The Best of Cappadocia-to-Istanbul Road Trip: Ankara and Lake Tuz

Lake Tuz – a salt flat in Turkey

We were on our way to Ankara, en route to Istanbul from Cappadocia, and surprisingly enough, we went past an amazing salt flat in Turkey where the sky and ground merge into one to create wonderful images.

IMG_9547Talking about the “Mirror of the sky”, a lot of travelers immediately thinks about Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat located over 3,600 meters above sea level. While in fact, this is not the only mirror of the sky on this planet. Lake Tuz, located in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey, is the second largest lake in Turkey and it’s about 1/6 the size of the Salar de Uyuni.

The lake is very shallow, though, with 0.5 to 1.5 feet in depth, the water dries up in summer with only a thin layer of water or even no water left in the Lake, people could walk on the lake and the reflection creates dreamy and magnificent images.

More than 60% of the salt in Turkey was mined from this lake, and crystallized salt can be seen. As we were jumping and wandering in the lake my pants got wet and salt stuck in my pants when it was dry as well.

Bird lovers can come to Lake Tuz for flamingo viewing. It is the only natural nesting ground for flamingos in Turkey and they flocked to the lake to feed and nest.

Lake Tuz is a protected area with a significant impact on the flora and fauna of the region. With intensified and more frequent droughts in recent years, water sources of the lake become scarcer, and the future of the lake is yet to be known.

Formation of Salt Flats

Salt flats are dried-up desert lakes. They form in closed hollows where rainfall can’t drain away.

In a wet climate, a lake would form but, in a desert, the water is heated and evaporates into vapour faster than it is replenished by rain. The salt and minerals dissolved in the water are left behind as a solid layer.

Some salt flats are massive. Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA, were formed by the evaporation of an ancient lake as large as present-day Lake Michigan. They are flat enough to be used as a raceway for setting land-speed records.

Other notable salt flats include:

  • Etosha Pan, Namibia
  • Cono De Arita, Argentina
  • Salar de Arizaro, Argentina
  • Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley, California, USA
  • Chott el Djerid, Tunisia
  • Makgadikgadi Pan, Botswana
  • Namak Lake, Iran

Ankara – the capital of Turkey

When we are talking about Turkey, the capital Ankara rarely comes first thing to your mind. Oh yes, do you know Ankara is the capital of Turkey? Historically known as Ancyra and Angora, the city is located in the central part of Anatolia, with a population of over 5 million, making it the second-largest city after Istanbul. While it is officially established as “the new capital” of the Republic in 1923, after the Turkish War of Independence, it has been the capital of the ancient Celtic state of Galatia and later of the Roman province of Galatia between 260 to the 7th century.

If you are interested in the history of Anatolian culture, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations showcases artifacts dated back to the Palaeolithic Age from 8000 BC to the Hittite Period (1750-1200 BC), Phrygian Period (1200-700 BC), Late Hittite Period (1200-700 BC), Urartian Period (1200-600 BC), Lydian Period (1200-546 BC) to the Classical Period and Ankara through the ages.

Highlights of Ankara

The capital has a surprising number of heritage sites and monuments, like:

Ankara Citadel: The castle and citadel were built by the Galatians with a long history from the Roman Period. The citadel is featured in various Turkish banknotes from 1927 to 1952 and 1983 to 1989.

Roman Theater: The remain, the state, and the backstage of the Roman theater can be seen outside the castle. The statues found here are on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Temple of Augustus and Rome: the Augusteum now known as the Temple of Augustus and Rome, was built in 25 BC, followed by the conquest of Central Anatolia by the Roman Empire.

Roman Baths: The site features all the typical features of a classical Roman bath and it was built during the reign of the Roman Emporer Caracalla in the early 3rd century to honor Asclepios.

Column of Julian: Or, the Column of Julianus is located in the Ulus district and it was erected in honor of the Roman Emporer Julian the Apostate’s visit to Ancyra in 362.

The Victory Monument was crafted by Austrian sculptor Heinrich Krippel in 1925 and it’s located at the Ulus Square. The equestrian statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk wears a REpublic era modern military uniform, with the rank Field Marshal. 

Moving on to its Mulism era, the city has lots of mosques that are impressive in size and scale, like the Kocatepe Mosque is the largest in the city, together with Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque, Yeni Mosque, Haci Bayram Mosque, Ahi Elvan Mosque, and Alaeddin Mosque.

There are a few things that you should visit while you are in the city. Like the Victory Monument, the Statue of Ataturk, Monument of Secure, Confident Future, Hatti Monument, and more.

The Victory Monument was crafted by Austrian sculptor Heinrich Krippel in 1925 and it’s located at the Ulus Square. The equestrian statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk wears a REpublic era modern military uniform, with the rank Field Marshal.

For a more modern “option” in the city, check out the Atakule, a communications and observation tower on a hill, standing 125 meters tall, and completed in the year 1989. The tower offers an open terrace and a revolving restaurant at the top – but not only that, it has shops, cafes, and more in the cupola.


Anıtkabir – a national monument

IMG_9545After a quick change when arriving in Ankara, we headed to the Anıtkabir – the most iconic landmark in the capital city. Anıtkabir, a.k.a. the memorial tomb is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. It is also the final resting place of the second President of Turkey, İsmet İnönü. The main monument of the site is one symmetrical, cut-stone-clad building manifested by its detailing and workmanship in construction; it is a fine example of Turkish architecture, and the building acts as a centerpiece of Anıtkabir as it faces a ceremonial plaza of over 10,000 square meters. There are signs and memorials that showcase the history of Turkey that we know today. Of course, there is an Anıtkabir Atatürk Museum as it exhibits important artifacts with great historic value, including stories of Turkey’s most significant figure, and many of his personal belongings

While in there, admire the artwork through the Road of Lions, pay respect to Atatürk’s tomb in the Hall of Honor, and take a walk in the Peace Park; For those with more time, explore the many towers around the site, and the back of the mausoleum offers a panoramic view of the city.

The mausoleum has a high level of security and stood guards could be seen almost everywhere on the site. Besides, it’s located on a hill and, therefore, the corridor of the courtyard offers a panoramic view of Ankara. It was the only tourist spot we visited in Ankara and we took some time to wander in the city before it got dark. To me, the city has some sort of nostalgic vibe as if I was in the 60/the 70s, and the locals were definitely intrigued and gave us funny looks when they saw a bunch of foreigners strolling in the Ankara streets.

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  1. Your posts never ceases to amaze me. My heart is broken right now; I had planned a vacation to Cappadocia last year (the Hot Air Balloon ride is on my bucket list), but the lockdown happened, and ALLLLLL of my plans were canceled. You gave me more ideas on what to do on my next trip to Turkey. 😍😍😍

    1. Thank you, and how amazing to have a ride of the hot air balloon in cappadocia! you are welcome to check out the other post about what to see and do there!

    1. You are welcome! It’s not a usual destination but worth exporing! Where are you planning to visit in Turkey.

  2. This looks like such an amazing experience. I would love to visit here for a family trip in the future.

  3. I love your photos, the places looks great! I would love to go to these places once the pandemic is over. I will add this to my bucket list.

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