About Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations was the first museum to be established in Ankara in 1921, and over 90 years later it still stands at the heart of the city as a top tourist attraction. Located on the south side of Ankara Castle, artefacts are housed in the historical buildings of the old Ottoman Mahmut Paşa bazaar storage building and the Kurşunlu Han, a fifteenth-century inn for travelling caravans.

The bazaar has stood on this spot since it was built by Mahmut Paşa, one of the ministers of Mehmed II the Conqueror, the Sultan best known for conquering Constantinople and ending the Byzantine Empire. Unfortunately there are no inscriptions to date this construction exactly, but it is known to have been between 1464 and 1471. The impressive structure is made up of 10 domes covering a rectangular building which held over 100 shops; it is thought that much sought after Angora wool garments were traded here. Next to it, the Kurşunlu Han is believed to have been built by Mahmut Paşa in the same period and served as an inn for travellers. Its design, with a central courtyard and arcade surrounded by two-storey rooms, was typical of Ottoman period hans, which offered rest for trader and animal alike.

This historical setting is just one small aspect of the story that visitors to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations can explore. The museum is best known for its archaeological treasures exhibited in the old bazaar building – particularly its extensive collection of Hittie artefacts. However, it also spans a number of other periods which chart history through the Paleolithic era, the Neolithic, Early Bronze, Assyrian trading colonies, Phrygian, Urartian, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuq and Ottoman periods. And if this extensive collection isn’t enough to wear you out, visitors can also delve into the museum’s unique assortment of coins, with examples ranging from the first minted money to modern times.

With so much to see, it’s no wonder that the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations was elected as the first European Museum of the Year in 1997, and continues to be one of the most important museums in the world.

Contributed by Siobhan Coskeran

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