Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Orientation - A Trip to Ulus

Ulus or "Nation" is the oldest part of Ankara, and the most run-down, poorest, and conservative part as well. On my birthday, we visited Ulus as an orientation activity. We climbed the hill in Ulus to Ankara's old fortress and citadel. From atop the fortress, I took pictures of the sprawling city of red roofs. You can tell from the smog and yellow color of the hills just how hot it is here right now. Walking up to the citadel, there were many neat rug, fabric, copper, and jewelry shops. There were also many children running around begging for change. One little boy walked us to the fortress hoping to get one lira out of us for his guiding services. Compared to the semi-cosmopolitan nature of Tunali, the hip part of town we visited the night before, Ulus was a welcome change, for it was the first time I felt like I was in Turkey as I had imagined it to be. We also visited the oldest mosque in Ankara, built in 1290 AD, of the flat-roofed kind. Inside, the beams and ceiling were made of wood. I couldn't believe they were the original wooden beams, but I guess when it's this dry, wood doesn't rot.

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