x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Ask the Expert: history and a hammam in Ankara

There's plenty to do in the Turkish capital, from exploring ancient monuments to trying a traditional Turkish bath in a luxury hotel.

My wife and I will be in Ankara in May for three days and two nights. We plan to explore the city on our own. What are the important historic attractions? Can you suggest a luxury hotel that has a spa with a hammam?

The Turkish capital dates back to the Bronze Age - an extremely old city with so much heritage to admire and explore that seeing everything over a few short days might seem like a daunting task. But the good thing is getting around is reasonably easy, thanks to the city's inexpensive public transport system. The bus network is wide and extensive (a one-way ticket costs two Turkish lira [Dh4], bought on the bus). Ankara Metro has two far-reaching train lines (purchase a magnetic travel card at any of the train stations). The yellow "taksis", or cabs, are supposed to run on a meter but some drivers try to negotiate the fare; make sure the meter is switched on before you get into the cab (rides start at 2.20 lira [about Dh5]).

At the top of the city are the ruins of the Hisar, or citadel, boasting thousands of years of history and Ankara's best-known landmark. It was built during the time of the Hittites to serve as a garrison, and has two separate sections, the inner castle and the outer castle, which has seven entrances. The inside of the castle, featuring traditional Turkish architecture, is in pretty good shape. Interspersed between these walls are a scattering of ancient houses, which together used to form Esi Ankara, one of the Turkish capital's oldest neighbourhoods.

An ancient, painstakingly restored bedesten, or bazaar, is the site of the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations (00 90 312 324 3160; open daily except Monday), which lies within walking distance of the entrance to the citadel. The museum has a fine assortment of works dating to the Palaeolithic and Neolithic ages, as well as Roman and Lydian treasures.

The mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (00 90 312 231 7975; open daily except on Monday) sits atop a hill in Ankara's An¿ttepe quarter. Completed in 1953, the building houses a museum that displays his letters, writings and other personal items (there's also an impressive wax statue of the Turkish leader).

Don't miss Ahi Elvan Mosque, in the Ulus quarter, which was built in the 15th century and is known for its beautiful pulpit, which is made of intricately carved walnut wood. Also of interest are the Etnografya Museum (00 90 312 311 9556; opposite the Opera House, Talat Pasa Boulevard), which has an extensive collection of artefacts from the Seljuk and Ottoman mosques. The Roman Bath ruins on Çank¿r¿ Avenue (00 90 312 3107 7280), built in the 3rd century AD, are an important archaeological site.

The JW Marriott Ankara in Sugotozu district (www.marriott.com; 00 90 312 248 8888) has a spa with a hammam offering Turkish-style treatments. The hotel currently has a two-night weekend package from 862 lira (Dh1,754) per night, based on two sharing, including breakfast and taxes.

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