Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Ankara
“In my opinion, a nation that is dignified, honourable, respectable and humane will always have the chance of becoming independent.”
The Antikabir (funerary monument) of the founder of the state of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in Ankara really lives up to the expectations of such a monument: a sublime, extensive park area filled with stelae, towers, flagpoles and halls of honour built from the most elegant stone:
Sculptures and lion figures made from travertine, reliefs and columns of cream-coloured, red and black marble – nowhere else in Turkey has the memorial to the state’s founder, who died in 1938, been so completely immortalised in stone as in Ankara.
Even the building plot for the mausoleum, which was constructed in the late 1940s, is steeped in history: the Rasattepe burial mound, from the twelfth century BC, was chosen in deference its historical links. In November 1953, 15 years after his death, Atatürk was reburied in the specially-made sepulchre on the ground floor of the hall of honour.
The entire site, spanning over 750,000 square metres, is strictly symmetrical in its layout. Visual axes, rows of towers and rectangular wings of the building are arranged around the area, upon which 50,000 trees have also been planted to soften the view. Reliefs and decorative work with Seljuk and Ottoman motifs contrast with the stone-block architecture.
A couple of surprising highlights: the 33 metre flagpole on the central square, made from a single unit, is the highest in Europe. Atatürk’s official car, a black Lincoln limousine, and his privately used Cadillac from the 1930s are on show, as is the gun carriage upon which the “Father of Turkey” was carried through the streets of Istanbul after his death in 1938.
“We do not receive our inspirations from heaven or an unknown power, but directly from life itself.”
The Antikabir one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Turkish capital city, with over 12 million people visiting the impressive site every year.