Ankara may be a happening cultural center for the highbrow arts, but because most travelers pass through at a brisk pace, few get to actually take advantage of these events. Many do have time for a drink, though, and can select from a laundry list of pubs, wine bars, and chic cafes catering to the hefty consular population, or, at the other end of the scale, more humble diversions popular with the city's resident students. Most hotels have live music to offer as well; even Ahmet over at the Angora House will pull out his fasil and perform some folk songs with little prodding.
The Performing Arts
With Ankara's designation as capital of the new republic, the city had the responsibility of becoming a cultural capital as well. Rising out of the dust of an old village, Ankara has surpassed the other cities in Turkey to become the most active cultural center in the country.
Ankara is home to the prestigious State Opera and Ballet (www.dobgm.gov.tr), the Presidential Symphony Orchestra (www.cso.gov.tr), and a large number of theaters that feature the work of Turkish artists. The Presidential Symphony Orchestra performs twice weekly on Fridays and Saturdays during the October-to-May season, showcasing classical music by Turkish and foreign composers. Monthly programs for the State Opera and Ballet are listed in the Sunday edition of the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, as well as on the venue's Internet site (www.devtiyatro.gov.tr; in Turkish). Tickets can be purchased at the Opera House (tel. 0312/324-2210), in Opera Meydani, Ulus, up to a month in advance of a performance.
Festivals -- The capital also nurtures the arts by hosting several festivals throughout the year. Ankara's International Film Days, in March, and the Sevda Cenap International Arts and Music Festival, in April and May, attract the best of Turkish and international musicians. The Children's Festival is held in April, with groups of children from all over the world arriving to take part in this colorful, lively event. On August 30, Ankara celebrates Victory Day with pomp and circumstance appropriate for the capital city. Ankara also organizes a series of fairs throughout the year in Altin Park, attracting families for an afternoon of cotton candy, piping-hot gözleme fresh off the cart, and the occasional kiddie ride.
The Club, Cafe & Bar Scene
Much of Ankara's nightlife is geared toward the diplomatic community, with cafes, jazz clubs, and the odd English pub clustered at the south of town. A more youthful crowd, predominantly from the nearby university, congregates in the outdoor beer gardens around Sakarya Caddesi in Kizilay. A few restaurants at the citadel offer nightly music, including establishments immediately to the left inside the entrance and next to the Angora Hotel that change management regularly. The Divan Çengelhan Brasserie features live music on weekends. In the neighborhood of Kavaklidere, just off Tunali Hilmi on Abjantin Caddesi, is a lineup of smart-looking, candlelit bistros; there's even a Starbucks for those of you feeling homesick. Below are a few additional and popular old reliables.
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