From Past to Present: Ankara and Çankaya


Ankara is the capital of Turkey. But Ankara’s history doesn’t start with modern Turkey. The history of Ankara can be traced back to the Bronze Age Hatti civilization, which was succeeded in the 2nd millennium BC by the Hittites, in the 10th century BC by the Phrygians, and later by the Lydians, Persians, Macedonians, Galatians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans.

The oldest settlements in and around the city center of Ankara belong to the Hatti civilization which thrived during the Bronze Age. The city significantly grew in size and importance under the Phrygians starting from around 1000 BC, experiencing a large expansion following the mass migration from Gordion, the capital of Phrygia, after an earthquake which severely damaged that city in antiquity. Phrygian rule was succeeded first by Lydian and later by Persian rule, though the strongly Phrygian character of the peasantry remained, as evidenced by the gravestones of the much later Roman period. Persian sovereignty lasted until the Persians' defeat at the hands of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great. Ankara was conquered by Alexander the Great in 333 BC, who came from Gordion to Ankara and stayed in the city for a short period. After his death at Babylon in 323 BC and the subsequent division of his empire amongst his generals, Ankara and its environs fell into the share of AntigonusBy that time the city also took its name Áγκυρα-Ànkyra (meaning Anchor in Greek) which is still used by the Turks with the slightly modified form of Ankara.

The city was subsequently conquered by Augustus in 25 BC and passed under the control of the Roman Empire. Now the capital city of the Roman province of Galatia, Ancyra continued to be a center of great commercial importance. Augustus decided to make Ancyra one of three main administrative centres in central Anatolia. An estimated 200,000 people lived in Ancyra in good times during the Roman Empire, a far greater number than was to be the case after the fall of the Roman Empire until the early 20th century.

In the later 4th century Ancyra became something of an imperial holiday resort. After Constantinople became the East Roman capital, emperors in the 4th and 5th centuries would retire from the humid summer weather on the Bosphorus to the drier mountain atmosphere of Ancyra.

In 1071, the Seljuk Sultan Alparslan opened the gates of Anatolia for the Turks with his victory at the Battle of Manzikert. Another Turkic ruler, Timur, defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Ankara in 1402 and captured the city, but in 1403 Ankara was again under Ottoman control. Following the Ottoman defeat at World War I, the Ottoman capital Constantinople and much of Anatolia were occupied by the Allies. In response, the leader of the Turkish nationalist movement, Kemal Atatürk, established the headquarters of his resistance movement in Ankara in 1920 (see Treaty of Sèvres and Turkish War of Independence). After the War of Independence was won, the Turkish nationalists replaced the Ottoman Empire with the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923. A few days earlier, Ankara had replaced Constantinople as the new Turkish capital city, on October 13, 1923.

Ankara is one of the world's oldest capital cities, having been a major urban center, though not a capital, for far longer than cities like London, Paris or Madrid; even İstanbul.

Today, Ankara With a population of 4,587,558 in the urban center (2014) and 5,150,072 in its province (2015), is Turkey's second largest city behind İstanbul. Also in 1927, Ankara’s population was 75,000.


Çankaya is the central metropolitan district of the city of Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and an administrative district of Ankara Province. It became the central district of Ankara in 1936. On 1984 local elections, Çankaya received the status of Ankara’s Central District Municipality and elected for the first time its mayor and municipal council. Of all the 24 districts of Ankara; Çankaya is the heart of the capital that is continuously growing and developing. This characteristic reinforcing Municipality’s vision and strategies along Ankara’s history and Çankaya’s related importance.

Çankaya is the largest district of Ankara. It encompasses 124 neighborhoods and covers a land area of 268 km2 (103 sq mi). Çankaya’s center position regarding the capital can understood with population figures. Its resident population is nearly 1 million. Daytime population is more than 2 million. Henceforth, it has more population than a lot of cities of Turkey.

Apart from figures; Çankaya’s history also reflects its crucial place. Since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, Çankaya has been as symbol for the Republic of Turkey. It can be said that Çankaya’s history begins with the Early Republican history due to the fact that it had special and strategic place in politics of the newly found republic. For instance, several institutions like Prime Ministry and house of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk were focal points in development of the district. In conjunction with this peculiarity, Ankara’s selection of capital brings new status for Çankaya and makes the district as a new point of attraction for development.

Çankaya is the center of political life. Primary reason is that, since the foundation of Republic in 1923, it has been encompassed state’s leading executive organs within its boundaries. The Grand National of Assembly, the Prime Ministry, the Presidency of the Turkish Republic, 20 Ministries; Land Forces Command, Naval Forces Command, Air Forces Command, Gendarmerie General Command, Coast Guard; important public institutions, headquarters of the international organizations such as the United Nations, European Union, UNESCO, etc. and 114 foreign missions are situated within the borders of Çankaya.

Çankaya has been center for Ankara’s economical life. To put it in another way, Çankaya is the focal point of Ankara’s trade and working life. Numbers can understand such peculiarity. There are more than 80 thousand premises/working places in Çankaya. Also most of these institutions headquarters are within the borders of Çankaya.

Çankaya is not only Ankara’s but also Turkey’s center for education, scientific and academic research. Four state universities, six foundation universities including leading universities of Turkey and Turkish Military Academy are in Çankaya. Numbers of university students exceed 100 thousand. The National Library of Turkey and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) are within the district’s borders.

Çankaya’s pivotal place in political and economic spheres also manifest itself in the districts status as the center of attraction and entertainment not only for the rest of capital city but also for neighboring cities as well. Such attractive nature is reflected in daytime population; as it is bigger than night population. In comparison with Ankara’s other big districts, Çankaya has an unique character in a way that it maintains dynamic power due to schools, public institutions and artisan activities. Moreover at night it continues to preserve and further colorizes this dynamic power which brings to the fore the district’s entertaining and cultural identity. For instance, it encompasses popular venues such as Tunalı Hilmi, Bahçelievler within the borders. It is also center for Ankara’s cultural occasions like museums, concerts, shows, theatres and cinemas. Ankara Film Festival, International Women’s Film Festival, Ankara International Music Festival, Jazz Festival, International Theatre Festival can be given as examples.