When the first Turkish nomads arrived in Anatolia during the tenth and eleventh centuries, the landscape – rolling grassland dotted with rocky outcrops – must have been strongly reminiscent of their Central Asian homeland. Those who choose to trek through the region today are an equally hardy bunch, braving long journey times, occasionally tricky roads and seasonal temperature extremes to visit towns, cities and sights far less heralded than their counterparts in South Central Anatolia. However, visitors prepared to do a little digging will find it one of Turkey’s most rewarding and undiscovered quarters. Ankara in particular, the provincial town that found itself suddenly elevated to become capital of the entire country, feels surprisingly untouristed despite being the political and social centre of modern Turkey.

Elsewhere, charming Safranbolu, north of Ankara towards the Black Sea coast, and Amasya, northeast of Ankara, boast some of Turkey’s most beautiful ensembles of Ottoman buildings. Directly east of Ankara, the former Hittite capital of Hattuşa, with its temples and fortresses, is simply jaw-dropping, while there’s some terrific Selçuk architecture in far-flung Sivas and Divriği.

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