North Central Anatolia is the northern third of Central Anatolia. It's not an administrative region but roughly corresponds to the Provinces of Ankara, Kırıkkale, Çankırı, Yozgat and Sivas.
- 1 Ankara the national capital is the country's second largest city after Istanbul.
- 2 Beypazarı is an Ottoman old town with a lively bazaar on the Silk Road.
- 3 Polatlı is the base for visiting ancient Gordion and the memorials to the Turkish War of Independence.
- 4 Kırıkkale is large and industrial.
- 5 Çankırı is a traditional town at the base of a spur dominated by a Roman fortress.
- 6 Yozgat is a city in the mountains with little reason to visit.
- 7 Sivas is the site of a Seljuk madrasah complex, and of the Congress of Sivas that planned the Turkish War of Independence
- 8 Divriği has an elegant Great Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is a stretched-out, loosely defined geographical region, but it roughly corresponds to the east-west travel corridor via Ankara. Historically there was no single trunk route, but traders, pilgrims and soldiers plodded along a network of valleys and dusty lanes, all of which could be described as "the Silk Road". For example when Tamburlaine stormed out of central Asia in 1402, he inconsiderately declined to take the route where the Ottomans stood in strength, and he almost snuffed out their new dynasty before it got started. The modern traveller zips across this region by fast highway or train, but the places these flying-carpets now bypass are worth exploring, as they have as much of the old architecture and culture as the earthquakes have spared.
Get in edit
- The best connected airport is Ankara Esenboğa (ESB IATA) - from abroad you'll probably need to change in Istanbul (either IST or SAW), but onward flights are hourly.
- YHT fast trains converge on Ankara from Istanbul, Sivas, Konya and Karaman.
- All your patience will be needed for the slow trains from further away: from west Europe via either Bucharest or Sofia to Istanbul, from Izmir and Adana, and from the far east of Turkey.
- Motorways and equivalent fast highways link all the main cities. Buses between Istanbul and Ankara depart at least hourly round the clock and take eight hours.
Get around edit
Buses and trains get you between the city centres, but several have outlying sights, where you need your own wheels. There's car hire, or negotiate with a taxi driver to take you around for a few hours.
- Ankara is a must-see for its many museums and antiquities, notably the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. But perhaps the most memorable is Anıtkabir, the vast Art Deco shrine to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
- Polatlı is near Gordion, capital of the Phrygian kingdom, now an archaeological site and since 2023 a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Hattusha near Boğazkale was capital of the Hittite realm.
- Medieval heritage: Seljuk monuments in Sivas, numerous mosques from the Ahis (a cross between a fraternity and a guild) in Ankara, and the UNESCO-listed mosque and hospital from the Mengüceks in Divriği.
- Beypazarı and Çankırı are the best-preserved old Ottoman towns.
- Nallıhan Bird Reserve 33 km west of Beypazarı is a wetland in what was once an inland sea, but dried up until a modern barrage lake re-flooded the valley.
- Early republican history: Sivas was where Atatürk drummed up military and political support against Greek invasion, and the tide of battle was turned near Polatlı.
- Salt caves can be toured beneath Çankırı. This area doesn't have much limestone so it lacks karstic caves.
- Several areas have hot springs, supplying traditional hamams (Turkish baths) and modern spa hotels. Examples near Ankara are Kızılcahamam north and Haymana south of the city.
- Football: teams playing soccer in Süper Lig the top tier are in Ankara and Sivas.
- Fitness centres are found in the larger towns.
- Ankara has a programme of international festivals: classical music, jazz, cinema and so on.
Turkish, Turkish, Turkish. The country never drew in much migration from other cultures, and ejected the Greeks in 1923, so it doesn't have the cosmopolitan cuisine seen in west European cities. Even Ankara has only a smattering of Chinese and Korean eateries, however it did have migration from other parts of the country, so regional cuisines are well represented.
Most cafes and restaurants serve beer, wine and rakı. Free-standing bars are uncommon in Turkey away from the beach resorts, but the south side of Ankara has a pub strip.
Stay safe edit
Dress for the weather, take care of valuables and beware traffic, same as anywhere else. This region has no climate extremes or conspicuous natural hazards.
Go next edit
- Black Sea Turkey to the north: the coast strip from Amasra to Samsun and Trabzon is undiscovered by western tourists. Zonguldak is a post-industrial blot on the landscape.
- Eastern Anatolia to the east: towns huddled in valleys beneath rugged mountains, all the way to Turkey's eastern borders.
- South Central Anatolia to the south has traditional old towns such as Konya, broad windy steppes, and the "fairy chimneys" of Cappadocia.
- Western Anatolia to the west has ancient hilltop forts such as Afyon, Roman ruins at Aizanoi, Islamic tile work at Kütahya, and the liberal student atmosphere of Eskişehir.