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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

A Visit to Anıtkabir

by Fred Moore – October 2009
Ataturk’s Mausoleum 
This is an experience, not to be missed; this complex was created for the sole purpose of commemorating the life and times of a most extraordinary man --- Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Here’s a synopsis of his career, brief and shallow though it might be, the man was bigger than life and dedicated to a people who loved him. Traveling through Turkey today we see his photograph prominently displayed everywhere (businesses and family residences alike). His statues adorn village squares and school yards across this great nation.

Ataturk was born ‘Mustafa’  in Salonika, Greece in 1881. I perceive his childhood as short; his father died when he was seven, but still he had a profound influence on his life’s role. When just a toddler, his father hung his sword over Mustafa’s cradle, dedicating the boy to military service. Against his mother’s wishes, as a young teenager Mustafa enrolled in a military secondary school. While attending the secondary school, a math professor nicknamed him ‘Kemal’ that translates to, ‘the perfect one’. From then on he was known as Mustafa Kemal.

He progressed through military school in Monastir and on to War College in Istanbul. After completion of his full course of instruction, he graduated a second lieutenant in 1902. He moved on to General Staff College and graduated a captain in 1905. He served in Syria, back in Salonika, in Libya, Sofia and other overseas positions as he progressed through the ranks up to Lt Col. His true renown came from the WWI battle at Gallipoli, where he defeated the allies in a decisive struggle for access to the Dardanelles and to Istanbul. He came away with a promotion to Colonel. A year later he was assigned to the Russian front and while there was promoted to General.

Turkey was not yet a country by name; it was still the Ottoman Empire and was in the waning years of its reign. The Ottomans supported the Germans in WWI until it was too late and this further contributed to the downfall of the empire. The Brits, the French and the Italians marched troops into Istanbul to begin dismantling the Ottoman Empire, which they determined should be divided up as spoils of war.

On May 19, 1919 Mustafa Kemal (not yet known as Ataturk) landed in Samsum to prevent the nation from slipping through the fingers of its people and he declared his aim to expel the allies from Turkish soil. It was the intent of the allies to distribute Ottoman Lands between the French, the Italians, the Brits, the Greeks and the Armenians. There was a small portion set aside to become a token Turkish homeland as well, but it was only one quarter or even one fifth of what has now become Turkey.

The War of Independence pushed out from central Turkey in all directions; it pushed the French from the south and southeast, the Italians from the south, the Armenians from the east and northeast, the Brits from the northwest and finally the Greeks from the south and southwest. Mustafa Kemal had established a provincial government, ‘a parliament’, called the Grand National Assembly; they met in Ankara on April 23, 1920 becoming ‘the government’  of the new land and directed the war effort from there.

All of the allied forces were driven out early on except Greece and they fought hard and long to remain but they too were finally driven into the sea at Izmir. That ended the allied occupation and the War for Independence; the new republic was proclaimed Turkey, a new nation on October 29, 1923. On that same day, Mustafa Kemal was elected by the assembly to be President of the new republic.

Immediately, Mustafa Kemal began forcing reforms upon the people; his aim was to bring westernization to the new republic. Reforms came fast and furious --- the fez and the veil were outlawed, western attire was encouraged, the religious caliphate was abolished. The calendar, weights & measures, the alphabet were all modernized mirroring western systems. In 1926 the Swiss civil code, the Italian penal code and the German commercial code were adopted without alteration. The country was declared secular; all religious schools were shuttered. In November 1928, the Arabic script was replaced wholesale by the Latin alphabet with 28 letters. Mustafa Kemal went into the countryside, and with chalk and a blackboard demonstrated and taught the new alphabet to the Turkish people.

In 1934 the Grand National Assembly gave Mustafa Kemal his new name, Ataturk (“Father of the Turks”). At the same time they decreed the name Ataturk would NEVER to be taken by anyone else in the country. Also, that same year all citizens of the new republic were required to take last names --- many simply took the occupation of their father as a last name. Always a heavy drinker, Ataturk began to decline in health; his illness, cirrhosis of the liver. Unfortunately for the country it was diagnosed far too late. He lived in great pain the last few months of his life but sustained great character and dignity through it all, On Nov. 10, 1938, he lost his fight for life and died at 9:05 a.m. in Dolmabahce Palas on the Bosporus in Istanbul.

With that extremely brief overview of an extraordinary life let’s walk to the main entrance to the mausoleum. We’re going to enter from the backside of the complex. We ascend a flight of steps and we’re standing at the foot of the flag pole. This flagpole was made in the United States and was a donation from an American of Turkish origin (the gentleman was a flag pole manufacture). Four meters of this majestic pole are below the surface; and it rises some 30 meters into the sky.

