Observe Hittite's Capital Hattusha With a Tour to the Lost Empire

Hidden in what appears to be the furthest reaches of a vast and arid region in Central Anatolia and some 150km east of Ankara in Central Anatolia, you will find the archaeological revelation that is Hattusha. Take a city tour of Hattusha and see this unrivalled archaeological site, listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO covering an area of 2.1 by 1.3km. It was enclosed by a series of defensive walls with a total length of over 8km and its ruins are all that remains of what once was the beating heart of the vast and mighty Hittite Empire, which vanished from history around 1200 BC, after been in existence for about 500 years. In its prime, the empire occupied a large territory, especially in what is now Eastern and Central Turkey. It was one of the great powers of its time, fighting as an equal against the army of the Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II to the South, while the Babylonians and Assyrians challenged its eastern borders. At that time, Hattusha itself must have had a large population estimated near 40,000.  Read More...

Observe Hittite's Capital Hattusha With a Tour to the Lost Empire

Referred to in the Bible for its fearsome warriors, this civilisation lay undiscovered until the middle of the 19th century. Evidence of this lost nation started to emerge as a few archaeologists travelled on horseback through the uncharted regions of the Ottoman Empire. Visitors on a private daily Hattusha tour approach the city from the northern side, following the road from the village of Boğazköy. This area is referred to as the ‘Lower City’ and consisted of a large temple complex, dedicated to the weather and sun deities, as well as a residential settlement. This ‘Lower City’, is known as being the oldest part of the Hittite city and was founded by king Hattusili I around 1650 BC. Strong walls of mudbrick protected it on a stone foundation, a section of which has been reconstructed for both research and tourism. Recent excavations show that the area was previously settled by people referred to as Hattus (or Hattians).

As one climbs ever upwards and southwards on cultural tours to Hattusha, one reaches the ‘Upper City’ Originally they stood 8 to 10m in height, incorporated towers at 20m intervals, and were pierced by gateways, embellished with a monumental relief sculpture and known as the Lion’s Gate, the Sphinx Gate and the King’s Gates. Visitors exploring the temple remains on Hattusha tours began to realise that these complex establishments also served more than a purely religious function but simultaneously acting as administrative and economic centres and industrial hubs for the different workshops and ‘offices’ surrounding these buildings. The Hittites happily mixed their social duties with more everyday activities. At the highest and southernmost point of Hattusha, is the Yerkapı fortification, with the remains of the Sphinx Gate perched on a human-made promontory. The most impressive and mysterious thing here is the Yerkapı tunnel at 83m long and leads from the bottom of the high rampart into the heart of the city.

Despite the number of temples in the confines of this ancient city tour of hattusha, the Hittite capital’s greatest sanctuary is found a 30 minutes’ walk to the northeast at the place known now in Turkish as Yazılıkaya (‘Inscribed Bedrock’). Visitors approaching that site on a guided tour of Hattusha look up towards an impressive complex carved out of natural rock from behind the pine trees that surround the site. If you climb further, the majesty of this ancient sacred site becomes increasingly apparent. The complex comprises of two rock chambers and enclosed by natural limestone rock faces up to 12m in height. A freshwater spring once flowed here, and it has been said that it had been a place of worship over many generations before the rise of the Hittite Empire. Fast forward two centuries as the ‘Upper City’ was being developed, elaborate scenes in carved relief were engraved into the chamber walls.

Let the Hattusha activities begin!

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