I have seen seen and done so many things so far. The list of to do things or to go places is ever-growing but i like to be on the lookout for something different something not so popular. I ask the new people I meet for their recommendations, each ones unique point of view is bound to reveal a treasure at some point.
Asking about cultural visits though here in Ankara… people kind of make a blank face. To a foreigner Ankara has some museums or historical places to visit, but they pale out in comparison with Istanbul, the cultural capital of Turkey. That’s what the blank face is for. After some thought the majority of the people recommend the Anatolian civilization museum, the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk and then the castle of Ankara. When visitors come to Ankara the must place to go is the last one.
I loved it there. The castle is in the Ulus district of the city, the old center of Ankara. It’s a few kilometers away from Kizilay the modern city center. Old official buildings are scattered around and it is considered a conservative neighborhood of Ankara. There you can imagine how life used to be 100 years ago, if you take out the car factor though.
To go to the castle of Ankara you can pass by the open bazar of Ulus. And there is where you kind of travel back in time. You see the image of traditional Turkish people come to life. Middle aged men with fat bellies and moustaches sitting in low tables drinking tea and smoking. Middle aged women dressed more conservatively and wearing headscarves are more spotted in this area. Simit sellers, it’s a bread with sesame pastry that is very popular in Turkey, and tea cafes in every corner.
A visit to the castle of Ankara together with a tour at the bazaar can’t be a short outing. A Turkish tea after touring around is a must.
The bazaar has to offer from kitchenware to clothing and everything in between. The atmosphere around can make you want to buy everything more than the most thought over display of a shopping center. I liked the traditional Turkish coffee sets and the handmade hookahs more. You can see clothing for
the religious ceremonies spread out, the white costume for the circumcision ceremony or the red dress for the ceremony before the wedding. You can find henna there too. Since the bazar is addressed to the local population of Ankara here the sellers are more relaxed. They will let you browse in peace. Maybe you will miss all the fanfare, maybe you won’t.
My recommendation: do not buy anything on the way up. Save yourself the extra weight and if you are prepared with sports shoes you will also avoid sore feet later. We had to stop every now and then, but the view either inside the castle or to the city that seems like it’s springing from it is quite a treat. There are many stairs involved but after braving them you can see the whole city. The gap between its people from one side bright buildings from the other one houses made from poor materials is obvious there. After dark the castle of Ankara and its surrounding places is better to be avoided though for safety reasons.
Inside the castle there are still people living there. Many old houses are restored and turned into hotels or restaurants. The paths are narrow and paved with cobblestones. When you enter from the southern door you pass some souvenir stores and then passing the houses inside the castle you head up to the walls on the other side and the towers there. At the open straight place on the way to the top; local women sell their handmade knitted accessories. The stray cats seem a permanent feature of the castle. They look fed and taken care of by the people there.
Afiyet olsun ! enjoy