Visiting the Atatürk Mausoleum (Anitkabir)
One of the top things to do in Turkey's capital, Ankara, this notable example of modern Turkish architecture was designed by Turkish architect Emil Onat and erected between 1944 and 1953. Until the complex was finished, Atatürk's remains were housed in Ankara's Ethnographic Museum. They were brought here to his final resting place on November 10th 1953, marking the 15th anniversary of his death.
The complex itself is mammoth, comprising a Path of Honour flanked by reclining Hittite lions, a Court of Honour, the Atatürk Mausoleum itself, and a museum dedicated to Atatürk's life. For tourists to the capital, the building is not only a top attraction and leading example of Turkey's early 20th-century architecture but also an extremely important symbol honoring Atatürk's life and the birth of the republic.
A flight of 33 steps made from the volcanic tufa rock of Cappadocia leads up between the twin Towers of Liberation and Independence to the 260-meter-long Path of Honour. On either side of this 30-meter-wide avenue are sculpted groups of three female and three male figures, representing Turkey's transition from Ottoman traditionalism to the modernity of Atatürk's Republic. At the far end of the boulevard, the entrance to the Courtyard is guarded by two more towers symbolizing the Turkish army and defense of national rights. The Courtyard, hemmed by colonnaded buildings, also has towers on each corner signifying peace, victory, revolution, and the republic.
The colonnaded hall on the east side of the Courtyard houses the Atatürk Museum, where you can see an interesting collection of mementos and memorabilia, including many of Atatürk's personal effects. Displays include his clothing and furniture and his mammoth library collection. The edifice on the south side is the mausoleum of Turkey's second president, Ismet Inönü.
The mausoleum itself, on the northern side of the courtyard, is a starkly simple piece of architecture befitting Atatürk's rejection of the ornate pomp and splendor of the Ottoman era. The austere, Brutalist feel of the building is in direct contrast to most other sites travelers will encounter while sightseeing around Turkey. Reached by a monumental staircase of 33 steps, the 55-meter-wide and 21-meter-high building bears down on the courtyard; its sheer size makes ornamentation unnecessary. On either side of the platform terrace, bas reliefs depict scenes of the War of Independence, while above them burn eternal flames. Inscriptions flank the mausoleum entrance. To the right is an excerpt from Atatürk's great speech, delivered on the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Republic. To the left, is his exhortation to Turkish youth.
At the rear, inside the hall, in a niche with a gilded top and elaborate front railing stands the 40-ton marble sarcophagus of the Republic's founder.
Address: Anıtkabir Command Anıttepe, Çankaya/Ankara