Central Anatolia Sights

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Anıtkabir (Atatürk's Mausoleum)

Anıtkabir (Atatürk's Mausoleum) Review

Atatürk's picture is on every single piece of Turkish currency, his visage hangs in just about every office and official building in the country, and his principles and ideas are the foundations of modern Turkish political thought. So his vast mausoleum, perched on a hilltop overlooking the capital city he built, is on a scale suitable to his stature in Turkey. A marble promenade flanked with Hittite-style lions leads to the imposing mausoleum, where a huge sarcophagus lies beyond a colonnade with inscriptions from his speeches and below a ceiling of brilliant gold mosaics. Soldiers march endlessly around the site, and nearly every important foreign dignitary who visits the capital goes to lay a wreath here in tribute to the man who, it is not an exaggeration to say, created modern Turkey. After Atatürk died in 1938, his body was laid to rest in the building that now houses Ankara's Ethnography Museum The construction of the Anıtkabir took nine years, from 1944 to 1953. Exactly 15 years after his death, Atatürk's remains were interred under the huge sarcophagus here.

An adjoining museum contains personal belongings from the revered man's life, including his clothes, automobiles, and personal library. The corridors underneath the tomb house an in-depth exhibit on the 1919–1922 War of Independence. The focal points are three enormous dioramas, each more than 35 meters (100 feet) in length, depicting the three major theaters of war: Çanakkale (1915), Sakarya (1921), and the Great Attack (1922). These are accompanied by rather intense sound effects—explosions, gunfire—to further dramatize the events. A map at the end of the Çanakkale hall shows Turkey and the territorial claims various other nations were making on it at the time, which gives some insight into why the Turks felt so besieged. Other exhibits explain major developments during the early Republican period, particularly Atatürk's reforms and legacy. There is also a gift shop with every kind of Atatürk souvenir imaginable.

To reach the mausoleum, you can take the metro to Tandoğan and walk up the long road that ascends from the main entrance at the northern end of the grounds. A quicker way is to take a taxi to the alternate entrance on Akdeniz Caddesi, on the southeast side.

Updated: 01-02-2014

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