When the republic was founded in 1923, Ankara was a small city with a population of only 20 thousand. In the construction of the city, European architects have drawn up the first plans of the city; and formed the main axes and centers that still exist today. In these urban plans, Atatürk Boulevard was set as the only and most important transportation channel of Ankara, while Ulus and Kızılay were city centers, and Çankaya was considered as Atatürk’s residency. As time goes by, since the population of Ankara increased much higher than it was projected, new regions and subcenters were constructed.

Kizilay Square and Ulus Square in 1930
Kızılay Square and Ulus Square in 1930s

However, when asked to a residence, they would state two out of the famous three as the city center: Kızılay, Ulus and Tunalı. The reason for this is that although the city has expanded and new centers have been formed, these three centers are still very important for different reasons and newly acquired meanings.

Ulus, the first center of Ankara, especially Anafartalar Street, still maintains its importance. With its heavy traffic, Ulus is used by the locals as a crossroad as well as a shopping district. Atatürk Statue in the square became a focal point and a place where people spent their time. Starting from Ulus Square, you can walk through historical buildings along the way and reach the Altındağ Municipality Park.

Anafartalar Street in Ulus
From Dericizade Faruk Küçük’s Archive, Anafartalar Street

Just like Ulus, Kızılay is also a transit and meeting point for the residents of Ankara. Ercoşkun and Özüduru listed the reasons why it was not preferred as a center in the following:

“The square is designed only for vehicles, and the pedestrian paths are scarce. Even after the reopening of Emek Büro Ishani (Labour Bureau) which is one of the first skyscrapers of Ankara it was not preferred a center as assumed”. Güvenpark, which has taken place in the memories of everyone, has become a meeting point for people like Kizilay. Kızılay Shopping Center, banks around the district, fishmongers in Sakarya Street, simit sellers, various passages and cafes increased the pedestrian traffic, while Metro-Ankaray has become a transit area for people due to its role as crossroads.

In contrast to Kızılay and Ulus, Tunalı Hilmi Street in Çankaya is a walking route for the locals. Although there is an open area for traffic; it is more of a nice walking route with its cafes and shops, as well as street musicians. As a result, people spend longer and slower time here.

Tunali Hilmi Street
 Tunali Hilmi Street

Together with the spread of the city towards its borders which created the areas which we label as suburbia, the creation of a lifestyle that is dependent to the cars as well as an increase of malls caused the urban centers to lose their importance in terms of trade and socialization. However; the diversity in the types of trade, their position as crossroads, and their way of communicating with the locals will always keep them alive.


Sources for the article

Koyuncu, P. (2013) Geçmişin Modern Mimarisi: Ankara-2

Erçoşkun, Ö. Y.; Özüduru, B. (2013) Ankara’daki Alışveriş Caddelerinde Ticari Mekanlar ve Sosyal Sürdürülebilirlik Araştırması.MEGARON 2013;8(1):29-44

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Translated by Jeyan Idil Aslan.

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