Enjoy a half-day city tour of Turkey's modern capital this morning. Ankara is a very old city, founded in 2000 BC, and there are several Roman ruins scattered throughout the metropolis. Archaeologists have also found artifacts that date to pre-Roman periods. But you'll find that much of Ankara's character is sophisticated and modern, from the educational institutions to the art galleries, from the music to the architecture. There are three symphony orchestras and five theaters, offering classic performances of ballet, opera, modern dance, and drama. On many levels, Ankara has become the cultural and political center of Turkey.
In the oldest part of Ankara, we'll venture to Ankara Castle, high on a hill overlooking the city. Little remains of the original complex, built by the Galatians, but much of the architecture from its Roman, Byzantine, and Selçuk eras may still be admired. We'll tour the old town just inside the castle walls, an area where the traditional housing was concentrated during the 16th century for protection within the fortifications. Other highlights of the castle district include the Roman theater, the Temple of Augustus, the Roman Bath, and the Column of Julian.
We'll then visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the finest Hittite museum in the country. It details the many cultures that have inhabited this region, starting as far back as the Paleolithic Age. The museum houses a priceless collection of artifacts from Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Persian, Galatian, and Roman times. The two buildings themselves, a caravansary (an overnight site for caravans) and a bedesten (covered bazaar), are Ottoman structures that date to the 15th century. Vendors abound in this area, adding to the local color with their fragrant spices, dried fruits, and traditional Turkish handcrafts for sale.
After lunch on your own, you have the afternoon free to explore the city center. Though Ankara's origins are from ancient times, most of the city is modern and well planned. You can stroll its wide boulevards, take a quiet walk in a groomed park, or browse its elegant boutiques.
Rejoin the rest of your group this evening for an included dinner at our hotel.