Once upon a time, there was a large expanse of land, full of nothing: Anatolia. It was empty, desolate and uninhabited. No one would expect that one day, the area would be among the world’s richest in terms of culture. The interest toward the region increased over time, as new civilizations arrived in the middle of Anatolia. The land was fertile; to the extent it hosted many societies, the more valuable it became to future generations.
Many well-known powers of history had their origins in Anatolia, or extended their empires to include it, among them the Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Ottomans and more. Those civilizations, and many others, came to, fought for and lived in the region where Ankara is today. They arrived in the area one by one, but together, over time, they formed a single culture rooted in that geography. When we listen to the heart of Anatolia, it is Ankara we hear beating. Countless groups, nations and civilization have passed through, but Ankara experienced its most momentous event in the 20th century. Ninty-four years ago, someone came here. Someone with eyes as blue as the sky and as deep as the ocean. Someone with the warmest heart and the greatest mind. He rose up like a sun in the middle of the land. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, on November 13, 1923, gave Ankara the best title it ever had. He declared it the capital of the Turkish Republic.
Since then, Ankara has remained the capital of Turkey and is today home to millions of people. For each and every person, a different day starts in Ankara. The same roads, same streets, even the same sky – all inspire different emotions in people’s hearts. Ankara feels like the excitement of a child on the first day of school; the weariness of a businessman after a long day of work; the love of a couple; the purity of a newborn baby; the hope of the first page of a new book.
Ankara’s landscape includes neither sea, nor mountains as high as the sky – just dull grey buildings that are colored only by the people who live and work in them. But beneath each building, sidewalk, tree and road are ruins of a prosperous history. When you live in Ankara, there is no need for a sight of the sea, or any other such view. Sometimes, having less produces more. Here, people focus inside themselves, on their emotions, rather than on the sights. Ankara has enough to inspire poets, writers and artists. I think that is because we have the opportunity to actually listen to ourselves.
I usually take the same road every day, so I have the opportunity to examine the surroundings in details. It is a fact that neither a rock nor a person stays the same. Everything is in a state of continuous change, but at the same time everything stays still. Things changes in as little as a second: the birds on a tree, the lights on the buildings, the cars on the road, the clouds, the sun….People are born, and they die. Some things are forgotten, and some new scars are left. Everything changes, but one thing stays still: Ankara. All of its many parts, even they change, make up the city as a whole and give it its characteristics.
Ankara is an active city, with both young and old people – a city of students and officials. At any time of the day, and any day of the week, hundreds of people are working and studying there. From time to time, they get tired. Everyone who lives here knows that everyone wants to leave this city and run away to the seaside. That is, at first you think that you want to escape from Ankara. But as soon as you leave, you start missing it more every second. The thing that you want to run away from is not the city – it is your own responsibilities. Spending years in Ankara makes it impossible to walk away. Nowhere else feels like home, and nowhere else gives the same feeling of belonging. If you live in Ankara, you may not be able to leave it even when you have the chance – even if you haven’t realized this yet.
Loving the city, knowing its beauties, feeling lucky to be here… This is all amazing to experience, but there’s something even more special about Ankara. The city is not only a home and a place rich in culture, but also a symbol of victory: the victory of the Turkish people, building a new country from the ruins of the past.
We are now approaching November 13, the anniversary of the day that Ankara became the capital, and this should serve as a reminder. We should remember how this country was saved and how Ankara was announced to be the capital. Each and every person living in this city should be aware of the importance of this land, and honor the memory of Atatürk and his fellow soldiers. In order to do so, I have left for last the most important of Ankara’s privileges: it is home to Anıtkabir. Our leader, former president and father Atatürk remains here. Being under the same sky with him, the great leader, feels very lucky. It reminds me of the strength and the possibilities in everything. Today, may this column remind you of the opportunity and occasion for you to visit the most important site in both Ankara and Turkey: Anıtkabir. Let’s once again remember and appreciate our history, our values and our country as a whole.