It is in March 2021 and we are on the road from istanbul to Corum, to Sapinuva and to Alacahoyuk On the traces of the Hittite Empire , Corum and Alacahöyük- Turkey ( Anatolia ) -1- – it is a route on the traces of the old Hittite Empire and today we will continue our drive actually to the most important part of our trip that is Hattusa , which was 4000 years ago the Capital city of the Empire with in total 100.000 inhabitants while today it is a little Anatolian town with 3700 inhabitants .
The Hittites were living from 2000 Bc to 1200 BC .
It is not really clear of where the roots of the Hittite is from – part of the historian assume that they were coming from the Caucasus to Anatolia , others assume that they were folks already living in Mesopotamia .
The empire was built in Hattusa and was later covering huge parts of Turkey , starting in the West at the Aegean Coast and extending till the Euphrat river in the East till Damascus and going down till Lebanon to the Egyptian borderline .
They were a group of Indo – Europeans and one of the first folks speaking the Indo-European language which was later the base of lots of European languages in later days .
The Hittites were also the first civilizations transforming pictorescal scripture to cuneiform scripture .About 30.000 tablets with cuneiform scripts were found during the years in the Hittite settlements which give a lot of insight into the social life , the history and the governmental structure in those days.
On the other hand they were also the first civilization having a written peace treaty.It is the Kadesh Peace Treaty being also presented in the UN Building in New York as it is of a high historical importance .The treaty was made between the Hittite King Hattusili III signed by the Hittite Queen Pudehepa and the Egyptian Pharao Ramses II.
The Kadesh Peace Treaty is also written on a cuneiform tablet .
On this day we are very excited to enter this precious archeological site as I was looking forward to explore the Hittites since quite some time . Our visit to Corum , Sapinuva and Alacahoyuk gave us some incredible insight into this phantastic architecture and city planning of them.The museums have been great and presenting lots of historical gems already but to be at the heart of the Kingdom will be overwhelming I know .
In the night it started snowing and I am just trying to imagine how Hattusa will look like under the snow .Due to the pandemic and the season there is nobody then us as a visitor around .
It will be a huge privilege to visit the site under snow and just alone !What a luxury .I just do hope that there will be no snowstorm as this might make it difficult to look around .
In the morning we meet our private guide – a nice local guy from Bogazkale village who was and is part of the excavation team here in Hattusa .
He is more then happy to show us around and for sure he knows each and every corner of this very huge site .
While we drive to the entrance unfortunately due to the snow and the iced road we have a difficulty to move forward .
But since I am firmly clear to do the visit we decide to do the whole tour as a walk tour which means that we need to walk a distance of 10 km in snow that is about 20 cm high but it is absolutely ok .
The site has an upper city and a lower city .Hattusa was actually the heart of the Empire where the King was living and ruling the whole country .
We have to climb up the snowy slopes as the upper part of the city is at 1200 m .
The environment is gorgeous . We can see a very long distance 360 degrees from the hills .The upper city has a very important logistic place as the army could recognize the enemy 3 days in advance due to the view that they canhave from this location .
It was an important strategic point as they could prepare them within these 3 days to defend the city .
The first stop at the upper city is the Lion Gate .
This is one of the entrance gates to the city .
Since Hattusa is on the Silk Road , caravans with their camels and horses were arriving at this gate when coming from the East , were controlled by the guards and allowed to enter Hattusa .They were then moving to the inner part of the city to Ambarlikaya where in a rock all the food was stored .The inner city had a population of 35.000 people and in the storage they always had food for 40.000 people in case of any emergency could occur whether it was a war case or a natural catastrophy .
Here the caravans were deloading their goods and taking their rests.
I am just standing at the Lion Gate at the outer side of the city wall and can see the road where the caravans were arriving .Unbelievable as it looks so realistic as if this historical path was just used by today .You dont have the feeling that it is 4000 years ago that these paths were really used by those folks.
We move further upwards,it is snowing but the sun is also shining .The view of Hattusa in the virgin snow is really breathtaking .
The road is steep .At our left hand side we can see the temple district .
Due to the huge pantheon of the gods – they were worhshipping 1000 gods , the temples were also very important in the Hittite culture .
To give food or sacrifice animals to calm down the gods of nature , to guarantee a good harvest was always key in their social lifes and to be purified and cleaned by theirs sins in the water bassins in the temples similar as it was later the same in the Judaism , the Christianity or in the Islam .
There have been lots of occasions for celebrations :
The festival of Spring , the Festival of Autumn , the Winter Festival , the Wineyards Festival , the Festival of Rain , the Festival of Thunder , the Festival of PLowing Soil and many others .
The next station on our walk is the Yerkapi Rampart .
The artificial ridge of the fortification and the highest point is marked by Yerkapi. Here we take a walk through the postern tunnel which has a very special architecture .It is about 70 m long and 3-3.5 m high .
