Project Competition

After choosing the location of Anıtkabir, the committee, which was formed under the chairmanship of the Permanent Undersecretary of the Prime Ministry, announced the final properties of Anıtkabir. This announcement can be summoned as follows:

“Anıtkabir, which is to convey the works of the Great Man who still lives in the heart of the Great Turkish Nation even after his death, must be prepared according to the following fundamental principles:

1. Anıtkabir will be a visiting place. This visiting place will be entered through a big entrance and it will be appropriate for thousands of Turks to show their loyalty and their respect by bowing their heads before Atatürk.

2. This monument will be the symbol of Atatürk’s character, strength and talents; he will be symbolized as a soldier, statesman, great politician and scientist, great thinker and creative genius; thus, the monument will reflect his personality.

3. Anıtkabir needs to be seen from a distance as well as up close. Thus, it must provide a grand silhouette.

4. The name and personality of Atatürk symbolizes the Turkish Nation. Those who want to show their respect to the Turkish Nation will fulfill their wish by bowing their heads before the catafalque of the Great Forefather.

5. Anıtkabir will have a Hall of Honor.

6. Anıtkabir will have an Atatürk Museum.

7. A Hall of Honor will be built in Anıtkabir. Since the sarcophagus of Atatürk will be placed here, the Hall of Honor will be the soul and the most prominent part of the monument. The Hall of Honor will be a large hall where foreign delegates, and primarily the Turkish Nation, will move towards the sarcophagus of Atatürk to bestow their respects. The effects of the grandeur and strength have been left to the competitors. For that reason, no size, shape, dimension and height of the hall have been specified.

8. The place of Atatürk’s sarcophagus will form the spirit of the Hall of Honor. Competitors will also choose the place for the sarcophagus.

9. In addition to these, there will be a special notebook so that high officials and representatives of foreign states can write their feelings and ideas.

10. Atatürk’s Museum will be appropriate for the exhibition of photographs, garments, handwritings, signatures, books which were read and examined by him and some personal belongings that represent various periods of his life.”

This explanation prepared by the Anıtkabir Commission was met with pleasure by the artists who intended to join the competition as it would allow them to work freely.

The principles laid by the Anıtkabir Commission formed the basis of the specifications of the Anıtkabir project competition. Prime Minister Refik Saydam, who spoke at the session of the Turkish Grand National Assembly dated March 26, 1940, clarified that a project competition would be held for Anıtkabir and that the competition specifications had been prepared in accordance with the International Architects’ Statute. The Prime Ministry had the announcement published on February 18, 1941. This announcement can be summarized as follows:

1. As a result of investigations made regarding the Anıtkabir project competition , it was concluded that the competition would be held among Turkish and foreign engineers, architects and sculptors since an international competition was impossible.

2. The construction program of the monument and additional buildings, competition regulations and the map of the construction area, drilling plans and other scientific reports have already been prepared and this document will be handed free of charge to those who can document that they have constructed such important buildings before.

3. Those interested need to send their documents with a petition to the “Chairmanship of the Anıtkabir Commission” located in the Prime Ministry. The commission will send those qualified a copy of the file including competition documents as soon as possible. The documents of those disqualified will be returned.

4. As the competition will end on the evening of October 31, 1941, the competitors are obliged to send the commission their project drafts by then. The specifications for the Anıtkabir project competition were prepared both in French and Turkish and opened to competitors by the government on March 1, 1941. The specifications were made public as well.

The year the competition started was the bloodiest and hardest times of the Second World War. Some parts of Europe, Asia and Africa were involved in the war. The time granted for the competition was 8 months. It was evident that the Anıtkabir project would not be completed in such a short period. Many requests for time extension were made to the commission. Therefore, the deadline was extended for four months through a decision taken by the Council of Ministers. The decision of the Council of Ministers regarding this issue includes the following points:

1. The deadline of the competition has been extended to the evening of March 2, 1942.

2. Competitors in Turkey are to deliver their projects to the Anıtkabir Commission by this date. In order for their projects to reach the commission by the same date competitors abroad should make sure that they have delivered their projects to the Turkish Embassy of their own country by February 2, 1942.

3. There are no other alterations in the competition regulations and program and other documents and conditions.

The government took a major decision regarding the conditions of the project competition and published this decision in various languages. The works of the artists to take part in the Anıtkabir competition would be assessed by an international jury. This decision aroused great pleasure in the public eye. The jury was going to choose 3 projects at the end of the competition. The winner would be awarded the right to control the construction. Each of the other two projects would be granted 3000 TL since these two projects would be considered to have came second place in the competition, and one or more projects would be rewarded with an honorable mention worth 1000 TL with the proposal of the jury members.

