Ulucanlar Prison Museum, Ankara

After undergoing restoration, the Ulucanlar state prison located in Ankara was converted into the Ulucanlar Prison Museum. The museum was opened in 2011. It is the first prison museum to be established in Turkey. From its establishment to its closing in 2006, Ulucanlar Prison witnessed the history of many political periods in Turkey. During its 81-year existence, it held many noteworthy intellectuals with different political views, including journalists, writers, poets, politicians, criminals, and political activists. Among them were the politicians Hatip Dicle and Bulent Ecevit, the writers Kemal Tahir, Fakir Baykurt, and Ya^ar Kemal, and the journalists Cuneyt Ardayurek and Metin Toker. The prison was also the site of torture, cruelty, numerous prison riots, and executions (http://en.wikipedia.org).

When it comes to interpretation, the Ulucanlar Prison Museum has been designed in such a way as to provide travelers the opportunity to gain intimate insight into the 81-year history of the prison. Culture, art, and new hopes abound in its corridors. All of the prison’s buildings, wards, visitor rooms, and cells are well preserved in the Ulucanlar Prison Museum.

The museum acts as a living museum, as all the areas where the prisoners used to eat, sleep, and bath have been restored and carefully preserved. The personnel belongings of notable figures, such as Bfilent Ecevit’s hat and tie, Yusuf Aslan’s scarf, and Muhsin Yazicioglu’s prayer cap and rug (www.ulucanlarcezaevimuzesi. com), are on exhibit in this museum. The museum has the claim to fame of being the most visited museum in Turkey. Some days, it hosts nearly 3500 visitors. Most of the visitors to the museum are interested in getting a better sense of what the riots and executions that took place within the walls of the prison were really like. To attract a greater number of dark tourists from around the world, the local municipal government should focus their attention on providing more information about planning a visit and on instituting adequate programs and strategies for managing visiting tours. Furthermore, tour operators should include this museum on their tour routes to increase awareness about the Ulucanlar Prison Museum. The museum serves a special purpose in helping people not to forget the memories of the bitter past that were experienced in the wards and cells of the prison.

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