A historic marvel in central Turkey

Turkey is an ancient land where some of the earliest civilizations flourished. Anatolia is what Asian Turkey is called. It is a massive peninsula surrounded with Black Sea in the north, Marmara Sea and Aegean Sea in the west and Mediterranean in the south. Central Turkey is a plateau that surrounded by two range of mountains, Black Sea Mountains in the north and Taurus Mountains in the south. While most tourists visit Istanbul and coastal areas along with Cappadocia, this part of Turkey has its own treasures. It is not spoiled by tourism and remains largely unknown to main stream tourism. Hattusa is one the most amazing site in central Turkey and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 located in the province of Çorum in modern day town of Bogazkoy about 2 hours driving north from Ankara. Hattusa was the capital city of Hittite Empire who dominated Asia Minor in the late bronze age in between 1750 BCE and 1200 BCE.

 

I first visited Hattusa in 1994 when I was studying in Cappadocia at University. It is also a short 2 hours journey from Cappadocia. I was amazed with all these rock carvings and hieroglyphics and was eager to know what they meant. In later years I have visited Hattusa many times as a tour guide and always enjoyed visiting and reading about this marvel in middle of Turkish moorland. The site used to be surrounded with 6 km of strong walls built on the top of manmade ramps. Best way to tour Hattusa is simply following ancient walls in a circle as all the interesting remains and sites doted along the walls.

After getting your entry tickets and entering into the site you will first see the remains of great Temple with its massive foundation where Hittites worshipped their thousand gods. The temple must have been a real treasure to Archeologist as they have yielded so much information from the relics found at the great temple including clay tablets written in cuneiform. Hittite religion was complex and influenced by previous civilizations and highly syncretic.

Later continue to the right following ancient walls you will see the Lions Gate on the right half way to the top of the hill above. This was one of the main gate to the city and it seems ancient Hittites loved the idea of protecting their gate by two lions on each side of the door. The lions are the early example of sculpturing and finest example of Hittite art.

 

Further at the top of the hill is the architectural masterpiece of Hittites. The entire hill is manmade from almost the modern road to the top. Through the hill is Hittites divine underground tunnel. Also manmade, this tunnel probably was used for rituals or simply for easy access and exit into or out of the city. The tunnel is built with massive block stones in cyclopean style with a row of keystone in the middle in triangle shape.

 

Some half way down the hill you should also see the Hieroglyphic chamber where the last Hittite King Suppiluliuma II depicted as a warrior god. Next place is the inner castle known as Büyükkale in Turkish where administrative buildings and palaces were. It was here where the great Hittite archive room with over two thousand cuneiform clay tablets unearthed giving us access to the entire Hittite history.

 

Not far from ancient site of Hattusa is the national sanctuary of the Hittite Empire, today known as Yazılıkaya. This place is 2 km to the north east and is well worth a visit. This sanctuary is made of 3 parts, a gate house where you can see the foundation only and two natural rock galleries where Hittite Pantheon is carved in hierarchical order. This is the oldest recorded Pantheon in Turkey. I would advise to visit Yazılıkaya in the morning as it gets direct sunlight between 11 AM and 1 PM. After this time they are not distinctly visible.

 

In modern days Hattusa and the ancient land of Hittites is slowly becoming attracted to trekkers and bikers after a project called Hitit Yolu (Hittite Road) introduced by the Governorate of Corum  with 236 km of marked route.

 

Referrences:

Ancient Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey  – May, 1989 by Ekrem Akurgal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suppiluliuma_II

http://www.hitityolu.com/index.php