To many visitors the sudden sound of air sirens all across Turkey might come as a surprise, especially given the sight of office workers emptying into the streets and citizens suddenly standing in somber silence. These are the scenes across Turkey at 9:05 am every November 10th, which becomes a nationwide memorial honoring the founder of the country, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who passed away on the date and time in 1938.
Dramatically traffic comes to a halt even on the two Istanbul bridges that cross the Bosporus, drivers get out of their cars, standing for two minutes of silence next to their vehicles. For those of you visiting Turkey on this day, it’s best to get up early to find a good vantage point to witness the commemoration.
Where To Attend November 10th Ceremonies
In Istanbul, Taksim Square or any of the cafe rooftops directly in front of it, are good locations. Additionally, the Military Museum (Askeri Muzesi) and Dolmabahce Palace although busy, are especially worth visiting on this day.
In Ankara, Ataturk’s Mausoleum Anitkabir is where to be, Turkey’s For Life has instructions on how to get there. Across other cities in Turkey to put on your itinerary it’s best to get in touch with the local tourism board to find out what events might be taking place. My recommendation for a more local look at November 10th in Turkey would be to get in touch with a nearby public school to arrange a visit for the morning. (They’re more than likely to welcome you.)
As The Moment Comes To An End
Wreaths laid, silence is eventually broken by the Turkish national anthem as life slowly rolls into regular pace. No matter when visiting in the year, you’ll notice enough statues and pictures to make you wonder why Ataturk’s image is everywhere in Turkey. Ataturk’s likeness isn’t a look into the past but a reminder; what he created is a path, for Turks today, to determine their own destiny.