The Hittites were one of Turkey’s most ancient civilizations and traces of their mighty empire can still be found around Ankara. After admiring the most impressive archaeological treasures from the Hittite era, on display at Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, add these ancient Hittite sites to your itinerary.
Turkey’s most important Hittite site is the former capital of the Hittite empire and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hattuşa, founded around 1375 BC, was once a massive walled city. Today, the ruins of Hattuşa only hint at its former grandeur, with highlights including the Great Temple (Büyük Mabet), Great Castle (Büyük Kale), Sphinx Gate, and a 230-feet-long (70 meter) 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 remains of a palace made up of huge interlocking stones and an impressive bazaar area.
Also close to Hattuşa is Yazilikaya, an open-air natural rock shrine, whose walls feature carvings of gods from the Hittite pantheon. Nearby lie 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 carvings here are copies of originals, now in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.
Just 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 cuneiform tablets found here in Kayseri’s Archaeological Museum.