Anıtkabir came about as an idea of and from the desires of the Turkish people to erect a mausoleum for Gazi Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), the founder of the Turkish Republic, a revolutionary, a brave soldier, a great leader and an 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. Anıtkabir, situated on a hill called Rasattepe behind the Maltepe area of Ankara, covers 700.000 square metres 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 November 10 th, 1953, fifteen years after Atatürk's death, his casket was taken from the Ethnographical Museum with great ceremony and was laid to final rest in its assigned place in Anıtkabir.
Approaching Anıtkabir from Tandoğan 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.
The Independence Tower
To the right is the Intependence Tower. At the entrance there is a relief of a youth, holding a sword. The eagle coat of arms is form the Seljuk era and represents Turkish strength. The youth represents the army, the protector, of the Turkish nation; the eagle symbolizes the power and strength of the nation.
The inscribed words are those of Atatürk:
"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)
The Freedom Tower
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 there on, are the words of Atatürk:
"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 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 Atatürk. 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 Atatürk.
The Lions' Road.
The Lions' Road, lined with 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 Defence Of the Rights Tower
At the end of the Lion's Road, there is a large open meeting area to the left of which is the Defence of theRights Tower. After the World War I many societies were formed in various parts of the country with the aim to resist any occupation forces. The Defence of the Rights Tower is in honor of those societies that were later united by Atatürk. A relief on a wall of a youth leaning on his sword while stretching out his hand, symbolizes the resistance to the foreign occupation of the country. By this stance he is saying to the enemy-STOP.
The Mehmetçik Tower
Opposite the Defence of the Rights Tower is the Soldier's Tower which portrays the soldier leaving his home and going to the front.
Incribed inside are sayings of Atatürk 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
The words of Atatürk on the subject of historic victories are on the outside walls:
"There is no such thing as a line of defence. 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 Atatürk's from Dolmabahçe palace in İstanbul to the waiting fleet at Sarayburnu on 19 th November, 1938.
After the Victory Tower there is a long open colonnaded porch, in the centre of which the sarcophagus of İsmet İnönü is positioned, the second president of the Turkish Republic and Atatürk'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 Atatürk's sayings, regarding peace:
"The citiens 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 wold."
"Waging of war when the life of the nation is not threatened is a murderous crime." (1923)
The two automobiles that Atatürk used on ceremonial and state occasions between 1935 and 1938 are also on display here.
The 23 rd April Tower
The Grand National Assembly was opened on 23 the April, 1920,which is a national holiday now. 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 Atatürk 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
Centreed at the top of the steps that face the Çankaya district of Ankara there is a flag pole made from one piece of metal on which the Turkish flag proudly waves. This 33 metre-long pole was made in America especially for this purpose and is the longest single-piece flag pole in Europe. Symbolic relief works at the base are: a torch of civilization, a sword of attack, a helmet of defence, an oak branch of victory and on olive branch of peace. Thus, the Turkish flag at Anıtkabir waves over this depiction of eternal values such as national defence, 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 Atatürk and the Turkish history on different stages. The Sakarya Campaign is depicted on the right side. As a whole, the relief portrays the entire Turkish nation: Men, women, 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 the Atatürk's speech to the Turkish Youth is inscribed. To the right his speech on the occasion of the 10 th anniversary of the Rupublic is presented.
The Hall of Honor
The most important place in Anıtkabir and the Mausoleum as a whole is the Hall of Honor. The fact that Atatürk's tomb is under this room gives the Hall of Honor its special significance. For this reason the other parts of Anıtkabir, described so far, complement the Hall of Honor which, itself, completes the whole.
Anıtkabir finds its completion in this section. Entering the Hall of Honor, on the right side are Atatürk's last words to the army (1938) and on the left is the speech of İsmet İnönü in which he said of Atatürk, "The Fatherland has 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 the 16th centuries.
Atatürk's sarcophagus rests in front of spacious open windows at the end of the hall of Honor. The sarcophogus itself is one piece of marble on whice there is no decoration. Atatürk'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 Atatürk.
The Republic Tower
Leaving the Hall of Honor one goes to the Republic Tower and the Art Gallery. Housed in the Art Gallery are oil paintings of Atatürk, stamps and coins bearing his image and his personal library.