Anıtkabir: Eternal Home of the Leader of the Century

Anıtkabir is a complex that includes the mausoleum of the great leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Ankara. The design of the Anıtkabir project belongs to Emin Onat and Orhan Arda and the project has started in 1944 and was fully completed in 1953. Besides the mausoleum, the complex includes different kinds of structures and monuments, also a wooded area named Barış Park. After the devastating death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on the 10th of November 1938, his body was kept in Ankara Ethnography Museum until the Anıtkabir was completely built.

To indicate the location of the mausoleum, government gather a commission. In the line with the report prepared, it is decided to build the mausoleum in the Rasattepe. While the expropriation works are initiated, the project competition of the Anıtkabir design was started which Emin Onat and Orhan Arda won. This four-part project had some issues and changes during that time and the project was completed with a delay. On the 10th of November 1953, the body of the Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was transported. 

Where is Anıtkabir?

Anıtkabir is located in the Çankaya district of the capital city of Turkey; Ankara.

Getting to Anıtkabir

To get to Anıtkabir there are lots of public transportation options from everywhere of Ankara. If you are getting to Anıtkabir from Çankaya, Oran, Ayrancı, there are lots of buses and lines from every district of it. Then, get off in Kızılay station and transfer to Ankaray in the AŞTİ. Then get off in the Tandoğan station where you can walk to Anıtkabir for about 6 minutes.

History of Anıtkabir

Anıtkabir is a gift to honoring the memory of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the creator of the Turkish Republic and the significant representative of the Turkish War of Independence. He was passed away after 57 years of short life on the 10th of November 1932. Atatürk is a great leader and the creator of the contemporary civilization of the Turkish nation with all its institutions. Also, he has been a great and valuable leader in the history of mankind. 

The building of Anıtkabir was done in 9 years as 4 gradual parts of construction. The first phase of the project entails the building of the Lion Road’s ground floor and the retaining wall which began in 1944 and was finished in 1945. The second part was completed in 1950. The second phase includes the Parade Ground and mausoleum. 

In the second phase, it was agreed to plan a “foundation project” of the scale of the monument as considering the monument’s decrement in scale to decrease the relieve strain based on masonry and reinforced concrete used as a material. To determine any potential failure, iron installation and reinforcement in 11 meters concrete base structure was completed by the end of 1947. Also, the entrance towers and significant part of the road layout, afforestation works, and irrigation system was almost completed.

The third part is completed in 1950 and includes the leading roads to the monument, Lion Road, Parade Road, and the stone covering the mausoleum. Also, the stair steps, replacement, and installation of the sarcophagus are completed.

The last and the fourth part were completed in three years. It is including the Honor Hall, sub-floors of the vaults, stone profiles, and eaves decorations around Honor Hall. In the “Project of Anıtkabir”, there was a vaulted section rising above the colonnade of the mausoleum. In 1951, the government has asked the architects whether it was possible to complete the Honor Hall as 28 m decreased from the height to complete the structure in a short amount of time.

By bringing in too much time, they would be able to encircle the Honor Hall in reinforced material. In the construction of Anıtkabir; the interior was designed with marbles in different colors and the exterior was covered with travertines with a bunch of colors.

The travertine that was used in the groups of statues, the lion statues, columns of the mausoleum, and the inner walls were brought from different districts of Kayseri. Black and red travertines are used in Parade Road and floor covering of the towers. Yellow travertines were used in reliefs of victory, outer of Honor Hall and the walls of it, and columns of Parade Road. 

Architecture and Sections

The architecture of Anıtkabir was influenced from the Second National Architecture Movement period and has lots of sections in the complex in it including towers, statues, and roads. In the architecture of the Anıtkabir, it is preferred neither Ottoman nor Islamic motives consciously. Instead, the architecture referred to the Anatolian roots, especially Halicarnassus Mausoleum was taken as an example. Both of the structures are based on a rectangular prism base and surrounded by columns.

On the other hand, the interior architecture of Anıtkabir influenced by Ottoman motifs such as columns, arch, dome, and vaults. Besides, revacs, parade ground, floor coverings of Honor Hall, and rug motives on the ceiling were designed inspired by Ottoman and Seljuk handiworks. Also, the octagon-shaped burial chamber was originated from the tombs of Ottoman and Seljuk. The harmony of the cultures in the architecture is shown in the states that shape the opinions and thoughts of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. 

Anıtkabir was positioned in the Rasattepe or with the present name Anıttepe. There two main parts in Anıtkabir and they both group with the different sections of it. The first par includes parade ground, lion road, and mausoleum; whereas the other part includes memorial block and Barış Park. Every section of the Anıtkabir will touch your emotions differently. The sections are detailed in the section indicated below. 

