Known in ancient times as Ancyra and later as Angora, the city was an important commercial center at least as early as Hittite times (18th cent. BC). in the 1st cent. AD it became the capital of a Roman province. It flourished under Augustus; in the ruins of a marble temple dating from his reign (31 BC–AD 14) was found the Monumentum Ancyranum, a set of inscribed tablets valuable as a record of Augustan history. The city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the mid-14th cent., and in 1402 Timur defeated and captured Sultan Beyazid I there.
In the late 19th cent. Ankara declined and by the early 20th cent. was a small town known only for the production of mohair. In 1920, Kemal Atatürk made the city the seat of his Turkish nationalist government with a commitment to modernization. In 1923 it replaced İstanbul as the capital of all Turkey, partly to break with tradition and partly to take advantage of its central location. The city grew rapidly from the 1920s; in the 1960s its population almost doubled.
There are few historic remains. Ankara's leading modern monument is the Atatürk mausoleum, completed in 1953. The huge Kocatepe Mosque opened in 1987. The city has numerous museums, including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, and is the seat of the Ankara, Hacettepe, and Middle East Technical universities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Turkey Political Geography