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Ankara is not only the capital of Turkey, it is also the centre of state run artistic talent. The National Opera, National Ballet, National Theatre and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra are all based here. There is just as much talent outdoors on the streets and 60 per cent of the city’s population is under the age of 30. The energy and drive that comes with youth means that Ankara is now experiencing a mini-cultural revolution. Its structure is like a modern European city with parks and wide boulevards.
To visit ancient Ankara, head to Ulus, where the narrow and winding streets are filled with stalls and shops selling antiques and Kilims. Kızılay is the place for outdoor beer houses, fried mussels and inexpensive shopping. To experience Ankara today, head to the fashionable city centre Tunalı and then upwards towards Çankaya for a mix of modern food and clothing.
Turkish cuisine is one of the top three cuisines of the world thanks to the variety of its recipes, natural ingredients, flavours and its influence throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It may be said that Turkish cuisine, in a sense, is a bridge between far-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. The emphasis is always on the natural taste and flavour of the ingredients. Main courses are usually served with a side dish of rice. Meat and fish restaurants are plentiful in Ankara and due to its strategic location, Ankara is blessed with a wide variety of daily fish flown in from all parts of the country. Turkish dinners are rather long, the food is plenty and enjoyed in the company of friends with passionate conversations carrying on into the night. Turks are also fond of casseroles and stews so you can find many restaurants offering these. After dinner, the fresh fruit or dessert served is usually with compliments of the restaurant, unless they have a dessert menu. Desserts here are extra sweet like the baklava, kadayıf and muhallebi, only to name a few. Türk kahvesi, Turkish coffee, is served in small cups and you can choose how much sugar you like in it. Turkish coffee is a big part of the culture and considering it was the Turks who introduced coffee to Europe, they are right to be fond of their Turkish coffee.
Cafés have been an indispensable part of the Turkish culture for centuries. The café, Kahve in Turkish, is a traditional place where people play cards, drink tea or coffee, play backgammon and discuss politics and soccer. The European style cafés offer a variety of food and drinks. Ankara has many of the old as well as the new type of cafés.
Since being the capital city of Turkey, and thanks to its huge student population, there are many bars and clubs in this city. If you like the rock scene then Sakarya in Kızılay is the place for you. As you go up toward Çankaya, the style of bars and clubs change into a trendier club scene. Sakarya/Kızılay and Tunalı Hilmi/Kavaklıdere are nice areas if you like to people-watch.
Ankara is the city with most shopping malls in Turkey and the majority holds the most famous international brands. Some new and trendy shopping malls are located around the city like the Panora, Gordion, Armada, Cepa, Kentpark, Ankamall, Arcadium, Optimum and Antares.
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