Saturday, January 5, 2013

26. Angora = Ankara.

The hubster had some business to attend to in the capital this past week, so I tagged along as I so like to do! Ankara is the capital of Turkey and, with a population of ~4.5M, it's the country's second largest city after İstanbul. The highway between İstanbul on the European continent and Ankara on the Asian continent was long, quiet, and more mountainous than anticipated. (Yet, surprisingly, not up-the-mountain down-the-mountain.) The countryside was dotted with small villages with maybe 20 houses surrounding a mosque, and not a single parked car in sight.

Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the Anatolian Plateau at an altitude of 2,800 feet (850 meters). The weather felt colder for sure. The province is mostly fertile wheat steppe land—with forest in the northeast. It's the center of the Turkish government and houses all foreign embassies. It is an important crossroads of trade, strategically located at the center of Turkey's highway and railway networks, and serves as the marketing center for the surrounding agricultural area.

The city was famous for its long-haired Angora goat with its prized mohair wool, a unique breed of Angora cat, white rabbits with their prized Angora wool (the cruelty of that trade is best left for another entire post), pears, honey, and the region's muscat grapes. Um, easy to see why it was, at one point, known as Angora!

Under the Greeks, the history of Ankara thrived. It became a new trading center for goods traveling between the Black Sea and the major cities of the region in every direction. During this Hellenistic/ Byzantine era, the Greeks gave the city its modern name, Ánkyra, which means 'anchor'. The city was an important cultural, trading, and arts center in Roman times as well, and an important trading center on the caravan route to the east in Ottoman times. It had declined in importance by the nineteenth century, but it again became an important center when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk chose it as the base from which to direct the War of Liberation. Because of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared the capital of the new Republic of Turkey in 1923.

What we found was a city more modern than our gritty and chaotic Istanbul. A noticeable amount of green space and considerably less traffic made Ankara seem more laid back and livable than Istanbul—yet we wouldn't choose to live someplace that feels so isolated. Truth be told, he big draw for me was the availability of a U.S. commissary. Hurray for American junk food and bacon! Both of which are hard to find in our city where East meets West.  xx

1 comment:

  1. I am really enjoying all these history lessons.
    Thank you, mom