Thanks to its location in the centre of the country, Ankara has been a historical junction of major trade routes and a crossroads of migratory streams. Throughout history, Ankara has witnessed battles between powerful armies in quest of domination. The city was an important cultural, trading and arts centre in Roman times and a major trading centre on the caravan route to the east in Ottoman times. However, it had lost importance by the 19th century. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk chose Ankara as the base from which to direct the War of Independence, it once again became an important centre. By consequence of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared the capital of the new Republic of Turkey on October 13, 1923. Ankara, known until that time for its rabbits, cats and goats, became the geographic, political and administrative centre of Turkey, with all the government offices and foreign embassies transferred from Istanbul. It was no longer the modest Ankara of artisans and small tradesmen, but a city hosting politicians, government officials and foreign diplomats. The first buildings to alter the skyline of Ankara were the Museums of Ethnography and of Painting and Sculpture. They no longer stand alone and today Ankara counts a number of skyscrapers, large shopping centres, five-star hotels and bank headquarters. Ankara had been used as a settlement area continuously during the Phrygian, Galatian, Roman and Byzantine periods, and Alexander the Great was one of the most famous people that the city hosted.