What will you see on your trip to the past of Ulucanlar?
First stop Hilton Ward
Several parts of the prison can be toured within a determined route. The visitors that are having an emotional journey to the past pass through a dark, cold corridor with the smell of mold which reaches to the 9th and 10th Wards also called the "Hilton". At the end of the corridor, the visitors see the “Hilton” ward. Hilton is known for hosting mostly the people well-known by all of us in terms of literature, poets, journalists and writers. Two of Hilton’s guests were Bülent Ecevit and Necip Fazıl Kısakürek.
Then you can tour the solitary cells
The solitary cells called "Müteferrika" (place to hold suspects) in the first years are reached from right by the Hilton. The prisoners whose conviction order is not finalized and the persons who committed a discipline crime inside or thought that must be separated from other prisoners due to the crime they committed outside were kept in these cells. This section’s narrow corridor, dim lights, iron gates and pitch dark solitary cells help to understand prison conditions better. While the sounds you hear on the corridor you think will never end give you the creeps, you will think of how the prisoners who stayed here coped with these hard conditions as you progress towards the yards reaching freedom in the dark, cold and deep halls.
Wards remind you of the old Turkish movies
After the cells, the wards are the next. Wards are also furnished in accordance with the conditions back then. The furnishings were completed with materials to tell the story of nearly all eras in the history of Ulucanlar, as a result of the comprehensive studies. Several things among the iron bunk beds and lockers, wooden table and chairs, and an old stove catch the eye in the wards furnished selectively. Visual enhancement of the wards is completed with wax statues. A prisoner hits the strings of his saz; you can almost hear a folk song. Another prisoner sips his tea with grief another one laying on his bed seems like he is dreaming of freedom. When all these things obtained with a fussy research combine with the impact of the wax statues, the wards look like the prison scenes in the old Turkish movies. You can easily feel like you are watching the movie Duvar (The Wall) made by Yılmaz Güney inspired by his own memories in Ulucanlar or Uçurtmayı Vurmasınlar (Don’t Let Them Shoot the Kite) made by Feride Çiçekoğlu in Ulucanlar. Besides the wards, the yards also act as an open-air exhibition for the photos of Ulucanlar Prison. The yards where the prisoners used to pace, count their beads and show off today features their photos. In the yard where photos related to the prison processes of famous prisoners are exhibited, the old photos taken related to some criminal prisoners in Ulucanlar Prison and information on the photos are also showcased. Photos designed and exhibited specifically in a film strip concept make the prison's history flash before your eyes.
Ulucanlar is now an 81 Years Old Archive..!!
The next stop in the tour is the wards where the information, documents and belongings of the famous prisoners are located. Data in these wards that almost act as an archive for the prison’s history of 81 years were obtained as a result of the comprehensive research. The information, documents and belongings obtained as a result of the interviews with prisoners' families as well as the data scattered in various institutions of Turkey were gathered in these wards in the prison. Politicians, journalists, writers, filmmakers, poets are among the people who were convicted to prison time for almost the same reason, for thinking and for speaking or writing their thoughts despite their different political views. Common trait of all these famous people who made it into Turkey's history is that they have stayed in Ulucanlar even though in different times and periods. Wards that contain information on these people are also furnished according to the conditions of the day.
Do not forget to stop by the Museum library
Library is another section that must be seen. Museum library is a historical archive filled with the books written by the unforgettable people of Turkey’s struggle for democracy, important publications of various eras, court records of the actors of the day, imprisonment reports and with the first issues of exclusively valuable publications which are hard to find today. The next stop is the prison hammam (bath). The hammam where the prisoners used to bathe was also furnished in accordance with the original after being restored. Hammam is not only an area for the prisoners to bath; it also acted as a vessel for escape plans of prisoners for several times in the past, it has been a pass between captivity and freedom. Don’t leave without seeing the art gallery after the hammam. The art gallery in the main building will fulfill an important need of Ankara. Signed under important studies in culture and arts in Ankara, Altındağ Municipality aims to be one of the exemplary places of the Capital in this field with Ulucanlar Prison Center of Arts and Culture. Stating that the Prison has several suitable places for holding meetings, organizing conferences and exhibitions, Altındağ Municipality Mayor Veysel Tiryaki adds that the doors are open to anyone.
How about keeping a souvenir with you as you leave the prison museum? You may find several handmade products by prisoners in other prisons here.
We Imprisoned the Scaffold for Life..!!
The scaffold where the executions were held is also exhibited in Ulucanlar Prison Museum. The scaffold that hung 18 people is placed at the back of the tree called "Ulu Kavak" (Large Aspen) in front of which it was usually placed. The scaffold is placed in an iron bar cell in order to emphasize the fact that death sentence was abandoned in 2004 in Turkey and there is also a text stating that this penalty is no longer applied. Mayor Veysel Tiryaki said that they found the scaffold at the roof during restoration and stated that they tried to stay true to all details from the halter to the color of the gallows and that they only applied protective varnish. Another tree attracts the attention in the museum where the photos, documents and information of the famous people who stayed in Ulucanlar Prison. The tree located right beside the aspen tree, in front of which the executions are carried out, is arranged as a memorial tree for the arrestees with small aluminum plates with the photos and names of the famous people who stayed here.
ersonal belongings of the famous prisoners are also on display at the museum
6th ward is furnished as the ward containing the information, documents and belongings of the famous persons who stayed in Ulucanlar. Photos and biographies of these persons are placed at the bedhead of each bunk bed. Belongings of the journalists, writers, poets, politicians and artists who stayed in Ulucanlar Prison at different times are also displayed at the same ward. Personal belongings such as Bülent Ecevit’s hat and tie, Deniz Gezmiş’s Roman Law lecture notes in his own hand writing, his cigarettes and money from his pocket, Yusuf Aslan's scarf, Hüseyin İnan's flannel, Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu’s prayer cap and rug, Mustafa Arıkan’s letter to his brother and clothes of Fikri Arıkan are placed in this ward.