The Mausoleum of Ataturk or Anitkabir is an ode to the Father of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal. It sits atop the Rasateppe or Observation hill in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, overlooking the rest of the city meeting eye-to-eye with the most modern developments in Ankara. It is a stunning piece of architecture that is regal yet accessible, truly what the Ataturk stood for. It is entirely swathed in Travertine brought from various parts of Turkey, over its concrete structure while the Hall of Honour is covered in marble. The inner hall with its straight-line geometry and massive proportions is gilded to lay honor to its occupant. The grand architecture is the burial site of Mustafa Kemal, the Turkish Army General, the 1st President of Turkey and the founding father of Turkey along with Ismet Inonu, the 2nd President of Turkey. The Design came about as the result of an architectural competition in which the proposal of Professors Emin Onat and Ahmet Orhan Arda won over the other 48 entries. The Layout of the building includes the Road of Lions, Ceremonial Plaza, Hall of Honor, and the Peace park. The Anitkabir Ataturk museum rests below the main Hall of Honor housing very well-done representations of the Turkish freedom movement and the personal possessions of Ataturk. It is undoubtedly the pride of the country that has seen massive events in history and even at it’s prime.
As the center of the world, with several prominent locations across the Silk Route, not to forget to mention the end of the Silk Route, the confluence of rivers, civilizations and later dynasties and empires, Turkey became a republic in 1923 and Ankara was the headquarters of the Freedom movement from 1920s. This building is not just an ode to its founding father but also an ode to everything that Turkey today stands for. While the Anitkabir is featured on various Turkish banknotes and is touted as one of the greatest civil engineering feats in Turkey. Ataturk for his part comes across as a very sensible leader with a balanced outlook and only a person with such balance could employ terribly progressive means making Turkey a secular democratic republic. He banned the hijab for women, supported universal suffrage, he replaced the Islamic courts and Islamic canon law with a secular civil code based on the Swiss Civil code and penal code based on that of Italy. He surmised the best in the world and tried to transform Turkey. Today when one is in this magnificent land, one cannot but surmise that he achieved a feat that is quite formidable. The peaceful people of Turkey consider their leader a champion of all sorts, seeing his life like statue in his office setting, the aura of greatness is unmissable. While we were there we witnessed a primary school class on an excursion and we witnessed the university paying a visit to the Ataturk, their devotion and affability to this great man was absolutely contagious.
We headed to the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations first in Ankara before the Mausoleum and learning about the forefathers of the Turks was fascinating as ever. From the Paleolithic age that happened sometime in 8000 BC, to the Neolithic Age in 5500 BC, to the Chalcolithic Age in 3000BC, to the Early Bronze Age in 1950BC, to the Assyrian Trade colonies in 1750 BC, to the Hittite period in 1200 BC, the Phrygian Perios in 700 BC, to the late Hittite Period in 700 BC, to the Urartian Period in 600 BC, to the Lydian Period in 546 BC, to the classical period in Ankara including the Romans, Greeks, Hellentists, Byzantines, the Turks and finally the Ottomans, the award-winning museum hold pieces from the past that literally unlock the past. There are artefacts from Egypt where the civilisation through the ages had a massive influence, that only go to show that no matter what history is full of stories of plunder alongside stories of achievement and greatness. The physical manifestation of what the Hittites achieved is seen in full scale in the hillscape of Cappadocia, but there are several bits in the museum that are equally stunning. The best part of the museum is the curation of it, and how well the exhibits are displayed and made to understand for the non-history buff. The legend of the land is real, it is true. But Ankara is far from being touristy. It is unlike Istanbul, hardly putting on a show, what it does though is to show that behind all the dondurmas and caves, the hot air balloons and kunafas, the tombs and the mosques, Turkey, now christened Turkiye, means business.