As we look out across Ceremonial Square we look toward lion road. Opposite our entry point is a long promenade lined incrementally by reposed lion statuary. To our left is the 23 April Tower housing Ataturk’s boat and a private car --- a Cadillac. We begin our tour here; after a moment of viewing we leave and walk down the exterior corridor to the Peace Tower where we find his ceremonial automobiles --- these two are Lincolns. All three of these cars are early 1930’s as I remember (1932 or 1934) and huge; all are black, one is a convertible, the other two town cars of that age. Continuing down the covered corridor opposite Ataturk’s Tomb we pass the tomb of Ismet Inonu (the second President of Turkey) and then come to the Victory Tower. This one houses the caisson that ferried Ataturk’s body from train station to its resting-place. Once beyond this tower and further up the corridor, we come to the Turkish Soldier Tower, which houses a theater where we get the overview of the complex in film.

We’re back on the ceremonial square now and we will go directly up the 42 steps to the Mausoleum and the Hall of Honor. This is the center piece of this magnificent memorial complex. The hall is surrounded by 44 columns nearly 15 meters high, 8 on each end and 14 along each side. At the entry on either side there are words of inspiration from Ataturk and Inonu. The message from Inonu proclaims the sorrow of the nation toward the death of its founder. At the center rear of the hall is the symbolic sarcophagus of Ataturk --- this is a massive piece of marble weighting 40 tons! This is the ceremonial hall of international respect; world leaders will lay a wreath at the foot of this sarcophagus upon their visits to this site. Standing in this hallowed hall knowing the contributions of this extraordinary man to this country is truly humbling for me. Ataturk’s actual internment is well below our feet in a ceremonial room covered by surveillance cameras. Surrounding his burial tomb are brass vases containing the soil of every province of the nation plus northern Cyprus and Azerbaijan. I find this last entry interesting; I can’t find anything to address why Azerbaijan gets this special recognition.

After a few minutes we leave and descend the steps; we make our way to the museum entrance below and on our left. We enter another of the towers and this is the ceremonial book signing hall; all international leaders pause here to leave a word or two of reaction in the visitor ledger (a tribute to Ataturk). We don’t get to see the ledger; it’s not left for public viewing. There are two major bulletin boards with photos of those dignitaries last through the hall; in this current collection we see Barak Obama. There is no entry fee here and cameras are allowed without a flash. We continue our tour now by entering the first hall of the museum; this long and dimly lit space holds the personal mementoes of Ataturk. These are primarily gifts from foreign and domestic admirers. Plan to be awed; the sheer volume of gifts is striking and the silver, gold, ivory and jewel-encrusted tokens will overwhelm you. I especially like the cane collection --- one of them is a rifle.

Beyond this room we’re introduced to a man’s life at home; his rowing machine, several sets of his formal and casual clothing are in display cases and central to the room is a huge glass case holding a life size wax figure of Ataturk standing in his formal attire. He stands and looks as though he could step out at any moment and greet the masses. Do notice his piercing blue eyes; in this diorama they are especially striking. As we continue, we come to the dioramas of the great independence war; the sights and sounds within these halls bring my readings of the war years vividly to life. The first section is the Canakkale War (1915). I can’t begin to fathom the carnage that was hosted upon these people as they struggled for the nation’s very birth. Next on the tour is the Sakarya Pitch Battle (1921). Then were confronted by the Great Attack (August 26, 1922). Between sets of war dioramas is an art gallery containing massive (maybe 8 X 10 feet in some cases) painting of war scenes, both of tireless effort and victorious entries into captured villages and cities. Interspersed among these war scenes are large paintings of leading figures in the war years, parliamentarians, generals, civilians of special note and, of course, Ataturk.


Leaving this area and moving down the corridor we begin a journey through Ataturk’s reforms, from the establishment of the republic through the industrialization of the country. Each reform has its own kiosk and background information with photographs and period artifacts. At one point we stop before the entry to the grave room; just behind this door is the actual resting place of a man larger than life. We watch the monitor as it scans the interior of the room and there we see the brass vases and the crypt of Ataturk.

Our next glass case display is even more powerful than those that have already come; here’s another life size wax figure of Ataturk sitting at his desk deep in thought about his work and its impact on his people. I imagine this thought pattern only because I feel I know the man behind this façade; Ataturk was a man deeply dedicated to making Turkey a nation of strong and proud people. At the end now just before we reach the gift shop we’re immersed in books; Ataturk’s personal library, hundreds of volumes in French, German and Arabic Script. Ataturk was well read and driven to higher learning every day.

From entry into the museum until we emerge in the gift shop we’ve spent over an hour immersed in one of the most moving environments I can describe; I’ve read nearly every book published in English about this great man and stand in awe of his remarkable accomplishments. As I consume this entire exhibit, I hearken back to the founding of the country and Ataturk’s striking foreign policy, “Peace at home, peace in the world” -- his paramount principle.




Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world

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Fred's Trip Logs
Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya

Focus On
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