Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Anatolian Civilization Museum and the Ankara Citadel

Yoshino and I met around 9am at the Dolmus Otogar to take the dolmus to Ulus. Our plan for the day was to visit the Anatolian Civilization Museum and the Ankara Citadel. We arrived in Ulus at about 9:40am after leaving campus at 9:30. We would have gotten there sooner, but a truck carrying cars had to stop on the freeway because it could not clear an underpass. The truck actually ended up turning around and going backwards up the freeway. The thing I love about this country is, do whatever works the best. He had no where else to go, so he just went slowly up the freeway until he can turn around and get off.



We started to walk up the street in the direction of the citadel and museum, when we started coming across about 100 police officers with riot gear and automatic weapons. Considering that I have only seen automatic weapons at Lawrence Livermore, it was a little unnerving up close. As we proceeded up the street, we encountered more police and then military armed guards. What was going on was some sort of honor ceremony at the Ataturk Monument. It is a monument to the contributions Ataturk and the veterans gave to the revolutionary war effort. A military band was present along with many honor guards. It is really sad that such security is needed to have such a demonstration. I actually called Damla to make sure we were not walking into a potential riot.



We continued on up the hill where we had to bust out my guidebook to find the museum. We finally made it and paid the admission of 10 YTL. This is pretty pricey compared to the other museums in Ankara which only charge 2 YTL, but I think it was worth it over all. All of the signs are in English which is always appreciated. Entering the grounds, one of the first things you notice is that there are a lot of large stone pots around. According to my Lonely Planet guidebook, the museum is built in a 15th century bedesten (market vault) which comprises the center most room.



Most of the museums collection is housed on a series of rooms that wrap around the central room which houses large stone carvings from various areas of Anatolia. I guess now is as good a time as any to say that Anatolia is the high plains region on which Ankara sits. It was inhabited and conquered by many different races throughout the centuries because of its centralized location for trade routes. The museum itself it really well laid out and organized. Looking at the pictures that I have posted is probably the best way to get a sense of the history portrayed here. Most of the pictures of artifacts come with a picture of the sign describing it, either before or after the picture of the artifact. The one things I can say about this museum is that it was organized well, and it seemed to be kept up rather well. They are very proud of the fact that they were voted the best European Museum in 1997. I think I'll let the pictures speak for the museum, and people can ask questions about more specifics. See, I want interaction...



After spending about two and half hours at the museum, we finally headed up the hill behind the museum to find the Citadel. Because the citadel is a fortified city, the entrance is just a small hole in the wall. We entered through the southern entrance which is overlooked by a clock tower. Walking in, there is a shop on either side of the entrance. Beyond the entrance is a small courtyard. There are a few restaurants located here. The first is the Kale Washington, which is listed in the guidebook as being slightly upscale and that Hillary Clinton was supposed to have eaten here. I don't know if that's true or not, but the restaurant was not physically fancy by western standards but the wait staff was dressed in black and white. The other restaurant is the Zenger Pasa Konagi which is where we ate at because it was supposedly cheaper. The restaurant is three stories, all of which are dimly lit if at all. It really felt like we were going back in time, or at least thousands of miles away from campus or Kizilay. We ended up sitting on the outside deck on the second floor because it was cooler. Upon reaching the second floor, you can see a woman making bread in a small wood burning fireplace.



I think word has gotten out that their restaurant is in a guidebook, because the food here is not cheap and the portions not large. The two redeeeming factors about this place was that the view was utterly amazing, looking out across most of Ankara, and the chicken that was cooked in a tomato sauce in a ceramic dish was fantastic. It came with a few loaves of the freshly baked bread as well. Yoshino got an eggplant salad because it was the only thing she could find that was light on the menu. She asked for about 4 different salads but was told they were out of all of them. There was also a man and woman who were definitely Americans. We ended up talking to them afterwards and found out that they were working at the American Embassy on short term projects. We ended up deciding to find the first fortification with them. Walking through the streets, you could tell that the people who lived here were by no means wealthy. Most of the roofs were in need of repair, the streets were uneven, and a lot of the houses were crumbling and vacant. We finally found our way, and got to cruise around the fortification. You can see the ports were archers would be stationed. Unlike in the US, there were no guard railings, no security, and definitely no one to tell you that you couldn't play as much as you liked. In fact, as I as climbing around on the top level, I noticed that the drop was about 100 feet at least. In California, that would be a law suit waiting to happen...



We had seen an additional fortification in the distance, and decided to go check it out. Although it was a really hot day, it was a good excuse to explore the streets some more. Although the streets are somewhat like a maze, they are easy to navigate using just intuition. We finally got to the second fortification and found out it was fenced off with barbed wire. Taking the hint that there was no trespassing allowed, we headed back to Ulus to take the bus back to Kizilay.



There are three types of buses in Ankara. First is the Dolmus (which I'll blog about soon enough), city buses that can only be ridden if you have pre-bought tickets, or buses that have a man in the back who takes YTLs. The cost for all these modes of transportation is 1.5YTL per trip. We took a bus which took money back to Kizilay where we hoped on a Dolmus for the ride back to campus. Since it had been a really long day, I took a shower and updated this blog a bit. It was a really fun day...


2 comments:

timo said...

That note about the truck driver reminded me of when I was in Italy with a youth group. Pino, the driver of our chartered bus, missed our exit and realized it a few seconds too late. The entrance ramp from that same location merged into the freeway a few hundred yards past the exit, so he just backed the bus down the entrance ramp. Fun times.

Mom said...

Your info about the Dolmus and they way people drive reminds of the bus in the Harry Potter movie which squinches up and goes between the other buses. Are the buses crowded? If so, are there hand-holds for people standing? Are they long buses or the mid-sized ones. In Puerta Vallarta, some bus drivers decorate their dashboard with personal objects and fabric (i.e. curtain-type valances). Do they do that there?