Ankara Castle

Ankara Castle

Ankara Castle is one of the most worth seeing places in the capital city of Turkey, Ankara. It is a historical artifact castle that is thought to be built after Hittites, by Persians and it has a lot to offer in terms of historical remaining. The castle insists two parts: an inner castle and an outer castle. The inner castle has two doors, one of them is named the outer door and the other one is named the Hisar door.

This article will provide information about Ankara Castle.

Architectural Properties of the Castle

The highest point of the inner castle is named Akkale and the inner castle has four floors. The walls are 16 meters long. In the inner castle, there are 42 pentagon-shaped towers, which are a part of other many towers. Pentagon-shaped towers are one of the most architectural significant properties of the castle, and its worth is known since it was built. It has 1200 steps to climb and 2 doors to enter the castle, which makes visiting the castle sort of difficult, yet this is a part of the experience.

From the outer castle to the inner castle, you need to pass two doors named Zindan Kapı (Dungeon Gate). There used to be guardians between those two doors. III. Mikhael put an inscription that says “Reinforce. You are among the stones that God stepped on”. Yet this inscription is not present at the moment. The inscription gave the castle a religious meaning.

At the eastern end of the Zindan Kapı (Dungeon Gate) walls, the “Eastern Tower” is located, and it was used as a dungeon for years. Sultan Bayezid I kept as a prisoner in that dungeon.

Byzantine and Ankara Castle

Ankara Castle was destroyed during the Arab/Sasani attacks and was repaired by the Byzantines in the 9th century. The castle’s architectural style shows a lot of similarity to Byzantine architecture; hence it is considered in the scope of Byzantine architecture products. And the walls of the Ankara Castle bear all the characteristics of the military architecture of the Middle Ages.

Significance of the Ankara Castle

There is no specific knowledge about when it was built, yet according to some sources it was built in B.C VII. Century with the command of Phrygian king Midas. The castle was built for military purposes and has traces of a lot of civilizations other than Hittites such as Seljuks, Romans, and Ottomans. In this point of view, the castle has witnessed a lot of historical highlights.

Besides its historical importance, since the castle is built upon the highest point of Ankara, offers you the opportunity to observe the beautiful view of Ankara. You can take amazing pictures of and from the castle, it is one of the best points in the world to watch sunrise or sunset. It attracts thousands of tourists each year with its beautiful view and historical importance. Also, there are lots of souvenir shops and restaurants to eat at after exploring this wonderful castle. Tasting the traditional food, seeing, and buying hand-made and cultural products are all part of the experience of the castle.

According to 18th-century travelers’ memories, there were Armenian and Greek churches present in the inner castle. This illustrates the multi-national and multi-religious properties of the castle.

Evliya Celebi had allocated a portion of his book Seyehatname (Book of Travels) to his life in Ankara and especially Ankara castle.

Inside of the Ankara Castle

Inside of the castle is used as a residential area with more than 600 houses, mostly built of wood and it has very narrow streets. The neighborhood is crucial in that residential area since the houses are very close and facing each other. It has plenty of historical houses, some of them are evolved into restaurants for tourism purposes.

Inside the castle, there is a mosque called “Sultan Alaaddin Camii”. This mosque is an architectural masterpiece with its special windows that maximizes light intake. Inside the castle, there is an inn, a museum, a clock tower made by the French, and a mosque.

Visiting the Ankara Castle

How do you get to Ankara Castle?

Ankara Castle is in Altındağ /Ankara. Transportation is possible through public transportation. You may stop in Sıhhiye station, which is close to the city center Kızılay (one station away from Sıhhiye with subway), in the subway, then take a bus from there and stop in Anafartalar station. After that walk for 15 minutes and get there. You can find different buses that go there according to your starting point. If you are in any other location than Kızılay, you may find direct buses to go there or you may go to Kızılay first and then follow the steps that have been presented to you.

A personal vehicle or taxi may be used while going to the castle. Cars are allowed inside of the castle.

The walking path for the castle is kind of steep.

Hours to visit Ankara Castle

You can visit the castle every day between 07:30 and 18:30.

