Creating tourism in Ankara

By | Category: Travel destinations

Mehmet Akif Ersoy Literature Museum Library

Fifty years ago, the Ankara suburb of Altindag, was a prosperous area where many wealthy Turks lived. They left and poorer inhabitants moved in. The buildings decayed as the residents had little money to keep up their homes. An imaginative municipality then decided to change things. Buying up these run-down houses (although that seems a grandiose term to describe what was left) has resulted in over 300 restored buildings that have helped the poorer locals as well as attracting tourists.
Ankara doesn’t come quickly to the mind when you consider city destinations. Istanbul, yes but Ankara? And then just to visit one suburb? But a day in Hamamonu, will show you the result of the restoration work. And it isn’t just limited to these 300 buildings. More are being purchased (seventy in 2011 alone says mayor Veysel Tiryaki; more are being renovated and more are becoming sold back to locals at affordable prices. The result is that Hamamonu is one of the few places where you can see what Turkish houses and the area were like a century or so ago. And this is drawing the visitor and their money. Small wonder then that Altindag was named as the Turkish recipient of the 2011 Eden Award (European Tourist Destination of Excellence award.)
Just as you might go within the walls to see the old city of York or to the Tower Bridge area of London to see the beginnings of London, so Altindag is where you’d go to see the beginning of Ankara for here is where the city began. But its not just houses that are being restored. Gardens, public squares and a Turkish Bath have been renovated since the project began about five years ago.
The Mehmet Akif Ersoy Culture Park which was completed in 2010 is a 22,000 square metre oasis of greenery right in the heart of Ankara. In it is Taceddin Dervish Lodge – a building of national pride since this was where the Turkish national anthem was written. Nearby you’ll also find a new museum, the Mehmet Akif Ersoy Literature Museum Library, the only one of its type in Turkey.
Walk further into the area and you might come across Art Street (Sanat Sokagi will be what you see on your map) and here is a group of restored 22 houses where crafts people of all types have been encouraged to produce and sell their wares. So you’ll see paintings, calligraphy, leather gods, ceramics and jewellery amongst the items on sale. As you might expect with this development the area has been reinvigorated. There are now restaurants and shops, outdoor exhibitions and concerts.
So if you’re in Ankara on business and have some time, Hamamonu is the ideal place to see how Ankara began. All in one small area. And if you’re there on holiday, there is more than enough to fill a day.


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image courtesy of Turksoy

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