Mausoleum

The mausoleum consists of three parts which are exterior, honor hall, and burial chamber. Most of the guests are certainly amazed by this section of the Anıtkabir.

Exterior

The reinforced concrete Anıtkabir has a rectangular plan and builds symmetrically. There are 44 columns and twenty-seven beams in the structure. In the part where the outer walls are connected to the roof, under the eaves, a muqarnas-effect cornice made of Turkish carving cover the structure. Also, in this part of the facades, there are scones for draining the rainwater.  Yellow travertines that the structure is covered that comes from Eskipazar. Also, cornices, lintels, and scones are coming from the stone pit of Kayseri.

You can access the mausoleum by the 42-step ladder that there is an oratory which is made by Kenan Yontunç. The side of the white marble pulpit facing the parade ground is decorated by spiral carvings. In the middle of these carvings, there is” Sovereignty belongs to the unconditionally nation” the word of Mustafa Kemal, which is also written by carving technique. On the left of the stairs that go up to the mausoleum, there are reliefs about Commander-in-Chief Pitched Battle, and on the right, there are Sakarya Pitched Battle reliefs.

Honor Hall

You can enter the Honor Hall from the bronze doors where the last message of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the message of İsmet İnönü after the Atatürk’s death is found. The last message of Atatürk was dated 29th of October 1938 to the Turkish army. The condolence message of 2nd President of the Republic of Turkey, İsmet İnönü to the Turkish nation was dated as 21st of 1938. These inscriptions were written on the date 1981 which is the 100th anniversary of Atatürk’s birth.

A symbolic sarcophagus of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, made of bulk red marble which is in 40 tons, stands in the niche.  where the grand window facing the entrance, there is a symbolic sarcophagus of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk which is a single piece of red marble and weighs 40 tons. The part of the sarcophagus is covered by the white marble of Ayfon. Also, the floor and the sidewalls of the Honor Hall are covered with black, green, red, and tiger skin marbles coming from Hatay, Adana, Bilecik, and Afyon.

The mosaics have covered the ceiling and including twenty-seven beams and the side gallery in the Honor Hall. Sidewalls are covered with torches of bronze. The roof of the mausoleum was made of a shiny lead. 

Burial Chamber

The beloved body of Atatürk is located on the ground floor of the mausoleum which is dug directly into the ground. On the first floor of the mausoleum, where the Honor Hall is, the burial chamber is found right under the symbolic sarcophagus. The burial chamber has touches of architecture Seljuk and Ottoman in the octagon shape with its ceiling decorated with mosaics and geometric motives. 

Floors and walls are covered with red, black, and white marbles. A red marble sarcophagus sits in the center of the burial chamber, facing the qibla. There are brass vases around the marble sarcophagus which contain lands sent from every city of the Turkish Republic and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.  

Lion Road

Lion Road is starting from the entrance and continues until the parade ground measured as 262,2 m and has 26 steps which refer to the date of the Great Offensive; 26th of August 1922. There are lion statues on the two sides of the road which gives hints about the name. The twenty-four Oghuz Tribes are depicted by twenty-four statues of a lion in total. The statues are lined as double for referring to the unity and togetherness of the Turkish nation. 

Men and Women Statues

In front of the Liberty Tower and Independence Tower, there are men and women statues in respectively. The women’s sculpture groups are found in front of the Independence Tower and consisted of three women. Two of these women on the sides are holding a thick and grand wreath. The wreath is made up of bunches of spikes represents the luxuriant homeland. On the left, there is a woman who is pleading with God for Atatürk’s forgiveness, while the woman in the center is weeping and hiding her face behind her hands. This trio is representing the proud, determined, and dignified Turkish women who are in the pain of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s death.

The statues of men are located in front of the Freedom Tower. The man on the right referred to the Turkish soldier with his helmet and hoot. With handing a book, the man by the side of him reflects youth and the intelligence of young Turkish people. The last man is the Turkish peasantry with his local clothing. The three of the statues express the deep pain on their faces due to the loss of Atatürk. Also, dignity and high willpower are expressed with the statues. All of the impressive men and women statues are the great work of Hüseyin Özkan.

Towers

There are ten towers in Anıtkabir that their interior is covered with mirrored vaults as the exterior is covered with pyramid-shaped roofs made of bronze. The pyramid shape is referring the nomad tents of Turkish in Middle Asia. Each of the towers has its unique meaning and the words of Atatürk about the meaning are written. If you wonder, you can follow the list below.

Robin (Mehmetçik) Tower

Robin (Mehmetçik) Tower is located at the end and the right of the Lion Road. There are reliefs on the exterior surface of it that express soldiers’ left. This expression is shown to the soldier and his mother that send her son to the battle. The sadness and pride can be read from the face of the mother.

