city and a district in Ankara Province, Central Anatolia, Turkey

Polatlı is a town and municipality in North Central Anatolia, 80 km west of central Ankara, with a population of 128,378 in 2022. It's agricultural, primarily producing grain, with other mixed industry. The main reasons to visit are memorials to the 1921 Battle of the Sakarya, and the ancient city of Gordion, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2023.

Understand edit

 
Gordian Knot within the logo of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism
"The retreat that started in Vienna on 13 September 1683 stopped 238 years later."

That comment by İsmail Habip Sevük refers to the steady loss of Ottoman territory to European powers since defeat at the gates of Vienna. And after the First World War, the Ottomans were on the losing side and their empire was abolished. Large tracts of mainland Turkey were thereby awarded to Greece and Italy, but the Greeks (with dreams of the bygone Hellenistic era) wanted more and marched on Ankara. They won a battle at Eskişehir and the Turks fell back to the Sakarya River near Polatlı, the last defensive position before Ankara itself. On 23 Aug 1921 battle was joined along the 100 km front defined by the river, the Greeks broke through, and Turkey's fate hung by a thread.

After 21 terrible days came a "victorious stalemate:" both armies were spent, but Greece had a worse problem with supply lines and winter was approaching, so they retreated. This was to prove their own Vienna, as Turkey led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk not only reinforced, but by making peace with Russia released troops from their eastern front. Smyrna on the west coast (nowadays Izmir), was the last Greek position to fall, and the Treaty of 1923 consolidated these gains and recognised the modern Republic of Turkey.

This was by no means the first military campaign along the river valley. Gordion, 20 km northwest of Polatlı in the modern village of Yassıhüyük, was capital of the kingdom of Phrygia, which had its heyday around 1200-700 BC. ("Gordion", like "Istanbul", simply meant "the city".) It's best remembered for the legend of the Gordian knot: the oracles decreed that the next man to enter town on an ox-cart would be king. Gordias was the fellow who did so and his son Midas (the king with the golden fingers) enshrined the ox-cart in his palace, secured by a knot so intricate that whoever loosened it should rule all of Asia. The knot remained intact until Alexander the Great rolled up in 333 BC and severed it with his sword. He went on to dominate Asia as far as the Indus river. Legends like this always have pawky morals and political undertones, legitimising some dynasty over another: one message might be that negotiations with uncooperative local chieftains are resolved quicker if you reach for your sword.

Get in edit

Polatlı is on D200/E90 80 km southwest of Ankara and 160 km east of Eskişehir. The highway is divided, fast and toll-free.

Kamil Koç (now owned by Flixbus) runs hourly from Ankara, taking one hour from AŞTİ main bus station for a fare in Jan 2024 of 190 TL. They continue to Eskişehir, another two hours, change there for Istanbul, Bursa and Izmir.

Local Bus 528-3 runs from Ankara every 30 minutes 06:00 to 20:30, making 70 stops from AŞTİ bus station, including Ümitköy metro station, Polatlı town railway station, downtown and the Bus Terminal. These are privately run (ÖTA) buses and the fare is 62 TL as of Nov 2023.

Bus 528 is a commuter extra run by EGO, Ankara's public transport authority. It plies between Ümitköy metro station on line M1 in the western suburbs of Ankara, with two in the morning and evening M-F and once morning and evening on Sundays. The fare in Nov 2023 is 53.50 TL and you may need an Ankarakart to ride it, see Ankara#Get around.

1 Polatlı Bus Terminal is a draughty plaza by the main highway junction south edge of town.

2 Polatlı railway station   is central, and has six regional (bölgesel) services from Ankara daily, taking 70 min via Sincan (for suburban trains) and Malıköy (for railway museum) and costing 75 TL in Nov 2023. These trains aren't bookable, so TCDD's useless website doesn't show them. There are two overnight services with pullman seats and sleeper cars: Ankara Express runs from Istanbul around 22:00 via Izmit, Arifiye (for Adapazarı) and Eskişehir to arrive around 06:00; and Izmir Mavi runs from Izmir around 19:00 via Manisa, Balıkesir, Kütahya and Eskişehir to arrive around 07:00. Book tickets for these on TCDD Taşımacılık.

3 Polatlı YHT   is the high-speed railway station in the fields 4 km southeast. There are seven YHT fast trains daily on the Istanbul–Izmit–Eskişehir–Ankara line, and six on the KaramanKonya–Ankara line. Select "Polatlı YHT" when booking on the TCDD website.

Get around edit

Town is compact, but you need your own wheels for the antiquities and battle memorials.

See edit

  • 1 Sakarya Victory Monument (Sakarya Şehitleri ve Zafer Anıtı). Museum Tu-Su 09:00-17:00, monument 24 hrs. The monument was built in 1973 on a wooded hill just north of the centre. You enter through a military cemetery: turn right for the museum, which exhibits photos and documents from the battle. Then a stairway between 21 pairs of slabs – one for each day and night of the battle – takes you to the flat top of the hill; the stairway is said to symbolize the unknown fate the battle would bring and the relief at its end. On the summit is the main statue of three figures.
  • 2 Sakarya village   is 15 km south, off D695 towards Yunak. Here battle was where joined, and there's a landscaped military cemetery (12. Grup Şehitliği) at the northern edge of the village. Within the village is Halide Edip Adıvar Museum (Halide Edip Adıvar ve Kadın Kahramanlar Müzesi). Adıvar (1884–1964) was a writer, nationalist agitator and an early feminist. She stayed at this house after the battle and documented the damage caused by the scorched earth policy of the retreating Greeks. Wax figures inside the house and in the garden portray the Turkish women's contribution to the war effort.
 