The jury commission constituted by the government was composed of famous European artists (German Prof. Paul Bonatz, Swiss Prof. Ivar Tengbom and Hungarian Prof. Karoly Wichinger) and famous Turkish artists (Prof. Arif Hikmet Holtay, Master Architect Muammer Çavuşoğlu, the Chief of the Building & Zoning Department from the Ministry of Public Works and the Ankara Zoning Manager, Master Architect Muhlis Sertel) of the time.

The competition aroused more interest than expected. Even though it was the hardest times of the Second World War, 49 projects from Turkey, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France and Czechoslovakia applied for the competition. The admission process of the projects sent to the competition was performed according to an international competition procedure. Since there were no names and addresses on the projects, the owners of the projects were unknown.

The jury members met at the Prime Ministry on March 12, 1942 after the application period had ended. The Ankara Exhibition House was allocated for the studies of the jury. The jury, at its first meeting, selected Prof. P. Bonatz as the Chairman of the Committee and Master Architect M. Sertel as the reporter. The jury members, after the first meeting, visited Atatürk’s temporary tomb at the Ethnography Museum, laid a wreath on the Victory Monument and then conducted some research at Rasattepe.

After they had started the studies in the Ankara Exhibition House, the jury members examined the projects sent to the competition. Each member went over the projects according to the numbers put on them and graded them secretly. The jury completed its studies on 20 March 1942 and presented the report including the assessments of the projects to the Prime Ministry. Members of the jury went back to their countries on March 21, 1942.

The Anıtkabir Commission of the Prime Ministry announced the results of the jury members’ studies which lasted ten days to the public by publishing an official statement. This statement can be summarized as follows:

1. 49 projects took part in the international project competition of Anıtkabir which was agreed to be built on Rasattepe for the Eternal Chief Atatürk.

2. Two of the projects were disqualified by the jury committee according to Item 7 of the competition regulations: one arrived at the commission after the deadline and the other one had no sign of the identity of its sender on the package. Thus, the examination studies included 47 projects.

3. 17 of the 47 projects were rejected by the jury as they didn’t have the quality to fulfill the high goal of the competition.

4. The remaining 30 projects were revised by the jury for a second elimination and 19 of them were not accepted due to reasons explained in the report of the jury committee.

5. Hence, 3 out of the 11 projects that were qualified in the first two examinations and left to a final examination were found appropriate enough for the award and 5 of them were found praiseworthy and their purchase was proposed to the government.

6. The projects that were found appropriate for the award by the jury committee are as follows:

42 11119 Architect Ronald Rohn
41 63636 Architect Giovanni Muzio



Architect Guiseppe Vaccaro - Architect Gino Franzi

24 22218 Architect Hamit Kemali Söylemezoğlu - Architect Kemal Ahmet Aru -
Architect Recai Akçay
29 12898 Architect Feridun Akozan - Architect M.Ali Handan

7. The 5 praiseworthy the jury projects which proposed that the government purchase are as follows in order of merit :

42 11119 Architect Ronald Rohn
41 63636 Architect Giovanni Muzio



Architect Guiseppe Vaccaro - Architect Gino Franzi

24 22218 Architect Hamit Kemali Söylemezoğlu - Architect Kemal Ahmet Aru -
Architect Recai Akçay
29 12898 Architect Feridun Akozan - Architect M.Ali Handan

8. All these decisions were taken unanimously by the jury committee.

9. As mentioned above in Article 6 and Article 7, the 8 projects that were found praiseworthy or received an award are the property of the government according to Article 19 within competition regulations.

10. The exact report of the jury committee will be published and also sent to those who entered the competition.

11. The 47 projects that gained the right to enter the competition according to Article 2 will be displayed in the Ankara Exhibition House during the period between the morning of March 24, 1942 and the evening of March 31, 1942.

After the results had been announced by the committee, Turkish architect Prof. Emin Onat, who was the owner of one of the three projects found appropriate for an award, made the following explanation regarding his project:

"I am rather happy to get the result from the competition attended by various countries. Especially, since it is the monument to be built for our Eternal Chief Atatürk, my happiness has grown more and more. Like other friends, I made a great effort for this competition and wanted to be successful. There is no doubt that the competition increased the value of Turkish architects. Turkish architecture has shown great development and progress. It is a praiseworthy achievement in terms of Turkish architecture as the jury composed of European individuals of great value has reached such a decision."

As has been explained so far , the jury found 3 out of 49 projects sent to the Anıtkabir project competition appropriate for the award. The first one of these works was the work of German Prof. Johannes Kruger, who built the famous Tannenberg Monument; the other was the work of Italian Prof. Arnaldo Foschini; and the third one was the work of Emin Onat, a professor from the İstanbul Faculty of Architecture and Assistant Professor Orhan Arda.

