Museum of Anatolian Civilisation in Ankara, Turkey

The Museum of Anatolian Civilisation in Ankara is considered the most important museum in Turkey. It contains archaeological treasures of the Hittites, Phrygians and Urartians dating back to the Palaeolithic Age.

The Museum of Anatolian Civilisation in the Turkish capital Ankara is considered the best and most important museum in Turkey and one of the richest museums in the world. It also enjoys high international recognition and was awarded the title "European Museum of the Year 1997″. As one of the top 10 sights in Turkey, it should definitely be included on your holiday to Turkey!


The Museum of Anatolian Civilisations is located in the Atpazari quarter below the Citadel and is housed in two former buildings: the "Mahmut Paşa Bedesteni" bazaar, which contains the exhibition rooms, and the "Kurşunlu Han" caravanserai, which houses the research and administrative rooms.

Originally, the Museum of Anatolian Civilisation was planned as a pure Hittite museum; it is still partly referred to as such. In 1943, the first part was opened to visitors; it was not fully opened until 1968.

As the name suggests, the focus of the exhibitions is on the Anatolian cultures, such as the Hittites, Urartians, and the Phrygians. Their way of life and achievements are depicted from the first 2 million-year-old stone tools of the hunter-gatherers of that time from the Palaeolithic Age to Hellenistic and Roman sculptures on the ground floor of the museum.

Each culture already had impressive craftsmanship, which is impressively demonstrated by a masterful bronze lion of the Urartians, an amazingly crafted wooden folding table of the Phrygians and a remarkable sphinx relief of the Hittites. Many of the exhibits are several thousand years old.

Highlights at the Museum of Anatolian Civilisation

Relief of a hunting scene in the Museum of Anatolian Civilisation, Ankara, Turkey - © zebra0209 / Shutterstock
© zebra0209 / Shutterstock

The highlight of the collection is certainly the Hittite cuneiform writings from Boğazkale, which are part of the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage. The Paleolithic finds from the Karain Cave near Antalya point to the early settlement of Ankara by Neanderthals. They are estimated to be around 400,000 years old, making them the oldest archaeological finds in Turkey.

From the Neolithic period, statues and terracotta vessels up to 6,000 years old are on display, including the Venus of Çatalhöyük, the oldest large settlement in Turkey. A large number of artistic figures and standards from the Copper and Bronze Ages are also on display, as well as valuable grave goods made of gold, silver and amber.

The Hittites were the first people to leave a lasting mark on the history of Anatolia. Their capital Hattuša advanced to become one of the most important archaeological sites from the 4th century AD.


After the Hittites, the Phrygians settled in Asia Minor and left their capital Gordion with the first ceramic products as a site for today's researchers. Then came the Urartians, from whom today elaborate ivory carvings and bronze objects have been preserved.

In the basement, artistic masterpieces of the Greeks, Romans and Ottomans are exhibited, including a particularly valuable completely preserved Roman head made of marble.

Outside, all those finds that take up a lot of space can be seen, such as whole wall fragments, stelae and stone sculptures, including a copy of the monument of Fasillar, a 70-tonne Hittite sculpture that lies seemingly useless in the sand about 60km west of Konya.