Entrance fee for Ankara Castle 

It is free to visit the castle, but the museums around and inside (Rahmi M. Koç Museum) of the castle may charge you for entrance.

Best time to visit Ankara Castle 

The best time to visit Ankara Castle is either sunrise or sunset. The view looks amazing, and the golden hour is perfect for taking pictures. It may be a little crowded in sunset hours, so visiting at an early hour is recommended. The most popular visiting days are Saturday and Sunday, which are naturally the most crowded days. If you have time, visiting on weekdays for a quieter trip.

Season wise, the most popular season to visit Ankara Castle is summer. With the festivals inside of the castle, the castle becomes a lot more interesting than usual. Those festivals consist of various art and musical activities, promising a lot of fun time for you.

How long to spend in Ankara Castle?

  1. Spending one to two hours in the castle is recommended. 
  2. This time may change according to your purpose to visit.
  3. Visiting souvenir shops, stopping for a lunch, visiting the museums, or taking pictures will make your visitation longer.

What should you be wearing?

There is no specific dress code to fit, yet since the streets are narrow, steep, and uneven, comfortable clothes are recommended. Wearing dresses, heels or slippers would make your trip extremely difficult because there is a lot of steps; a pair of sneakers would work best.

How much money you should take with you?

Since the castle does not require an entrance fee, you may just bring enough money to buy souvenirs, food, and drink.

Is it safe for children to visit?

There are no obvious dangers for children, yet adult supervision is a must since it is built up high, there are a lot of stairs, and the crowd. Taking your baby is not recommended, carrying them while exploring around may cause trouble for both of you.

History of the Ankara Castle

The exact age of the castle is unknown, yet it is estimated to be built in the time around Hittites and used in the times of Seljuks, Romans, and Ottomans, respectively. It was conquered by Crusaders in the year 1101 during wartime.

According to a legend, the castle was built upon a Phrygian king Midas’ dream. He saw a dream in which he was told to find an anchor around and build a city right there. He gave a command to his men right away to search for this anchor. His men’s finds an anchor in the place now there is the Ankara castle, and Midas builds a city there and names it “Anker”, which means ship anchor. The found anchor is kept in the city temple for many years. This legend refers that Ankara Castle is as old as the city of Ankara.

The castle served a purpose as a protector of the city in times of wars, keeping the whole city safe. The Seljuk’s referred to Ankara as a “protected place” because of Ankara Castle. The castle was shaped like a heart and was surrounding the whole city, but by time and restorations, this shape changed. The reason for the castle staying sturdy after all these years is that each civilization that owned the castle repaired it.

In the times of Jalal rebellions (1603-1608), the third row of the wall was built to the castle to protect the city from plunder, under the leadership of Kadı Vildan Zade Mevlana Ahmed Efendi. Turkish population referred to this third wall as a “dense wall”. Ernest Mamboury, who wrote the “Ankara Guide Touristique” book about the historical and touristic places of Ankara in 1933, writes that he saw the part of this wall that remained in Çankırıkapı in the section titled “Ottoman Wall on the Plain”.

Who is Midas?

Midas is the king of Phrygia between B.S 738 – B.S 696. He is known for the mysterious legends and stories about him and what happened to him. The most famous legend about him is the “Midas’ Ears” legend. This legend is about Midas being punished by monkey ears. The legend continues by Midas trying to hide his ears, yet he fails, everybody makes fun of him and he tries to cut them. Cutting his ears makes things even worse than before. Then Midas cries and begs God for forgiveness. God forgives him and ends his misery by killing him.

Another legend about Midas is “Golden Midas”. This legend explains how Midas’ wish about making every object that he touches gold comes true. Midas was happy about this in beginning, yet this disturbs him over time. He asks for Dionysus’ help and Dionysus tells him to take a bath in the river Pactolus. After he takes a bath in the river Pactolus, he turns back to his former state.

