Our time in Ankara was characterized not by racing around to see tourist sites but by being surrounded by people. Generous people, warm people, welcoming people. We arrived as strangers and within instants were friends. Those kinds of people. It was a really great trip. 

One of the few touristy things we did accomplish, though, was to see the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who was a leader in the Turkish War of Independence, and subsequently established the Republic of Turkey. He was its first president, and led social, political and religious reforms throughout the country. He died at the age of 57 of cirrhosis, and is now buried in Ankara at the site Anıtkabir, which overlooks the city. 

5 Interesting Facts About Atatürk 

  • Atatürk established a committee to change Turkish script to a Latin-based alphabet, rather than Arabic script.
  • Atatürk” actually means “Father of the Turks,” and nobody in Turkey is allowed to use the surname. It was given to him in 1934.
  • Atatürk adopted 12 daughters and 1 son.
  • It is against Turkish law to insult Atatürk’s remembrance or images depicting him.
  • Atatürk worked hard to promote equity for women, including in politics. By 1935, there were women serving as representatives. Women’s suffrage in Turkey took place before France, Italy, and Belgium, to name a few.
The men’s statue group. On the left, the young intellectual, on the right the soldier, and behind, the farmer. 

Women’s statue group. The women’s determined expressions represents the strength of Turkish women, despite Ataturk’s death (the woman in the back is weeping in grief). The wreath they are holding shows the abundance of the country.

A lion from the Road of Lions. These flank the road on the way to the tomb itself.

The flowers all over the grounds of Anitkabir were beautiful and perfectly tended.

Ceremonial Plaza with the Hall of Honor, where the tomb is placed.

The symbolic sarcophagus. The real one is down below, and there is a live-feed video of it in the museum.

Two of the “towers”

Ataturk’s ceremonial car

Ataturk’s boat