Anıtkabir is the final resting place of the Turkish Republic’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Within the complex is a long road adorned with lion statues, a museum containing Atatürk’s personal belongings and presenting the foundation of the Turkish Republic, and a large building that holds his tomb seven meters below the ground. We had a great time walking around Anıtkabir with our tour guide, learning about the history of Turkey’s role in World War I and its War of Independence. The tour was a fantastic experience from an anthropological perspective, as we gained insight into the power of Atatürk in Turkish collective memory. Our tour guide compared Atatürk to George Washington, but the power of his mausoleum and the prevalence of Atatürk in Turkish culture seems to be much stronger than that of George Washington in American culture. In one of my classes, we will be discussing Atatürk’s position in Turkish culture and society, so perhaps after a bit of academic digging, I’ll have more information for you all.
These statues, located near the entrance of the complex, are meant to represent the men and women that make up Turkish society. A peasant, member of the intelligentsia, and military officer make up the men guarding the entrance to Anıtkabir. Symbols of piety and respect for Atatürk make up the women’s statues.
This is Atatürk’s tomb in the building used for ceremonies, but his actual resting place is located seven meters below. You cannot enter the room where his coffin lies, but there is 24/7 video coverage of the space. Around his sarcophagus, they have laid soil from every province in Turkey, as well as Azerbaijan and Northern Cyprus.