Don’t expect something on the scale of Turkey’s ancient Roman cities such as those at Ephesus, however. The Hittite sites around Anatolia are far older, with little remaining besides a few carvings and the foundations of once-great buildings.
Besides these sites, one of the best places to see artifacts from the ancient Hittites is Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, where you can explore treasure found at these sites and more.
Arguably the most important Hittite site in Turkey, Hattuşa, founded around 1375 BC, was once the massive, walled city at the heart of the Hittite empire. Unfortunately it’s a little hard for non-archaeologists to appreciate Hattuşa’ former grandeur, as only the foundations of its buildings remain, though this has been somewhat improved by the recreation of some towers and section of the city’s wall.
The highlights here include the Büyük Mabet (Great Temple), the Büyük Kale (Great Castle), the Sphinx Gate and a 70-meter-long tunnel burrowed beneath the walls.
Şapinuva, located within walking distance of Hattuşa, is a smaller Hittite site that served as capital of the empire for a short period. Here you’ll find the remains of a palace made up of huge interlocking stones and an impressive bazaar area.
1.5 miles from Hattuşa lies a double ravine whose walls feature carvings of gods of from the Hittite pantheon. The real attraction is these images, though you can also explore the scant remains of a temple dating back to the 13th century BC.
Alaca Höyük is trumpeted by those in the tourism business as another Hittite site, but in truth it is an even older Hatti settlement. Excavations in Alaca Höyük have uncovered 13 tombs that belonged to Hatti kings, but much of what you see, such as the vast gate guarded by huge stone sphinxes, comes from the Hittites. Many of the carvings here are copies of the originals, which are now in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.
Four miles north of Kayseri, the Kaniş area of Kültepe, once known as Nesa, was the first Hittite capital. It’s hard to imagine the huge palace that once dominated the city, as almost nothing remains, but you can see some of the cuneiform tablets that were found here in Kayseri’s Archaeological Museum.
Two miles east of Malatya lies the Hittite site of Aslantepe, home to a palace complex dating back some 6,000 years. Some Hittite wall paintings have been discovered here, and excavations at the site are ongoing. It’s best to visit during the summer digging season, when archaeologists might be on hand to explain things.
Not far from Gaziantep, in Yesemek you’ll find the remains of a Hittite quarry, believed to have been used during the height of the empire, as well as during a later neo-Hittite period. Around 300 half-completed artifacts stand abandoned in the surrounding hills.
The best Hittite site for tourists is probably Karatepe, near Osmaniye. Here you’ll find the remains of Aslantaş, known in Hittite times as ‘Azatiwadya’, which was founded in the 8th century BC. The beauty and tranquility of the site alone are worth the trip.