The jury had accepted the three projects unanimously, but hadn’t considered any of them superior to the other. The jury criticized these 3 projects one by one, and recommended some changes on them. According to the booklet of the jury report on the Anıtkabir Project Competition, the criticisms and the recommendations can be explained as follows:

The jury found five of the works that were sent to the project competition appropriate for honorable mention. These were the works of Swiss architect Ronald Rohn, Italian architect Giovanni Muzio, Italian architects Giuseppe Vaccaro-Gino Franzi, Turkish architects Hamit Kemal Söylemezoğlu-Kemal Ahmet Aru-Recai Akçay and Feridun Akozan-M.Ali Handan.

In addition, in the report, the jury, criticized all these five works one by one in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. These criticisms can be summarized as follows:

a. Project Number 42: Ronald Rohn

"The project of the Swiss architect is different from the others in terms of composition. The monument was designed exactly in accordance with the land conditions. The Mausoleum, museum and other details were put in order separately and combined very well. But the work lacked grandeur and the monumental effects which are necessary for a monument. However, the idea is strong."

b. Project Number 41: Giovanni Muzio

"The project was inspired by the designs of the oldest monuments and grave forms in terms of exterior architecture. Even though the pyramid on an octagonal plan seems very fitting for the construction, the architect filled it up with so many windows that only a reinforced concrete and hard system can achieve it. There is disharmony between the pyramidal actual mass and other details. "

c. Project Number 45: Giuseppe Vaccaro-Gino Franzi

"This project has a decorative interior architecture, but an unnecessarily, difficult style of building rather than a serious and classic effect. The monument which rises on only four corner stands could only be built by covering the outer surface with plates after it was built as a reinforced concrete framework. It is uncertain that this construction style will prove to be efficient for the construction of such a monument which is expected to be everlasting."

d. Project Number 24 : K.Söylemezoğlu-K.Ahmet Aru-R.Akçay

"The monument rising on a square plan and supplemented by corner structures expresses strength. The corner structures made in order to reflect an impressive exterior view are narrow and exaggerated in proportion to the entrance. But it is unsure whether the pyramidal roof is suitable here. On account of too many windows, it looks like a castle rather than a mausoleum."

e. Project Number 29: Feridun Akozan-M.Ali Handan

"This project consists of an enlarged simple cube shape with additions made on its four sides. Although only three of these four additions constitute a nest in the monument, they have been covered by the fourth wall which falls on the entrance side. The walls have a gentle slope inside and outside. However, the ceiling which is covered with stone plates constitutes a problem."

Neither of the 3 works considered to be appropriate for an award was seen superior to the other by the jury. One of the articles on “The Conditions of the Anıtkabir Project Competition” stated, “The exact right to elect one of the three projects considered best by the jury committee belongs directly to the Government of the Turkish Republic”. Accordingly, the right to elect one of these projects belonged to the government.

The government decided to apply the work of Prof. Emin Onat and Asst. Prof. Orhan Arda after consulting the opinions of many authorities regarding this issue. The decision was based on the following points: the three projects which won the competition are of the same value in terms of their qualities. Yet, the work of the two Turks among others could better express the national theme. As the jury stated in their report, the appropriateness of this project to the area is superior to all the rest.

The government, taking into consideration the changes proposed by the jury into consideration, decided to apply the works of the Turkish artists on May 7, 1942. The official statement announcing this decision was published on June 9, 1942 by the government and in summary, it included the following points:

  1. Out of the three projects that were found appropriate for an award by the jury evaluating the Anıtkabir project for Eternal Chief Atatürk:    a. The one belonging to Prof. Emin Onat and Asst. Prof. Orhan Arda has been elected as the winner.    b. The two projects belonging to J. Kruger and Italian Professor A. Foschini have second place
  2. None of these three projects are suitable enough to be applied directly and they need some changes, and the project which is in first place will be applied after carrying out those changes defined on the project report of the jury commission.
  3. The foreseen changes will be performed by a commission of experts in which the owner of the project that has come in first place in the competition will also be involved.

On October 28, 1943, after the work of the Turkish artists was accepted, a new commission was established to perform the proposed project in the report of the jury commission. The commission was composed of Prof. Paul Bonatz serving under the authority of the Ministry of Education, the Chairman of Zoning and Building Works under the service of the Ministry of Public Works, Sırrı Sayar, and the Chief of the Architecture Branch of the Fine Arts Academy, Prof. Sedat Eldem. Prospective changes in the project were determined following a discussion with the artists. In the project, the castle axis and the walls around the Hall of Honor were being criticized since they deprived the construction of its monumental quality. The changes within the project included the enhancements of these points. Having started on April 5, 1943, Emin Onat and Orhan Arda submitted their work to the commission on October 7, 1943. According to the specification, the owner of the work had the rights of applying and controlling the winner project of the competition. For that reason, making a decision including their ideas for the actual monument project and park plan of the monument area and also the relationship of this integrity with the zoning plan of Ankara, the commission granted these rights to Orhan Arda and Emin Onat on November 18, 1943. After the report, the projects and models prepared by the commission were examined at the meeting of the Council of Ministers and the application of the project started on November 18, 1943.

