When you are in a country that is attracting recent international media attention for all unpleasant reasons, the last thing you’d ever want to do is be outside the comfort of your home. But to be crippled with fear is not an option when you know that you might never come back once you return to your own country. So yesterday, my husband and I decided to go to this popular place in Ankara called Ulus. Filipinos here say that it’s comparable to Divisoria in Manila where you can buy various items in cheaper prices. Since we are not avid shoppers, it took us months before finally deciding to give the place a visit – not for shopping but for the sights it had to offer.
I googled what we had to see for a quick trip to Ulus and based from tourist suggestions, the results were – 1) Atatürk Heykeli (Victory Monument); 2) Anadolu Medeniyetleri Muzesi (Anatolian Civilization Museum); 3) Ankara Citadel; and 4) Atatürk Mausoleum. I wrote them all in a piece of paper just in case we had to ask around.
It was a fine, sunny day and we wanted to try the dolmuş (pronounced DOL-moosh) which is a Turkish mini bus. As per instructions of our friends here, all we had to do was wait for it along the nearby Mc Donald’s. After waiting for a couple of minutes with no dolmuş on sight, we decided to hop on a taxi. People who truly know me will understand why.
After about 15 minutes, we were at our first stop – the Victory Monument of Atatürk. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is known as the Father of the Republic of Turkey and the monument has served as one of the icons for this country. If you’re a tourist in Ankara, having a photo with this monument is like the “best evidence” that you’ve been here. As you can see in the photo below, there were a lot of pigeons but they all seemed so big they creeped me out.
Then we walked around in search of the Anatolian Civilization Museum. We both had no mobile data service so we relied on the traditional way of finding places – to ask and to read. We tried the first one and asked a man selling bread along the street. We showed him our little paper saying Anadolu Medeniyetleri Muzesi. Without looking at it, he shook his head. I guessed that the man wanted no tourists asking him for direction so we moved to our second option. We continued walking and hoped that the museum was popular enough to have street signs showing where it could be found. To our relief, there were indeed signs.
The walk towards the museum could normally take about 15-20 minutes if you head to it right away from the Victory Monument, which we did not do so we took a lot longer than that. Along the way, there was a beautiful forest-like park where we just had to take more photos for fear of one day forgetting about how it all looked like. It was reminiscent of Quezon National Forest Park at Gumaca if you’ve ever been there on a road trip to or from Bicol. We had to climb three flights of stairs before that but the view was worth it. It was a good thing that I looked it up online the night before because it would really be hard to reach the place wearing heeled boots. Just like in most of Ankara, the streets were made of cobblestones and wearing comfortable sneakers or tennis shoes would be the smartest choice.
After asking 2 more guards for directions, we finally reached the museum. The entrance fee was 15 Turkish Liras or about 240 Pesos per person. The lady selling the tickets knew how to speak English and so did the museum guards who smiled as they said “hoşgeldiniz” or “welcome!” to entering guests. It was funny because when I walked past the turnstile, a Turkish guard smiled at me and said “Kumusta ka?” When I did not respond, he added, “Maganda ka.” That’s when I realized I could speak to him as he was an honest man. Haha! He told us that he had a Filipina girlfriend so he was learning the language. We wanted to do some more chit chat but there was a group of Turkish students crowding behind us so we had to move away.
My husband and I are inclined to visiting museums. When we go to a certain place, we try as much as possible to visit at least one museum in the area because it makes us feel like we know the place better by seeing remnants of its history. We can say that the Anadolu Medeniyetleri Muzesi is the best museum we have been to so far. It was big, clean, and had soooo much to offer! It was true to its name because the transition from stone age to modernity in the Anatolian civilization was excellently presented. I could not help but think of my history professors as I walked past each age.
It should take more than an hour to truly enjoy and learn about everything in there. What attracted me most though were the tablets area. It was my first time to see actual tablets with translations of what were written in them! Of course I took photos of the best ones –
Most of the displays were found in Turkey but there were also huge sections that were returned by America to Turkey in 2014 after successful negotiations by their cultural representatives. There was also a cafe and souvenirs shop outside the museum where I was able to buy a novel titled “The Forty Rules of Love” from a known Turkish author named Elif Shafak. If I finish reading, it is going to be the first novel for me in n-years because law school and law life made me resort to movies.
We had a quick lunch before we headed to the Ankara Citadel. The informative sign at the entrance of the place said it was what remains of the Ankara Castle. From the looks (and smell) of the place, it seems like not much attention has been given to its preservation. It’s still in the list of must-sees in Ankara though because it is said to be the highest point where you can see Ankara in all angles. That is, if you do not have fear of heights. I stayed on the lower area while my husband happily climbed his way up the top with no handrails to rely on.
Since I did not really enjoy the citadel, I basked in the view of old Ottoman houses and streets. There were many antiques and souvenirs shops too. As we were about to head to our last stop, the Atatürk Mausoleum, rain started to pour and we weren’t prepared for that. We had no umbrellas and it was just soooo cold to continue with out little field trip. I guess the rain meant we had to go back another day to see the Atatürk Mausoleum, try hamam, and find good deals.
After 6 hours of touring, we decided to call it a day and headed back home. The end. 🙂