Anitkabir – Mausoleum of Ataturk
What does Anitkabir mean?
Anitkabir means Memorial Tomb in English. After Ataturk passed away in Nov 10, 1938,Turkish Government started to consider where to bury him as this was a topic never discussed before. As a result, he was buried to the Ethnographical Museum of Ankara temporarily. After the construction of the Mausoleum, he was reburied there with another official ceremony fifteen years later.
Where is Anitkabir?
Anitkabir is located in the capital of Republic of Turkey Ankara. On January 1939, Turkish Parliament decided to build the memorial on Rasattepe. It is relatively an ascended hill which was seen from almost everywhere in Ankara. In 1941, Turkish Government announced an international competition for Anitkabir. 25 projects from Turkey, 11 from Germany, 9 from Italy and 1 project from Austria, Czechoslovakia, France and Sweden applied to the competition. 3 projects were delivered to the Parliament on 1942 and architects Onat and Arda’s project was awarded. Construction started in the area on 1944 and first rescue excavations were made on the area as it was a neolithic settlement. On November 1953, construction was finished by the Turkish Government.
Plan of Anitkabir
The Mausoleum of Ataturk consists of 8 sections. These are Road of Lions, Ceremonial Plaza, Hall of Honor, Peace Park, ten towers and groups of statues. The Road of Lions is a 262 meter long pedestrian entrance to Anitkabir. There are 12 lions located on both sides reflecting the ancient Hittite style. Lions stand for power and peace. The paving stones on the road has five centimeters of gaps in between to make visitors walk slowly to the Ceremonial Plaza respecting the challenge of Ataturk while establishing a new state for the Turkish People. 24 lions represent the original Turkic tribes of Oghuz Turks. The Road of Lions end by the Ceremonial Plaza which is a ten thousand square meter area. It can accommodate around fifteen thousand people and decorated with three hundred seventy three Turkish carpet and rug patterns. The Hall of Honor stands on the north of the Ceremonial Plaza. It is forty two meters to fifty eight meters in size and seventeen meters high. There is a forty tons of monolith representing the sarcophagus of Ataturk which is located underneath. Chamber of the tomb is built in an octagonal plan which is also known as the Turkish star and frequently seen in the Seljukian and Ottoman architecture. The Peace Park surrounds the Mausoleum and named after the famous phrase of Ataturk; peace at home, peace in the world. More than a hundred of varieties of plants and trees are decorating the park. Twenty five countries donated plants and trees to the Peace Park which houses more than fifty thousand decorative plants.
There are ten towers placed symmetrical in Anitkabir. Tower of Independence has a relief of a young man with a sword and an eagle behind him. Eagle stands for power and independence in Seljukian Mythology while the sword stand for the Turkish Nations struggle for independence. There is a group of female statues in front of the tower dedicated to the women of Anatolia to respect their efforts during the establishment of our country. The Freedom Tower has an angel inside with a paper which stand for freedom and declaration of the freedom of Turkish Nation. The statue group in front of the Freedom Tower has three male statues. The statues stand for the Turkish peasant, soldier and intellectual. The Mehmetcik Tower is at the right end of the Road of Lions. Mehmetcik is the term used for the Turkish soldiers and a proud mother can be seen on the relief of the tower sending his son to the battlefield. The Victory Tower across has the three important victories of the Turkish Nation after the end of the First World War. The gun carriage which was used to bring Ataturk from Dolmabahce Palace to Sarayburnu Port can be seen inside the tower. The Peace Tower has the words of Ataturk above; Peace at home, Peace in the World. April 23 Tower is named after April 23, 1920, the opening day of the Turkish Parliament in Ankara. The Cadillac used by Ataturk can be seen inside the tower. Tower of Reforms has two important reliefs of torches. Torch with the fading light represents the falling Ottomans after the First World War while the torch with a flashing light is representing the new reforms made by Ataturk and the first Assembly of the Turkish People to create a contemporary civilization. The National Pact Tower has four hands holding a sword tight which is standing for the unity of the Turkish Nation during the Independence War. The tower is also the entrance to the Museum of Ataturk where his personal belongings and gifts during his presidency are exhibited. During a visit to the Museum of Independence War, one can see the octagonal structure where Ataturk rests today. There is a TV screen in front of the chamber of the tomb to see the inside. He is buried in Islamic tradition with a shroud into the earth. The earth he is buried are brought from different places. These are including the official provinces of Republic of Turkey in 1953, Cyprus island, the garden of the house he was born in Thessaloniki, Greece and the tomb of Shah Suleiman who was the grandfather of Osman I who is considered the founder of the Ottoman Empire.
Today, The Mausoleum of Ataturk is visited by millions of people every year and reminds the citizens of our country how many lives were lost during the establishment of Republic of Turkey.
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