I went to Ankara
in winter, braving a snowy morning to explore Guven park with its famous "monument to a secure, confident future" and its many other statues and waterfalls. The impressive monument, erected in 1935, is inscribed with Ataturk's famous words, "Turk! Be proud, work hard, and believe in yourself."
Mustafa Kemel Ataturk
, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, is called "Father of the Turks" (that is literally what "Atatürk" means in Turkish). He led the resistance fight against foreign invaders who hoped to control Turkey after World War I. The Turkish Republic was established on October 29, 1923, on secular democratic principles that guaranteed people freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press. Ataturk introduced the Latin alphabet into Turkish, encouraged education, and brought the nation into the modern world. He forged ties with other countries that before had not known Turkey. Ataturk died in 1938, and his memorial museum and mausoleum, Anitkabir, was finished in 1953. Using materials from all over Turkey such as different colored marble, the huge complex was set above Peace Park which features trees from all over the world and is inspired by Ataturk's famous saying, "Peace at home, peace in the world."
You can begin your tour of Anitkabir
at Lion Road, a marble path bordered by 24 lion statues, and then explore the rectangle complex of buildings which house various museums, libraries, art galleries, towers, and life-like recreations of historic battles. You can see Ataturk's cars, clothes, manuscripts, pens, and even his amazing collection of swords decorated with gold and gem-studded hilts, given to him by kings and presidents from all over the world. You can walk acros the massive courtyard by a tall Turkish flag and see real Turkish soldiers keeping watch inside glass guard posts. Every day the soldiers march across the courtyard and down Lion Road.
The mausoleum that features Ataturk's tomb is the most impressive place of all. Torches line the walls, always lit, as sunlight pours through high windows, glistening off marble floors. Pause for a moment at a simple wreath and read Ataturk's words etched into nearby stone:
“Sovereignty is without doubt, the Nation’s.”
Anitkabir is so big that you can barely see everything in one afternoon, and you'll walk your feet off by the time you reach the lower-level cafe that serves strong Turkish tea and pastries. You'll be amazed at the other tourists who visit; I chatted with a group from New Zealand. Before you leave, check out the gift shop that features low-cost picture books and lapel pins. I wanted one that connected the Turkish and American flags, but they were all sold out (I think that is a good thing). I wished I had been able to meet Ataturk in person, but after seeing so much of him at Anitkabir, I felt as if we knew each other.