Hattusha (also known as Hattusa or Hattuşa) is one of Turkey’s great ruins of capitals of the Hittite Empire and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Hittite Empire reached its peak in the second millennium BC, most prominently in the thirteenth century BC, at which time much of Asia Minor was under their control. Existing at the same time as the Ancient Egyptian civillisation, evidence from Hattusha has shown a peace treaty having been signed between Hittite leader Hattushili III and Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II (the Great).
Hattusha was founded in around 1600 BC and, despite the fact that it was conquered and mostly destroyed after 1200 BC, the remains of this great imperial capital are well preserved. From ornate gateways such as the Lion’s Gate, and temples to royal homes and ancient fortifications complete with underground passageways, there is much to see at Hattusha.
Much of the site was excavated by German archaeologists in 1906, a subject of some controversy in more recent times due to the non-return of a sphinx from the site (this can now be seen at the Pergamon Museum, Berlin).
The city is split into an upper and lower level, the latter containing the site of the Great Temple, one of the highlights of Hattusha and believed to have been dedicated to the deities of storms and the sun. Another highlight is the Yerkapi ramparts, a vast stone structure.
Not far from Hattusha, around 2km away, one can see the incredible Yazillkaya Sanctuary, a rock temple which still contains evidence of the artistry for which the city was renowned, including depictions of various deities and reliefs of humans and animals.