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Anit Kabir

The monumental mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938), the founder of modern Turkey, is worth a visit to see how much sway he still holds over the Turkish people. Located high above the city, with an abundance of marble and an air of veneration, the Anıt Kabir is one of Ankara's more relaxing areas. As you approach the tomb, the Hurriyet Kulesi (Tower of Liberty) has interpretive panels and photos covering Atatürk's funeral, the construction of the tomb and the iconography of the site. Facing it, the Istiklal Kulesi (Tower of Independence) gives more detail, with models recreating scenes.

Continue along the Lion Rd, a 262m walkway lined with 24 lion statues – Hittite symbols of power used to represent the strength of the Turkish nation. The path leads to a massive courtyard, framed by colonnaded walkways, with steps leading up to the huge tomb on the left.

Entered to the right of the tomb, the extensive museum displays Atatürk memorabilia, personal effects, gifts from famous admirers, recreations of his childhood home and school, and his favourite dog, Fox (stuffed). Just as revealing as all the rich artefacts are his simple rowing machine and huge multilingual library, which includes tomes he wrote. more


Downstairs, extensive exhibits about the War of Independence and the formation of the republic move from battlefield murals with sound effects to overdetailed explanations of post-1923 reforms. At the end, a gift shop sells Atatürk items of all shapes and sizes, including key rings, jigsaw puzzles, cufflinks, clocks, ties and even height charts.

As you approach the tomb itself, look left and right at the gilded inscriptions, which are quotations from Atatürk's speech celebrating the republic's 10th anniversary in 1932. Remove your hat as you enter, and bend your neck to view the ceiling of the lofty hall, lined in marble and sparingly decorated with 15th- and 16th-century Ottoman mosaics. At the northern end stands an immense marble cenotaph, cut from a single piece of stone weighing 40 tonnes. The actual tomb is in a chamber beneath it.

It should take around two hours to see the whole site. It is virtually a pilgrimage site, so arrive early to beat the crowds; school groups frequently drop by midweek, especially in May, June and September.

The memorial straddles a hill in a park about 2km west of Kızılay and 1.2km south of Tandoğan, the closest Ankaray station to the entrance. A free shuttle regularly zips up and down the hill; alternatively, it's a pleasant walk to the mausoleum (about 20 minutes) or you can take a taxi (TL5). Note that security checks, including a bag scan, are carried out on entry; taxi drivers should turn off the meter while the guards go through the formalities.

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