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How cultural war made Ankara an architectural battleground

Ankara’s austere and minimalist flavor is a shock to many who are more accustomed to architecture around the Bosphorus, but for local residents, the city's gray buildings are icons from a cherished era.
A general view of residential and commercial areas in Ankara, Turkey, April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC1129626470

“Space is no scientific object removed from ideology or politics. It has always been political and strategic,” the French philosopher Henri Lefebvre asserted. Nowhere does this seem to reverberate more today than in Ankara, Turkey’s often forgotten and somber capital.

Once a remote backwater in the Anatolian heartland, Ankara became the showcase of the newly forged Turkish Republic established in 1923. Modern Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk, envisioned the capital of the new nation-state as the antithesis of the grandiloquent Istanbul, and it certainly doesn't compete for pomp with its bigger sister.

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