences, summits, and events, cementing its role as a major player in global affairs.