Guest Author - Rachel Schaus
The capital of Turkey is Ankara. It is a city which has grown from 12,000 people in 1915 to over 4 million in 2012. What caused it to grown in modern times was the beloved President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Father of modern Turks, who established Ankara as the new capital of modern Turkey in 1923.
Ankara was a place of some power before 1923, however. It was a trade and regional administrative center in Roman times, the place where King Midas of Greek mythology is said to have been born, and also the place where Roman emperors, starting around 400 AD used it as a summer capital to escape the summer heat of Italy.
Ankara is located in the region known as Central Anatolia. It is characterized by rolling hills and steppes, and through the Roman, Byzantine, and now modern eras as the "wheat basket" of Turkey. Remains of ancient Hittite, Roman, Greek, and Byzantine civilizations can be seen in the Museum of Old Anatolian Civilization which showcases 10,000 years of human history.
The old form of the name "Ankara" is "Angora" ...a world famous wood center. Wool is plentiful in Turkey, with many wool and craft shops.
It is impossible to go anywhere in Turkey and not see a picture of Kemal Ataturk in even the lowliest of offices and restaurants and also find streets and highways named after him in every section of Turkey. All Turkish government officials visit Ataturk's Mausoleum in Ankara upon taking office.
Ankara appears to visitors as a very modern city. Major highways, modern conveniences, luxury appliances, as well as Starbucks, McDonalds and Burger King and numerous shopping malls make it a pleasant place to visit and live. But just underneath the glossy veneer is an old Turkish culture which requires sensitivity and adjustment for those coming to live.
Some cultural differences to be sensitive to include male-female interactions. Women should not look into a man's eyes for more than necessary, even when making a purchase in the local pazar (bazaar). It is not polite to laugh loudly or make noise publically....Americans are especially known for impropriety on the streets. Even in the capital, dress modestly - shoulders covered for the ladies, and no shorts for the guys.
Of course as a tourist, Turks will be polite, but to have an easier time while visiting or to ease your transition to living in Ankara, dress and behave more modestly and you will be off to a good start!