A hidden secret under the Ankara Castle

Besides its historical importance from thousands of years ago, Ankara castle has served in recent history, too. With the help of Germany, a 200 square meters shelter made in world war two, just beneath the castle. The shelter had a capacity of meeting 1200 long term refugees and 3600 short term refugees needs. The shelter is named “Kalealtı shelter”. There is a current discussion as to whether turning this shelter into a museum or not.

Gentrification in Ankara Castle

Like in any other historical place with a residential area, Ankara Castle may also face with gentrification process. Gentrification refers to the increased value of a formerly worthless place in time, and the residents there are forced to get out to improve tourism and letting the rich accumulate the area. There are controversial opinions about if gentrification is occurring in Ankara castle, yet it may be observed over time.

The cultural and touristic value of the Ankara Castle raises concerns of locals living in the castle. This newsworthy worry of locals is increasing as the castle’s popularity among tourists increases.

Places that you should visit in the site

Sultan Alaaddin Mosque

  1. This mosque is at the entrance of the inner castle.
  2. It has a historical significance by being the oldest mosque in Ankara which is made in 1178 and antique column heads and repair inscriptions on the door are worth seeing.
  3. It was made in the timepoint where the Muslims were a minority in that area.
  4. It takes its name from the period that it was repaired, which is in Sultan Alaaddin’s governance period. Resources claim that with its restoration in the 13th and 14th centuries, the mosque lost its historical significance.
  5. Some sources refer to this mosque as “Muradiye mosque” yet locals never use that name.
  6. This mosque is a significant prayer building in terms of cultural and belief tourism.

Rahmi M. Koç Museum

  1. This museum is located at the main entrance of the castle.
  2. It has the importance of being the first industry museum of Ankara.
  3. The museum has two main parts named Çengelhan and Safranhan, which are wonderful buildings that have witnessed history. Their historical and cultural values are incommensurable.
  4. Çengelhan building is over 500 years old and was built in the time of Suleiman The Magnificent. It was built by Groom Rustem Pasha, who is Mihrimah Sultan’s husband
  5. Tools used in industrial machines are displayed in the museum. First typewriter, first television, transportation, and logistic tools are some of the exhibited items.
  6. Safranhan building is also over 500 years old, and it used to be a caravanserai. It was also used as a prison in the first years of the republic. It was built by Pilgrim İbrahim bin Pilgrim Mehmed. It contains two floors, a portico, and 42 rooms.
  7. There are a total of 5 floors in the museum, including a variety of categories to visit.

Visiting hours of Rahmi M. Koç Museum

  1. You can visit the museum between 10:00-18:00 in winter (1 October- 31 March) and between 10:00-19:00 in summer (1 April- 30 September)
  2. The museum is closed on Mondays and the first & eve days of religious holidays.

Ankara Clock Tower

  1. It is located on the Hisar door and was made in the 19th century over the historical buildings and ruins. It is history dates back to very old times, around 200 B.S.
  2. It has three floors.
  3. It was built by Louis Edel in Strasbourg in the year 1884 by the command of Ankara governor Sırrı Pasha, as it is written in the inscription of the tower.
  4. The Clock Tower’s main purpose was to serve as a clock to the shopping area at that time. ” Saman Bazaar” was the main shopping center back then. As wristwatches are not common back then, this tower had a great serving purpose and was indispensable.
  5. It was restored in 2007.
  6. It has been registered as a 3rd-degree urban site work in 1987.
  7. Entrance to the clock tower is through an old Ankara house.

Kalekapı (Ramazan Şemseddin) Masjid

As you walk in through the Hisar door, as you follow the road and walk for a while, there is a masjid on your left. This masjid has neither inscription nor foundation. According to hearsays, it was built in the 17th century. Some parts of the walls are made of stone and some parts of the walls are made of adobe. Yet it has no touristic value because of its neglected and ragged situation.

Eti Museum in Ankara Castle

Another museum in the castle is the “Eti Museum”. In 1921, this museum was built upon Atatürk’s request in Akkale. Later, this museum transformed into the Anatolian Civilizations Museum. That part is now being used as a warehouse, since 1948 and it is closed with all of the pieces in there. Eti Museum is the first museum of the Turkey republic. 

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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