Prof. Emin Onat explained how the Anıtkabir project was formed as follows :

"One of the most important reforms that Atatürk accomplished was definitely to show us the real value of the past. Although the Ottoman period was full of honor, we have to admit that it consisted of a closed world dominated by a scholastic spirit. In fact our history was not merely a conservative civilization which was once called “Period of the Islamic Community” by Ziya Gökalp. Our history goes back thousands of years like many Mediterranean nations. It starts with the Sumerians and the Hittites and dissolves into the lives of lots of tribes from Middle Asia to the inner parts of Europe forming one of the major roots of the classical tradition of the Mediterranean civilization. Atatürk made us change our point of view as he injected within us this rich and productive love of history. He made the biggest of the attempts to rescue us from Middle Ages. He showed us that our real history did not belong to Middle Ages, but to the common sources of world classics.

He explained that true nationalism could never have the support of a conservative traditionalism of Middle Ages and that it could only come into existence by searching for the roots of the old and common civilization. Which idea could better express that becoming civilized, European and becoming nationalist meant the same?

Therefore, we wanted the monument we are to build for the Great Leader to express the new spirit introduced by his reforms to awaken the Nation from the Middle Ages and for the resurrection of the Turkish Nation . This spirit could not be an immortal spirit belonging to one of the many civilizations our nation passed through. Atatürk’s genius showed us that one of the greatest civilizations of the world, the Sumerian civilization was created by Turks. As it is the basis of the Mediterranean civilization, the basis of civilization can also be found in the same place in this era. Thus, we desired to plan the mausoleum of our Ancestor, who made the biggest attempt for westernization, in the form of the classical spirit based on the rational contours of the civilization of seven thousand years rather than the spirit of the tomb of a sultan or cleric.

If one wants to find structures enduring long years, nothing but the gift of nature must be sought. It is nature’s stone that age with dignity. For this reason, it was decided to construct the mausoleum of stone. Due to the fact that the architectural power of the building depends on the question of whether it appears in the same form from everywhere or not, the outside of the building is not like a mask, on the contrary, creating it as a reflection of interiors was seriously emphasized.

The Hall of Honor including the sarcophagus of Atatürk was erected high above the block in order to be seen strikingly from outside the architecture and to give the monument a deep impact. Memories of Atatürk surround this hall in the museums on the first floor. The monument is situated on a platform raised six meters high above the square with stairs, the floor is kept as a closed massive wall with small windows and from the top it is covered with stone columns which give way to great light and shadow contrasts in the sunny climate of Ankara. When looked from afar off, strength and greatness are expressed as requested by the program. The external walls of the block, which rise above the colonnade and resemble a coffin, are decorated with reliefs illustrating the War of Independence and the Turkish Revolution.

The eastern entrance of the monument is at the head of the Lion Road. At the beginning of this road, one reaches the entrance protected by two guards at the top of the four-meter- high stairs. Here is the eastern entrance of the monument. Rasattepe is prevented from being a weak hill deprived of a strong posture as the monument stands on a high platform erected on all sides owing to the building of the enclosing walls under the monument.

When placing the monument on the hill, two strong perpendicular axes are the basis. One of these axes passes through the Ankara Castle, the other passes through the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The first one takes precious personality from the city symbolizing the attempt at the beginning with its castle character while the direction of the other shows Çankaya, the place of saviors and pioneers of this revolution. The place of the intersection of these axes makes one drift through the anxieties of the beginning and continuity as much as it constitutes the centre of the architecture of the Ceremony Square.

There is a 180 meters long platform when entered from the Entrance of Honor. Four rows of poplars are planted on both sides. This dignified place shall invite everyone to seriousness and silence. This walk creates an atmosphere to prepare the visitors for homage. There is a square at the end of this Lion Road. Three sides of this square are surrounded by galleries with stone bases. Ministries, Çankaya and the Assembly are seen from the entrance direction of this square.

Wide stairs start in the direction of the castle leading to the platform of Anıtkabir. This way one reaches the Hall of Honor. The preparation and the waiting period which leads to the rapture and impatience awakening in the soul of the visitor ends here before reaching the actual monument. Above the open stairs rises the Hall of Honor, so steep, surrounded by a large gallery with stone bases.