Central Anatolia (Turkish: İç Anadolu) is a region of Turkey. It extends over the country's central plateau, which is mostly a steppe.
- 1 Ankara — the second largest city in Turkey, the capital of both the region and the whole country
- 2 Afyonkarahisar (also known as Afyon) — a traditional city with an impressive hilltop citadel
- 3 Aksaray
- 4 Beypazarı — an Ottoman old town with a lively bazaar on the Silk Road
- 5 Çankırı
- 6 Divriği — the site of the elegant, Seljuk-built Great Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage site
- 7 Eskişehir — a fairly liberal riverside university town with pleasant bridges and sculptures
- 8 Kırşehir is a large modern town with several antiquities. Çağırkan Japanese Garden is 30 km northwest towards Kaman.
- 9 Hacıbektaş — the site of the shrine of Hacı Bektaş Veli, a 13th century Sufi saint whose teachings led to the foundation of the Alevi-Bektashi interpretation of Islam
- 10 Karaman — a city midway between Konya and Adana, stopover en route to Northern Cyprus
- 11 Kayseri — a large city near Mt. Erciyes, a wintersports resort
- 12 Niğde is near Gümüşler Monastery, carved from the bedrock.
- 13 Konya — the site of Rumi's mausoleum, and many beautiful Seljuk monuments
- 14 Kütahya — a town famous for its tile/faience tradition since Ottoman times; the hub for visiting the Temple of Zeus in Aizonai
- 15 Nevşehir — the capital of Cappadocia
- 16 Sandıklı — a town notable for its hot springs
- 17 Sivas — the site of a Seljuk Madrese complex, as well of the Congress of Sivas that planned the Turkish War of Independence.
- 1 Aizanoi (Çavdarhisar) — if you're around, the immense Temple of Zeus of this ancient city is well worth a visit
- 2 Cappadocia — a land of "fairy chimneys" and underground cities
- 3 Çatalhöyük — one of the earliest known towns (7500-5700BCE), a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 4 Hattusa — the ancient Hittite capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 5 Nallıhan Bird Reserve — wetlands with birdwatching facilities and the views of the striking 'Rainbow Hills' across
Apart from the obvious steppe landscapes and the moonscape of Cappadocia, Central Anatolia offers a wealth of sights dating back to a diverse array of civilizations.
While the locals of the region nowadays are by and large known for their conservative worldview, pockets of youth-, and tourism-driven liberalism in Ankara, Cappadocia, and most particularly in the university town of Eskişehir make the contemporary culture of the region a quite diverse one.
Çatalhöyük, which existed approximately between 7500 BC and 5700 BC in the steppes east of Konya, was the first settlement ever found in the territory of what is Turkey today, and indeed it was one of the oldest spots with a sedentary lifestyle in all of the World.
The first major state that rose to power in Central Anatolia was the Kingdom of the Hittites, an ancient Indo-European speaking nation and contemporary (and often at war) with Pharaonic Egypt. The Hittites occupied most of Central Anatolia as well as large chunks of the neighbouring regions, as far south as Syria.
Later in the 10th century BC, the Phrygians arrived from northwest, most likely from Thrace in the southeastern Balkan Peninsula, settling in the western reaches of the region. The Phrygians carved still-impressive open air temples on the sides of sacred mountains for their mother goddess Cybele.
Invaded by the Lydians from the west and the Persians from the east, the region was then overrun over by the army of Alexander the Great who cut the Gordian Knot in Gordion, the Phyrgian capital, the ruins of which can still be seen about 80 km southwest of Ankara.
Then came the Celts in 278 BC, who once occupied all across Europe from the British Isles to Central Anatolia, and founded the Kingdom of Galatia in central northern parts of the region. They were defeated by the Romans, who kept the name and administered the region as the Province of Galatia.
Central Anatolia, Cappadocia in particular, was one of the hideouts of often-oppressed early Christians, who established underground cities and hidden churches to avoid persecution. The Byzantines kept the tradition of turning natural landscape of Cappadocia into a religious one, with gorgeously painted churches chipped into naturally-occurring "fairy chimneys".
