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ANKARA: OPERA

ANK19East of Heykel in Ulus Atatürk Bulvarı runs out towards Opera Meydanı which takes its name from the Ankara State Opera House that stands here (Atatürk was a big opera fan).

There are three main reasons to come here despite the heavy traffic and sometimes run-down surroundings: there are several important museums, Gençlik Parkı makes a great place to escape the city hassle, and there are lots of cheap hotels.

Around Opera Meydanı

The Opera Binası (Opera House) itself was originally built in 1933-34, but extensively remodelled in Modernist style in 1948 by the German architect, Paul Bonatz (1877-1956).

Across the road and tucked up behind the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkey's finest Carpet Museum hides its light behind the unimaginative - not to mention unintelligible to tourists - title of the Vakıf Eserleri Müsezi (Objects of the Pious Foundations Museum).

Here you can admire some of the extraordinary 17th, 18th and 19th-century carpets that used to adorn Turkey’s finest mosques but have been taken into safekeeping by the Vakıf, the organization that cares for the mosques. Here, too, are displayed some of the items whose theft from the mosques resulted in the need for everything of real value to be removed from them, including pieces of woodwork from the world-heritage-listed complex at Divriği and a remarkable piece of 18th-century embroidery pilfered from a mosque in Nevşehir. Admission is free.

ANK17Across a nightmarish traffic intersection with busy Talat Paşa Bulvarı to the south the Museum of Painting and Sculpture (Resim Heykel Müzesi) perches on Namazgah Tepesi and is housed in an imposing building with a panoramic view over the city. It was designed by Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu in the 1920s.

Because of the Islamic prohibition on creating images of living things, the history of Turkish painting is condensed into the 19th and 20th centuries when attitudes softened, enabling artists to get to work. In effect, then, the Ankara Museum of Painting and Sculpture is as much a showcase for modern art as the better known İstanbul Modern at Tophane.

Indeed, as you amble round the rooms here the same names will jump out at you – Feyhaman Duran, İbrahim Çallı, Hamit Görele, Fahrunissa Zeid, and of course Osman Hamdi Bey whose wonderful “Woman in Fur” and “Weapon Merchant” are on display here. The building itself is not perhaps ideal as a backdrop for modern art. Otherwise, this is a gem of a collection. Admission is free.

Sharing the same elevated location and in a building designed by the same architect as the art gallery, the Ankara Ethnography Museum also houses some wonderful items, especially when it comes to embroidery and woodwork – its piece de resistance is the exquisite 14th-century wooden mihrab removed from the Taşkınpaşa Mosque in Damsa, Cappadocia. In 1938 Atatürk`s body lay in state in this building before it was moved to the Anıtkabir.

ANK16Vakıf Apartmanı now houses the Ankara Theatre and BalletIf you manage to make it back across the traffic intersection the big Gençlik Parkı makes a final place to rest for a while and drink a tea in green surroundings. In İstiklal Caddesi, the street running immediately to the north, the huge Vakıf Apartmanı block was designed by Vakıf Apartmanı between 1928 and 1930. The writer Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar lived here for a while.

Those keen on modern architecture might like to stroll back to the Heykel along Çankırı Caddesi, pausing to inspect some of the fine late 19th and early 20th-century buildings that line the street, many of them now housing banks. The Ziraat Bankasi (1926-29), the old Tekel building (1928) that now houses the Yunus Emre Vakfı and the old Osmanlı Bankasi building (1926) were all designed by the Italian architect, Giulio Mongeri, whose work can also be seen in St Anthony's Cathedral on İstiklal Caddesi in İstanbul.ANK18Old Tekel building on Çankırı Caddesi

Sleeping

Opera Meydanı is home to a string of cheap places to stay aimed at travelling salesmen. They're good choices for male travellers, not ideal for females. Some are complete fleapits with shared bathrooms, others are really quite nice. 

Transport info

Buses plough up and down Çankırı Caddesi all day. Most require that you have bought a ticket before boarding.

ANK20Gençlik Park in winter

 

 

 

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