Similar to Taksim in Istanbul, Kizilay neighborhood in Ankara is the city’s center, where the daily rush of crowds never wanes. Check out our guide to the neighborhood to get a real sense of Kizilay before visiting Ankara.
With a name derived from the neighborhood’s corporate office of Türk Kizilayi (Turkish Red Crescent, the country’s largest humanitarian organization) Kizilay is a busy city center with public transportation lines (including airport buses) that travel to every point in Ankara. But Kizilay is also a popular destination for a few key sights and a lot of shopping and entertainment.
One of the first places to visit is Güven Park, where the famous Güven (Trust) Monument stands in all its glory. The monument, completed in 1935 by Austrian architects and sculptors, is dedicated to Turkey’s security forces. A quote on the bottom of the statue by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s first president, reads “Türk, Öğün, Çalış, Güven!” (“Turk, Boast, Work, Trust!”)
Spend time or get some shopping done at the many bookstores and shops spread throughout the neighborhood. Because they’re closed to traffic, Karanfil and Yüksel streets are great places to take a stroll and get a feel for the local life, and the Hittite Sun Course Monument sculpture on Sihhiye Square is a striking symbol of the city’s ancient roots. Built by Turkish sculptor Nusret Suman, the monument is a replica of a Hittite symbol found within the tombs of the empire’s kings. Original symbols can be found at Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.
Kizilay has a variety of affordable restaurant and café chains around the neighborhood, but there are only a few places that are both authentic and local favorites. One of these places is Urfali Hayrag’nin Yeri, a no-frills restaurant with more than 20 kebab varieties—from the classic Adana and Urfa kebabs to the unique Abuhannus kebab with söğürtme (a dish from Hatay with roasted eggplant, tomato, onion, and garlic) topped with kebab meat.
Another great place to grab a bite is Göksu Lokantasi, which has been a favorite among businessmen, government officials, and celebrities for years. For all its notoriety, the restaurant’s aesthetic has remained quite simple, probably because the real standouts are its excellent Turkish dishes, which include everything from a long list of hearty kebab varieties to the day’s artisan-style meat or vegetable dishes, such as kurufasulye pilav (Turkish bean stew with rice).