This enormous structure pays homage to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, “Father of the Turks,” founder and first president of the Turkish Republic in 1922. If you spend any amount of time in Turkey, no matter where in the country you are, you know just how revered he is. His portrait graces everything from currency, to schools, to banks, and every official building in between. A truly remarkable man, from his heroics and unmatched conviction in the early days of the Battle of Gallipoli, where as a young officer he first made a name for himself by telling his men “I am not asking you to attack, I am ordering you to die…” to the days of his presidency, Ataturk is responsible for creating Turkey as it is today, a Westward-looking, modern secular democracy making great strides to take its place in the contemporary civilized world.
For a study of Ataturk’s life and accomplishments, speeches, and other interesting artefacts, it is worthwhile and recommended to visit the extensive exhibit across the courtyard. It is no understatement to say that you can’t truly understand Turkey without understanding the works and words of Ataturk. Massive and rectangular, fronted by a wide stepped approach and flanked by the words of one of his many famous speeches, the mausoleum is surrounded by beautiful gardens and guarded by Turkish soldiers. Ataturk’s mausoleum is a shrine for many, and visitors include both those who come here to see and to learn, and those who come simply to pay their respects to a most incredible man.