UNESCO Cities of Design

The Chief of the War of Independence and the First President of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s Mausoleum, holds a lot of interesting facts of its construction over 9 years, from 1944 to 1953. Let’s look at what has happened from the design of the Mausoleum until its construction.


Mithat Aydın, one of the deputies of the period, suggested Rasattepe as the location of the Mausoleum because, in a trip, Atatürk said to him: “This hill is very beautiful for a monument.” After the proposal of Deputy Aydin was accepted, an international competition was organized for the design of Anitkabir. In the beginning, only the foreign architects were eligible to participate and the competition saw a great reaction by the press and intellectuals.

Turkish intellectuals objected “it is unfair to deprive Turkish artists of creating such a national monument!” It was then decided that the competition would be open to both Turkish and foreign architects.

1) The mausoleum, first of all, would be a place to visit. It must have a big entrance as to hold a million people, maybe more.

2) The memorial must be built proportional to his personality, to symbolize all Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s qualifications as a soldier, as the head of state, and as a great thinker.

3) The monument should be designed to have an impressive silhouette when seen from afar.

4) Katafalk, which will be made for the coffin of Atatürk, will enable people to show their respect to the Turkish nation.

5) An Atatürk Museum in the monument should also have a section.

6) A hall of honor should be build in which Atatürk’s sarcophagus will be placed. The hall, which will be the most important part of the monument, should be a great entrance for anyone who wants to pay respect to Atatürk.

7) The location of the sarcophagus will constitute the spirit of the honor hall, and the place where the sarcophagus will be placed is left to the decision of the contestants.

8) There will be a golden book where visitors can convey their feelings and thoughts.

9) The Atatürk Museum should be suitable for exhibiting the photographs, clothes, signature and handwriting, articles and various books of him.

In order to protect the impartiality of the competition to design the monument, a jury composed of professors from different nationalities was formed.

47 artists participated in the competition. The jury decided to reward 3 projects presented by German, Italian and Turkish architects. However, a selection could not be made from these three projects.

The Parliament, which considers the opinions of many competent people, then chose the project of architects Emin Onay and Orhan Arda.

The construction of the agreed monument started on October 9, 1944, and the mausoleum was completed almost nine years later on September 1, 1953.