Anitkabir is the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. Located in Ankara, it was designed by architects Professor Emin Onat and Assistant Professor Ahmet Orhan Arda, whose proposal beat 48 other entries from several countries in a competition held by the Turkish Government in 1941 for a “monumental tomb” for Ataturk. It is also the final resting place of Ismet Inonu, the second President of Turkey, who was interred there after he died in 1973. His tomb faces the Ataturk Mausoleum, on the opposite side of the Ceremonial Ground.
Anitkabir came about as an idea of and from the desires of the Turkish people to erect a mausoleum for Gazi Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), founder of the Turkish Republic, revolutionary, brave soldier, a great leader and international figure. In order to choose the most suitable design for this special project, an international contest was held with Prof. Emin Onat winning the contest. Anitkabir, situated on a hill called Rasattepe behind the Maltepe area of Ankara, covers 700.000 square meters of land and includes a Peace Park, which contains plants from all parts of Turkey and the world. It took nine years to complete the mausoleum. On 10th November 1953, fifteen years after Ataturk's death, his casket was taken from the Ethnographical Museum with great ceremony and was laid to final rest in its assigned place in Anitkabir.
Approaching Anitkabir from Tandogan Square, a driveway through the Park will bring you to a set of stairs. Ascending the stairs you are greeted by the Independence and Freedom Towers, two of the ten towers symbolizing the existence and high ideals of the Turkish nation and state.
To the right is the Independence Tower. Entering there is a relief of a youth, holding a sword. The eagle coat of arms forms the Seljuk era and represents Turkish strength. The youth represents the army, protector, of the Turkish nation; the eagle symbolizes the power and strength of the nation.
The inscribed words are those of Ataturk:
To live means to struggle and fight. Success in life is possible only with success in the struggle. (1927)
This nation has not lived, cannot live and will not live without independence.
Independence or death. (1919)
To the left is the Freedom Tower. Upon entering there is a relief of a horse representing freedom. The young female angel is holding a "Declaration of Freedom" in her hand.
Inscribed thereon, are the words of Ataturk:
All through the course of our history, we have been a nation that has always symbolized freedom and independence.
In front of the Freedom Tower, there is a group of a statue of three men. The figure holding a book represents the youth of Turkey, the helmeted figure represents the Turkish soldier and the third one represent the Turkish farmer.
Opposite to that group, there is another group of statues of three women all dressed alike. The two figures on the outside are holding wreaths of wheat and the one on the left is also lifting an empty cup up to heaven, asking God for mercy on Ataturk. The woman in the middle is crying as she covers her face with her hand. These three women together express sorrow over the death of Ataturk.
The Lions' Road
The Lions' Road, lined by 24 statues of lions, leads the visitor to the mausoleum area. In the Hittite Empire, once a great empire in Anatolia, lions symbolized power, strength and protection. Also, Hittite art typically depicted lions in pairs.
The Defense Of Rights Tower
At the end of the Lion's Road, there is a large open meeting area to the left of which is the Defense of Rights Tower. After World War I, many societies were formed in various parts of the country to resist any occupation forces. The Defense of Rights Tower is in honor of those societies that were later united by Ataturk. Symbolizing the resistance to foreign occupation of the country is a relief on one wall of a youth leaning on his sword while stretching out his hand. By this stance he is saying to the enemy - STOP.
The Mehmetcik Tower
Opposite the Defense of Rights Tower is the Soldier's Tower which portrays the soldier leaving his home and going to the front.
Inscribed inside are sayings of Ataturk regarding soldiers and women:
The brave Turkish soldier has understood the meaning of the battle for Anatolia and has fought for this ideal. (1921)
Nowhere in the world, in no nation, it is possible to mention the efforts of women, above the women of the Anatolian villages. (1923)
The Victory Tower
On the outside walls are the words of Ataturk on the subject of historic victories:
There is no such thing as a line of defense. Only a surface to defend. That surface consists of the entire Fatherland. Not one inch of our country can be abandoned unless drenched with the blood of its people. (1921)
In the Victory Tower is the caisson that bore the casket of Ataturk's from Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul to the waiting fleet at Sarayburnu on 19th November 1938.
After the Victory Tower, there is a long open colonnaded porch, in the center of which is the sarcophagus of Ismet Inonu, the second president of the Turkish Republic and Ataturk's army companion. The roof of this porch is decorated with frescoes depicting kilim designs.
The Peace Tower
In the tower at the end of this porch, there is a relief depicting village farmers at work and a Turkish soldier, representing the Turkish military, with his sword drawn to protect them. On the wall, there are some of Ataturk's sayings, regarding peace:
The citizens of the world should be brought up in such a way as to discourage sentiments of jealousy, avarice and hate. (1935)
Peace at home; peace in the world.
Waging war when the life of the nation is not threatened is a murderous crime. (1923)
The two automobiles that Ataturk used on ceremonial and state occasions between 1935 and 1938 are also on display here.
The 23rd April Tower
The Grand National Assembly was opened on 23 April 1920, now a national holiday. This tower, with its relief work, commemorates that historical date. The standing woman is holding in one hand a paper with the opening date of the Grand National assembly written on it. In her other hand, there is a key, symbolizing the opening of the Grand National Assembly.
A saying of Ataturk that relates to the subject is inscribed on the wall:
The Turkish Grand National Assembly is the only, sole representative of the one, true Turkish State.
The Flag Staff
Centered at the top of the steps that face the Cankaya district of Ankara there is a flagpole made from one piece of metal on which proudly waves the Turkish flag. This 33 meter-long pole was made in American especially for this purpose and is the longest single-piece flag pole in Europe. Symbolic relief works are at the base: a torch of civilization, a sword of attack, a helmet of defense, an oak branch of victory and on the olive branch of peace. Thus, the Turkish flag at Anitkabir waves over this depiction of eternal values such as national defense, victory, maintenance of peace and establishment of civilization.
The Victory Reliefs
On each side of the steps leading up to the Mausoleum is a composition done in relief depicting Ataturk and Turkish history in different stages. The Sakarya Campaign is depicted on the right side. As a whole, the relief portrays the entire Turkish nation: Men, woman, young and old, all dependent on each other to rout the invading enemy forces.
The Mausoleum is rectangular and is surrounded by columns on all four sides. On the front of the Mausoleum to the left is inscribed Ataturk's speech to the Turkish Youth. To the right is his speech presented on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Republic.
The Hall of Honor
The most important place in Anitkabir and the Mausoleum as a whole is the Hall of Honor. The fact that Ataturk's tomb is under this room gives Hall of Honor its special significance. For this reason, the other parts of Anitkabir described so far, complement the Hall of Honor which, itself, completes the whole.
Anitkabir finds its completion in this section. Entering the Hall of Honor, on the right side are Ataturk's last words to the army (1938) and on the left is the speech of Ismet Inonu in which he said of Ataturk, "The Fatherland is indebted you." The walls and floor or the Hall of Honor are covered with marble. On the ceiling, there are Turkish kilim motifs of the 15th and 16th centuries.
Ataturk's sarcophagus rests in front of spacious open windows at the end of the hall of Honor. The sarcophagus itself is one piece of marble on which there is no decoration. Ataturk's final resting place is on the ground floor directly beneath the sarcophagus. Soil from all over the country has been brought and placed under the resting place of Ataturk.
The Republic Tower
Leaving the Hall of Honor one goes to the Republic Tower and Art Gallery. Housed in the Art Gallery are oil paintings of Ataturk, stamps, and coins bearing his image and his personal library.