World Heritage Site – Hattuşa

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Turkish woman collecting wild spinach within the ruins of Hattusa.
Turkish woman collecting wild spinach within the ruins of Hattusa.

We took a driving trip to Hattuşa to visit the ancient capital of the Hittites. I never expected to have so much rain during the Turkish springtime. When we arrived last September everything was brown, brown, brown, and it stayed that way for a long time. The forecast was again for rain, but we woke up to a bright day and decided to risk it. We were glad we did. The entire drive was a beautiful bright green, and we saw a number of storks along the way.

There are three main locations that Hittite ruins can be visited, and we were able to go to two before the rain started coming down. The ancient capital was called Hattuşa, but it is in modern day Boğazkale. There is one driving path to follow. Visiting the largest site first, we visited an ancient temple, along with a number of smaller areas. Many of the carvings and statues have been removed to museums, but we enjoyed the Lion Gate, the tunnel near the Sphinx’ gate, and the hieroglyphs found in some of the buildings.

Even though I like to visit the important sites, and hit the World Heritage sites, one the my favorite parts of traveling is meeting the local people. As we pulled up to Boğazkale, there were many woman gathering some type of, well, weed. The great thing about Turkey is, the locals are allowed to go about their daily life everywhere-  including within World Heritage Sites, too. We chatted with a man and his wife, and they told everyone was collecting a type of wild spinach and all three of the women there had a full cotton sling full of the tiny shoots. They were patient with me and my limited Turkish, and very willing to share and have their photos taken.

At a second site, up the road about 3 kilometers, was Yazılıkaya, which although small was very impressive. It was an outdoor church and there were a number of rock carving portraits of gods, the king and queen, etc. Very cool.

Hattuşa was probably the cheapest UNESCO World Heritage site I’ve visited. It cost 9 tl (about $6.50) for both Hattuşa and Yazılıkaya. Again, this is spring, and it might be more during the high season. There were a couple of tour buses there, but they were easy to avoid. At Hattuşa, there were touts walking around trying to push their soapstone carvings to the tourists, but I would suggest waiting until you do the Yazilkaya portion, where there are stands set up and you will probably have more bargaining power with the competition.

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