Old Ankara

Ștefan Cândea
While I was out, Petrut wandered around the old part of Ankara. During lunch, a pitchman told him many interesting stories. In Turkish. He found some pigeon lovers who offered him a cup of tea, silently agreed to be photographed and then continued to watch the pigeons through their binoculars. He watched the unstrained relationship between the clothes salesmen and the tailor’s dummies standing in the threshold of their store. A salesman caresses the heads of his identical children, dressed as princes. Another salesman holds his tailor’s dummy dressed in a pink, downy bathrobe. After resting for a while, one by one the salesmen take a few steps towards the middle of the road and begin to praise their merchandise in a loud voice. Then they return in front of their shop windows just as determined, pour themselves a cup of tea and return to their place in the middle of their family, among the dummies.

Ankara is comprised of the new, central part of the city (Kizalay) and several hills surrounding it. Two kilometers north of Kizalay we got to Ulus, the old center of the city, where the souq begins.

The old Ankara seems to enjoy less the presence of tourists than the new Ankara. During our prolonged walk, we counted exactly three tourists. The old Ankara is a labyrinth of narrow streets, compact houses and improvised parts of the souq, disposed in a bold dip. The architecture is of medieval inspiration, yet the goods displayed on the stands catch the eye with their lights, tinsels and colorful plastic. On the other side you can find bulk coal, all kinds of left-overs and iron-made things, the cheapest haircut and piles of all sorts and colours of meat. It seems to be the shopping area ot the townspeople and resembles the old center of Bucharest of the ‘90s. In the gangway between the carpets, the price of the hotel room is of around 10 Euros per night (you may also rent it by hour).

The more „touristic” stalls stand towards the edge of the hill, near a museum-fortified citadel and the view over the city (Ankara Kalesi – around 1000m high).

Translated by: Roxana Bocicai