If, in your first time to Turkey, you have landed in Istanbul, Ankara is something you don’t expect: your plane is surrounded by bare land, no visible landmarks.
No special reason gave birth to Ankara. What we all see today is the product of the 20th century, and the consequence of the powerful decision Atatürk made when choosing a capital for modern Turkey.
From that moment in history, the urban area has been molded in its distinguishing nature. Ankara is institutional, big, imposing, but neat, and surprisingly calm. And when I say calm, I am comparing it to Istanbul, not Tallinn!
Here is the video to my last trip to Turkey (Istanbul + Ankara). It’s been two wonderful weeks of conference and tourism!
The city and the people
This quietness reflects into the street behavior (unless you are in Kizilay square or in a taxi) and in its people. Ankarans are willing to listen and smile a lot, and they take their time to ponder and answer. Don’t push them too much, don’t rush them! That’s the worst idea you may have.
The business side
The same applies to business. Expect calm sessions of discussions and negotiations, and smiles even when the atmosphere becomes tense.
If I’m writing about tension is because I have experienced it. So please read this carefully to avoid my mistake! Do not question their authority (even when it’s obvious that they have none). This is exactly how I feel politics has influenced Ankara: it is the heart of the political life, the place where the direction of the country is decided. This means that the institutions, and the people that work there, have a big responsibility towards the rest of the country, and a huge pride at the same time. If you want a way to win them over, then you should leverage their ego (yes, I am not going back on this word!) and explain calmly how you can help them improve their prestige, if you can.
Napoli & Italy
If I had to think of an Italian city that reminds me of Ankara the most, this would clearly be Rome. In Rome, not much business is going on compared to Milan, as not much is going on in Ankara if you compare it to Istanbul. However, both being capitals, the institutional trait of the two cities is evident in every aspect of life. And business. And let me tell you, I don’t really like when these two spheres touch… But I am a Neapolitan, and Napoli is a much smaller Istanbul, so you can easily understand where I see myself operating.
If you need more tips on Turkey, I have already written much about it, since I have collected some recommendations for you on how to handle people living in this little piece of earth in the past two years. Izmir was a much relaxed place to be, compared to the chaotic Istanbul. But Istanbul is hopelessly in my heart… 🙂