Victory Tower

Inside the Victory Tower, the artillery carriage which has carried the body of Atatürk from Dolmabahçe Palace to the navy is exhibited. Also, inside of the walls, the dates of three very important victories of Atatürk are written with the valuable words of Atatürk.

Liberty Tower

Liberty Tower is located at the left of Lion Road. There is a relief on the wall of the tower that there is an angel figure holding a paper in his hand a rearing horse next to him. The figure of the angel refers to the sanctity of independence and the paper he is holding is “Declaration of Freedom”. Also, the horse figure symbolizes freedom and independence.

Independence Tower

Independence Tower is located at the right of Lion Road. An eagle figure stands by the man wielding a sword with two of the hands-on it. In Seljuk’s sculpture and mythology, the eagle is symbolizing liberty. The young man with a sword is representing the Turkish nation that defends its independence.

Peace Tower

One of the most important words of Atatürk is written inner wall of Peace Tower which is “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” as a relief. In the reliefs on the wall, there are farming peasants and a soldier figure that protecting them as he is holding a sword. The soldier symbolizes the Turkish army and the peaceful environment they provide to everyone in the country. 

23rd April Tower

A relief on the inner wall of the 23rd April Tower symbolizes the day that the Turkish Grand National Assembly has declared. In the relief, there is a woman that holding a paper written 23rd of April 1920.

National Pact Tower

National Pact Tower and the relief on its wall is representing the interlocking as a single body nationally. The four hands are on top of each other on a handle of the sword in the relief. The composition symbolizes the pact of the nation to save their homeland.

Revolution Tower

The relief on the inner wall of Revolution Tower represents the collapse of the Ottoman Empire by a weak hand holding a torch with weak fire and the strong hand holding a bright-lighted torch symbolizes the Turkish Republic and the Revolutions Atatürk. Also, in the tower, some of the clothes of Atatürk are exhibited.

Republic Tower

Republic Tower is the entrance of the Main Gallery and written the valuable words of Atatürk on its walls. Also, inside of the tower, there are photos of Manastır Military High School where Atatürk was educated, Congress of Erzurum and Sivas, and the models of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

Defense of Law Tower

In the relief outer of the Defense of Law Tower national unity in the War of Independence is expressed by the way of defense of the law. In the relief, there is a figure of a man that holding a sword in one hand and the other hand forward as if saying “Stop!” to the enemy who crossed the borders. This male figure is representing the Turkish community.

Parade Ground 

Parade Ground is located at the end of the Lion Road with 15000 people capacity as an area of rectangular. The floor is decorated with cube-shaped black, yellow, red, and beige travertines to create Turkish carpet motives. The Parade Ground can be reached from three-step stairs located on the four sides.

Barış Park 

In the hill where Anıtkabir located there is a 630.000 m2 area enriched with plants coming from different countries and different regions of Turkey to make live the word of Atatürk “Peace at home peace in the world”. East and West are the two parts of the park where the plants and seeds were sent from 25 countries.

Anıtkabir Atatürk Museum

To build a museum, the area between the National Pact and the Tower of Revolution was used. In the light of this purpose, Anıtkabir Atatürk Museum has opened on the 21st of June 1960. The belongings used by Atatürk such as clothes and the gifts him are exhibited there.

Also, in the museum, medals of Atatürk and the belongings from his adopted children Afet Inan, Sabiha Gökçen, and Rukiye Erkin are exhibited.

Events

Anıtkabir makes householding to thousands of people every year on the important and special days of Atatürk’s life and for the Turkish Republic. The highest number of visitors are coming to Anıtkabir on the 10th of November to remember him. Other crowd days are the 19th of May Commemoration of Atatürk Youth and Sports Day, the 29th of October Republic Day, the 30th of August the Victory Day, and the 18th of Martyrs Day. On these days, the soldiers show their respect to Atatürk by their choreographed walk. Then, the visitors visit the Anıtkabir in the memory of Atatürk and show their respect.

Besides these days, the 24th of November the Teachers Day, the 13th of October the day that Ankara was accepted as the capital city of Turkey, the 19th of September the Veterans Day, and many other days are also celebrated in the presence of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Frequently Asked Questions About Anıtkabir

Here are the frequently asked questions about Anıtkabir. If you want to know closer about every detail of it let’s review them.

What is the cost of entrance to Anıtkabir?

The entrance is all free.

When is the Anıtkabir opened?

It is opened at 09.00 in all months.

When is the Anıtkabir closed?

It is closed at 16.30 between 01/02-14/05, 17.00 between 15/05-31/10, and 16.00 between 01/11-31/01.

Was Anıtkabir a plan of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk?

It was not for sure. It is a monument dedicated to all his work and just himself.

How much the build of Anıtkabir was costed?

It is guessed about 40 million Turkish lira.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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