Victory Monument
  • 3 Mehmetçik Monument, Kartaltepe (10 km west, off D200 towards Sivrihisar). W-Su 10:00-17:00. Mehmetçik is the Turkish Tommy, the salt-of-the-earth soldier who stands his watch then stoically marches out to face his fate. This 22-m tall Mehmetçik in his 1921-style uniform signals "stop!" on Kartaltepe hill, where the Greeks were halted. There is a museum on site, and the visitor centre of the national park.    
  • 4 Duatepe Monument (north of Üçpınar village). Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Duatepe was another strategic stronghold on elevated ground. It's now the site of the most extensive set of statues commemorating the battle, including one inspired by a photo of Kemal Atatürk taken while he was observing the battleground on a pair of binoculars. Free.  
  • 5 Gordion, Yassıhüyük (from Polatlı take 06-55 towards Ayaş and then follow the signposts. From the west, turn off D200 at the exit for Beylikköprü), +90 312 638 2188, . Daily 08:30-17:30. This large settlement was the chief city of the Phrygians, and previously a stronghold of the Hittites. It suffered a devastating fire in 800 BC but was rebuilt, only losing its importance under Cimmerian / Persian rule from 540 BC. Its three sites are visited on the same ticket.
  • Gordion Museum is east edge of the village. It displays artifacts from the early Bronze Age through the early Phrygian to Roman periods. Among the latter is a 3rd century floor mosaic found in a nearby village, sized about 50 m2.
  • Midas Mound or the Great Tumulus is across the road from the museum, 50 m tall. Long thought to be the burial chamber of King Midas, it's now believed to be the tomb of his father Gordias. A long tunnel leads into the burial chamber. Huge juniper logs support the tons of dirt above – this part of Anatolia was rich in juniper forests, all but extinct now. Many other burial mounds dot the landscape to the east.
  • Citadel mound (Gordion Kalesi) 1.5 km southwest was the main settlement. After the Cimmerians, it was held awhile by the Lydians expanded from the southwest then the Persians. It was a road stop for the Romans, and occupied into medieval times. Adult 60 TL.    
 
House tiles in Gordion Museum
  • 6 Hacıtuğrul Mound (Hacıtuğrul Höyüğü) was an extensive Phrygian settlement associated with Gordion. It was excavated in the 1970s; in 2024 it's fenced off. (No direct turn-off eastbound on D200, leave at the industrial estate 4 km west and join the flanking frontage lane.)
  • 7 Hacıtuğrul Mausoleum is up a dirt track 3 km north of Hacıtuğrul village. Next to nothing is reliably known of Hacı Toğrul Baba, except that he was an acquaintance of the 13th century Sufi saint Hacı Bektaş Veli, who likewise gave his name to the village where he settled, away to the southeast.
  • 8 Malıköy Railway Station Museum (TCDD Malıköy Tren İstasyonu Müzesi), Malıköy (37 km northeast; regional trains call here), +90 312 640 1081. M-F 09:00-17:00. The war against Greece was won as much through logistics as by battlefield heroics. Malıköy was the logistics centre and railhead, where ammo and other essentials were transferred onto donkey carts, or backs of the women. The museum displays various transport used during the campaign, including a German-made steam locomotive and a biplane. Free.  
  • 9 Alagöz Headquarters Museum (Alagöz Karargâh Müzesi), Alagöz (39 km northeast). Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Converted to a museum in 1968, this farmhouse served as the military headquarters of the frontline. You'll be lucky to find it open.  

Do edit

  • Football: Polatlıspor toil away in the amateur regional leagues. For pro football head into Ankara, where MKE play in Süper Lig the top tier.
  • Fitness centres: half a dozen. Ergüden Gym is well-equipped and central, at Menteşe Cd 5.
  • Golf: Regnum Golf is 40 km northeast towards the edge of Ankara.
  • Bloodbath at the Sakarya is a two-person board game published in 2006 (old school, with dice), simulating the Battle of the Sakarya. Play with discretion, as the Greeks may win this version.

Buy edit

 
Regional trains call at Malıköy

Lots of little stores. A101 are the main chain, with an outlet near the station at Altay Cd 9, open daily 09:00-21:00.

Eat edit

Lots of little eating places downtown, no standout.

Drink edit

Cafes may serve alcohol; there isn't a free-standing pub.

Sleep edit

 
The Midas Mound at Gordion
  • Ikbalhan Otel, Atatürk Cd 41 (by town railway station), +90 312 623 2601. Simple but clean hotel by the station. B&B double 1000 TL.
  • Otel Defne faces the station at Ankara Cd 6.
  • Hotel MDS is a short block south at Sivrihisar Cd 25.
  • 1 Miraç Golden Palace Hotel, Battalgazi Cd, +90 312 623 4150. Central, friendly, spacious, cleaning erratic. B&B double 1000 TL.
  • Grand Sakarya Hotel next to Golden Palace gets rotten reviews.
  • 2 Abdullah Resort Otel, Nasrettin Hoca Blv 9, +90 312 624 4242. By the highway south edge of town, so this is a good choice for motorists. Reasonably clean and efficient, the cigarette pong is no worse than anywhere else. B&B double 1500 TL.

Connect edit

Polatlı and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Jan 2024, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next edit

  • Sivrihisar is the next town west. It has a preserved historic quarter with a UNESCO-listed mosque, and the major Phrygian site of Pessinus near town.
  • The outermost suburbs of Ankara are around the corner to the east.
  • Beyond more farmland and barren hillsides to the north are the old towns of Ayaş and Beypazarı.


Routes through Polatlı
BursaSivrihisar  W   E  AnkaraAdana
AfyonkarahisarSivrihisar  W   E  → Haymana → Ankara
IstanbulEskişehir ← Junction S  W   E  AnkaraSivas




This city travel guide to Polatlı is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.