The city of Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850 meters. The province is a predominantly fertile wheat steppe land, with forested areas in the northeast. The region’s history goes back to the Bronze Age Hatti civilization, which was succeeded in the 2nd millennium BC by the Hitties, in the 10th century BC by the Phrygians, then by the Lydian’s and Persians. After this came the Galatians, a Celtic race who were the first to make Ankara their capital in the 3rd century BC. It was then known as Ancyra, meaning “anchor”, one of the oldest words in the language of the sea-loving Celts. The city subsequently fell to the Romans, and to the Byzantines. Seljuk Sultan Alparslan opened the door into Anatolia for the Turks at the victory of Malazgirt in 1071. Then in 1073, he annexed Ankara, an important location for military transportation and natural resources, to Turkish territory.
The city was an important cultural, trading, and arts center in Roman times, and an important trading center on the caravan route to the east in Ottoman times. It had declined in importance by the nineteenth century.
Ankara Citadel: The foundations of the citadel were laid by the Galatians on a prominent lava outcrop, and completed by the Romans. The Byzantines made restorations and additions. The area around and inside the citadel, being the oldest part of Ankara, contains many fine examples of traditional architecture. There are also lovely green areas in which to relax. It is well known that the Ankara region was the cradle of wine in Hatti and Hittie times around 2000 BC. Many restored traditional Turkish houses in the area of the citadel have found new life as restaurants, serving local and international dishes and wine.
Roman Theatre: The remains, including stage and backstage, can be seen outside the citadel. Roman statues that were found here are exhibited in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The audience area is still under excavation.
Temple of Augustus: The temple was built by the Galatian King Pylamenes in 10 AD as a tribute to Augustus, and was reconstructed by the Romans on the ancient Ankara Acropolis in the 2nd century. It is important today for the “Political Ancyranum”, the sole surviving “Political Testament” of Augustus, detailing his achievements, inscribed on its walls in Latin and Greek. In the fifth century the temple was converted into a church by the Byzantine.
Roman bath: The bath has all the typical features: cold room, cool room and hot room. They were built in the time of Emperor Caracalla (3rd century AD) in honor of Asclepios, the god of medicine. Today only the basement and first floors remain.
Column of Julian: This column was erected in 362 AD, probably to commemorate a visit by the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate. It stands fifteen meters high and has a typical leaf decoration on the capital.