After the Battle of Manzikert of 1071 which took place in Eastern Anatolia, the Turkic tribes started to appear in Central Anatolia, which is indeed the region with the longest history of Turkic settlement in what is now Turkey, possibly due to the similarity of the region to their homeland in Central Asia in terms of geography. The tribes united into the Sultanate of Rum (Seljuqs), which had its heartland in the region.
After the demise of the Sultanate, the regional administration dissolved into a number of smaller emirates, out of which an outsider one, the Ottomans, took over all others one by one. During most of the period of the Ottoman Empire, which centred itself more on the Marmara Region and the Balkans, the region was seen as a backwater—which may explain the absence of large scale Ottoman monuments in the region—integrating with outside markets only in the late 19th century with the arrival of the Berlin–Baghdad railway, one of the most ambitious projects of the age of colonialism.
The climate is semi-arid and continental; hot, dry summers (around 28-32°C during the day, 1-4 days of rain a month), mild (although in the case of spring, stormy) transitional seasons, and cold, snowy winters (around freezing during the day, 10-15 days of precipitation a month). Snow can stay on the ground for the majority of winter in colder locations.
While Ankara's Esenboğa (ESB IATA) is the main international airport in the region, it's not on par with the airports of most other capital cities as it has few international connections and you usually have to transfer via one of Istanbul's airports when approaching from out of country.
Konya (KYA IATA), Kayseri (ASR IATA), and Sivas (VAS IATA) also have airports with fairly frequent domestic services.
Ankara is well-served by passenger trains from almost anywhere in the country with a rail line. Most lines have at least one daily service. Eskişehir is served by trains from the northwest and west to Ankara, while trains from the east pass through Sivas and Kayseri first on their way to Ankara. Trains from the south also pass through Kayseri.
Well-paved and wide highways, usually in motorway standards, connect the region to all directions.
This is a dry landlocked region with few navigable rivers and no water transport for passengers. You might try your luck with a canoe instead.
Eskişehir, Ankara, Konya, Kayseri, and Sivas are the main regional hubs for buses.
Most of the Turkish high speed rail network is within the region; Eskişehir, Ankara, Konya, Karaman, and Sivas are served by frequent services between each other.
- Seljuk-built monuments are found in several cities, particularly Konya, Kayseri, and Sivas. They have majestic portals and exquisite masonry.
- Tuz Gölü means Salt Lake. It's in the very centre of Central Anatolia, between Ankara, Konya, and Aksaray. It's Turkey's second largest lake after Lake Van, but at most two metres deep.
- Karapınar Desert 100 km east of Konya is an expanse of dunes, checked by afforestation from engulfing Karapınar town.
- Prince Mikasa Memorial Garden, Çağırkan (8 km east of Kaman). Daily 08:00-19:00. A hillside Japanese garden combining all traditional design elements. The perimeter of the garden, which seamlessly morphs into the barren outcrops towering over, is marked by serene Scots pine stands, all in a great contrast with the open fields and arid steppes below. Its unlikely location is due to the excavations conducted by Japanese archaeologists at the Kalehöyük mound next door; the finds are exhibited in an adjacent museum. Free; museum 50 TL.
Most of the local cuisine depends on wheat and mutton, two major agricultural products of this arid steppe region. Cappadocia, however, features some vegetable-based local food thanks to its more fertile soil and the Macedonian immigrants who were settled in the area in 1920s.
The main wine areas in the region are the Kızılırmak valley east of Ankara (particularly the towns of Kalecik and Akyurt, where the award-winning Kavaklıdere Winery is based), and Cappadocia.
Beware of ticks (kene) in the northern parts of the region (the rural areas of Tokat, Amasya, Çorum, Yozgat and Sivas Provinces), between April and October when they are active. The area is home to the ticks that belong to the Hyalomma genus, which are known to be a vector for the fatal Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF, Turkish: Kırım Kongo Kanamalı Ateşi or KKKA). Not all ticks in the region belong to this genus, but if you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by one, attend a hospital immediately, preferably with the tick itself (experts advise against removing it from your body yourself as this may result in its mouth breaking apart which may rise the likelihood of an infection and makes it harder for the medical staff to correctly identify the tick).
This is an area of long distances across monotonous landscapes so if you are driving, beware of road fatigue. A cup of coffee is always a good excuse to take a break now and then.