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Central Anatolia

Vast & Bountiful

Have you heard of Central Anatolia—or Turkey’s Anatolia region generally? If not, you’re missing something big. We say “big” because Anatolia comprises all of Turkey, except Thrace (Trakya).

Whereas Thrace lies in Europe and includes a large portion of Istanbul, Turkey’s Anatolia region (also known as Asia Minor) is the more substantial part of Turkey when it comes to geographic size. Thrace includes 3% of Turkey’s land and 10% of its population. The rest is in Anatolia.

The central part of Turkey is a very diverse region in many ways—ranging from government-focused Ankara to the fairy castles of Cappadocia to the business center of Kayseri to Konya, a city known for its varied religious background.

Central Anatolia

Historically, Anatolia has had tremendous cultural and geopolitical significance to Turkey as well as both the Ancient and Modern worlds writ large. It’s located at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, and has been home to multiple ethnic and religious groups.

Central Anatolia is a large swath of land in and of itself, occupying about 163,000 km². Among Turkey’s seven regions, this is Turkey’s second-largest (the largest being Eastern Anatolia).

The region encompasses the following provinces: Ankara, Konya, Nevsehir, Kayseri, Yozgat, Aksaray, Kirikkale, Kirsehir, Nigde, Sivas, Eskisehir, Cankiri and Karaman.

While the Turkish government is heavily centralized in Ankara, the provincial governors serve as representatives of the central government and perform routine administrative functions. Each province is further subdivided into districts.

Geography and Climate

Sometimes called the Anatolian Plateau, Central Anatolia is circumscribed by the Pontus Mountains to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south.

The contrast between summers and winters in this region is more pronounced than in other parts of the country. Central Anatolia is generally warmer than Eastern Anatolia with an average of 20 to 25 degrees Celsius in summer and 1 to 5 degrees Celsius in winter.

Rain is not a significant water source here as annual precipitation is meager, ranging between 280 and 400 mm annually. It does not affect the local rainfalls, but especially since 2014, the climate has also been changing here while the new dams built around the region also adds to the humidity.

Despite having a semi-arid climate and the occasional drought, this area is known for its farmland thanks to the alluvial soils found in the basins. Land cultivation began early here, around 8,300 B.C. Today, it produces about 40% of the country’s wheat along with other produce.

Regional History

This striking plateau owes much of its memorable topography to pre-historical events. This includes its level plateau that covers most of the region as well as the remarkable stone formations found in Cappadocia.

The oldest artifacts in the date back to hunter-gatherers were found in Avanos town of Cappadocia, which is known for its beautiful pottery art. At the height of 500 meters, hunters running after a rabbit (!) found a pretty narrow entrance of a cave, that opens to a large gallery after crawling down the tunnel. Under a collapsed wall of the cave named Civelek, three pottery pieces were found and dated back to 8,000 BC to 10,000 BC years old with the carbon-14 dating technique.

As the primary industries are farming and animal husbandry for the majority of Central Anatolia, the Mother Goddess cult, as the man was seeking answers for the creativity of Mother Nature. Thus, women were highly respected, and the cults of Kybele, Cybele, or Artemis symbolized fertility (just as birth-giving) throughout history at many corners of this fertile region.

Eons later, this part of what is now Turkey was critical to the fortunes of the Persian Empire due to its central location along routes of conquest and trade.

Much more recently, this region played pivotal roles in the foundation of Christianity during the fall of Rome and the early years of the Common Era.

It subsequently saw the rise of Islam within its borders during the development of the Ottoman Empire in the second millennium B.C.

Another important event for this region was the designation of Ankara as the Turkish capital. It replaced Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) upon the founding of the Republic of Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Ankara remains the capital today.

Central Anatolia in Modern Times

Along with its dominant role in Turkey’s contemporary government and economy, the region at Turkey’s center is adored for its many tourist destinations. Although the remarkable landscape of Cappadocia leads the way in international acclaim, that’s hardly all there is to see and do.

Here are some other “can’t-miss” things to see and do here:

  • Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Ankara)—a comprehensive museum of Turkish history
  • Hattusha (Bogazkoy)—the capital of the Hittite Empire, now a renowned archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage listing
  • The Cappadocia region—home to the famed “fairy castles” and other natural and historical wonders
  • Eski Carsi (Safranbolu)—excellent preserved and restored buildings
  • Mevlana Museum (Konya)—former home to the whirling dervishes and their founder Celaleddin Rumi (later known as Mevlâna)

Of course, there is much more to explore throughout Turkey, and you can discover that for yourself when you come for a visit. There are also many delicious foods to taste here!

Where to Visit

Apart from some of the significant highlights above, if interested, you can discover one of the best “Karum,” trading center of the Assyrian Trade Colonies in Kayseri, called Kultepe-Kanesh. There were more than 25,000 tablets found, which makes the first written sources in Central Anatolia. The tablets covered marriage and trade contracts when Assyrians brought tin, perfume, and textiles from the North Mesopotamia.

If interested in Seljuk Art, Sivas city has a unique mosque along with a hospital complex that is known to one of a kind masterpiece of Islamic Art. Both architects and art historians admit that there are no similar samples of the three dimensional, and there are no other examples of the three dimensional and elaborate geometric styles with the bonus floral designs.

See Central Anatolia for Yourself!

You can tell there are good reasons to visit Central Turkey and the Central Anatolia region in particular. When you’re ready to plan and schedule a tour, just let us know. We’re looking forward to helping with your plans!