Central Anatolia Sights

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Ankara Kalesi (Ankara Citadel)

Ankara Kalesi (Ankara Citadel) Review

Ankara's main historic sites are clustered around its ancient citadel (known as the Hisar or Kale in Turkish), high on a hill overlooking the city. Though the citadel's precise origins are not known, the inner and outer walls standing today are thought to have been built between the 7th and 9th centuries, during the Byzantine period. At that time, Arab armies were repeatedly staging invasions of Central Anatolia, and so the citadel appears to have been somewhat hastily cobbled together—notice the even older architectural fragments, including bits of stonework with Greek and Roman inscriptions, that were haphazardly incorporated into the fortifications. Although the modern city has grown up around the citadel, the area inside the walls has retained an almost villagelike atmosphere, an entire neighborhood with winding, cobblestoned streets and old houses built with timber and plaster.

The easiest place to enter the citadel is from Parmak Kapısı (Finger Gate), also known as Saat Kapısı (Clock Gate), across from the Divan Çukurhan. Head toward the center, where you'll see the recently restored Şark Kulesi (Eastern Tower). Climb up the stone steps to the tower's upper ramparts for excellent panoramic views of the city.

The citadel is also home to Ankara's oldest mosque, Alaaddin Camii, built in 1178 and located just opposite the Şark Kulesi. Unfortunately, it is rarely open and little can be seen from the outside. More interesting are the13th-century Arslanhane Camii (or Ahi Şerafettin Camii) and 14th-century Ahi Elvan Camii, just outside the walls and tucked along the winding streets that slope down from the citadel to Ulucanlar Caddesi, the main street that forms the southern boundary of the Citadel neighborhood. These mosques are remarkable for their original wooden ceilings, columns made from whole tree trunks, and Seljuk-style tiled prayer niches.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Uphill from Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ulus, Ankara
  • Location: Ankara
Updated: 01-02-2014

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