The stones are here linked to each other like a puzzle .
Once you would try to move a stone out , the whole tunnel would break down .It should be a kind of a defend system . The tunnel leads you directly to the gate of the Sphinx where you need to turn left .The original sphinx sculptures were once brought to Germany when the city was first discovered and displayed at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin but nearly 100 years later in 2011 the originals returned home and are now presented in the little local Museum of Bogazkale .
The gates of the sphinx and their special locations tell us that this gate was not an ordinary one .
For sure it had a special function in the ancient Empire .
The sphinx look like the outside of a shrine and probably these elaborate gates with the sphinx was opened just for special occassions and the rampart might have been use as a gigantic stage for some performance .
Then you walk outside the citywall along the rampart .The structure is like a pyramid from outside .
84 steps will take you to the upper wall .For sure it is quite artistic to take the snowy steps without falling down – you just need to be utmost careful .
On the top of the wall you need to take some steps down again to arrive at Yerkapi again .
We just move forward to our next stop which is the Kings Gate .
A warrior with a helmet with a horn and with a short sword is shown on a huge stone over here – again the original is in the Ancient Civilizations Museum in Ankara .It is not 100% clear of who this person is -whether he is one of the Hittite kings or maybe representing a deity .For sure this gate was also used for special occasions maybe for some special cultic processions .
While we walk up the hills we again and again have a view to the extremely huge environment . What a panorama !What a great location !
Slowly we also get tired as at some parts of our walk it is snowing and there is an icy , cold wind .
After the Kings gate we begin to walk down the slopes on the other side of the city . Here we stop by at the Nisantepe .Here we can see a huge rock with long inscriptions .Due to the climate influences unfortunately the inscriptions are not that clear any more .It is said that these inscriptions are Luwian hieroglyphics.
Lastly we arrive at the royal complex of Hattusa , the place where the King was living with his family . Today it is called Buyukkale which means Big Castle .Today tehre are stairs to get to the plateau of the royal complex but in the ancient times it was a kind of ramp that you needed to walk up to get to the site .This plateau is about 250x 140 m big and today there are just some ruins of the placae , its several gates , its pool .
The royal family had his private living space over here with a view down to the big temple at the lower city.There was also a huge building where it is assumed that it had administrational functions.
We decide to finalize our walking tour here as we walked about 10 km already – there are still so many locations to see and to visit at this upper city but this needs to be done on another day.
As time is short we also take a short break at the lower city .
Here we can also see the temple structures of the city and the great urban planning and architecture of the site .
Right at the entrance the lions bassin is stunning .It is a place where people cleaned themselves before they entered the city .
Another very important part of our daily trip for sure is the Hittite Rock Sanctuary of Yazilikaya which is just close by , about 2 km from Hattusa .Normally in spring or summer people also walk from Hattusa to the sanctuary .
This place actually was a place where the New Year ie the Beginning of the Spring celebrations were held .
We enter this sanctuary via steps and arrive at a place with an altar .
Inside the sanctuary are 2 chambers with carvings of gods on the rocks .
In the first chamber there are male gods on one side and female gods on the other side .The male gods have short skirts , high pointed hats and shoes that are curling up at the toe . This is how you can recognize them .Some of the gods have beards ,some of the have wings like the Moon God or the God of the Heavens .
The female gods have long skirts , curly shoes and headdresses as well .
At the end of the chamber there are the portrays of 2 supreme gods which are the Weather or Storm God Teshup and the Sun Goddess Hebat .
The gods are standing on other smaller mountain gods , the double headed eagle and on the shoulders of a wild cat .
In the second chamber there are the 12 Gods of the Underworld carved into the rock .
A little further there is the God Sharumma with King Tuthaliya IV under his arm .
Few steps further there is a portray of the Sword God or the God of Nergal of the Underworld with 2 lion heads at his side and 3 niches where probably offerings during the celebrations have been placed .
The sanctuary is an amazing and very special place !!!
We leave the sanctuary being so much impressed and felt the very special energy that it is still spreading .
Last but not least we will shortly visit the small museum of bogazkale as well as we definitely need to see the original sphinx sculptures .
There are very nice pieces in the museum where I will just show very few of them .
We leave Hattusa and its endless treasures , secrets and beauties behind .
It was a gorgeous , extraordinary day -I was dreaming of visiting Hattusa one day and to follow the traces of this majestic 4000 year old empire of the ancient world and I got a very special chance to see it in its snowwhite dress – just for myself – being the one and only visitor on such a white day and to have the chance to breathe the great culture !!!
For me it is for sure that very soon I will use the chance to see the site in spring or summer time again and to look into all the historical parts that we missed out for this time .
We also have won some good friends in Bogazkale which is the hotel owner of our hotel Mr Cengiz who also played the role of a Hittite King in a BBC documentary and our guide Mr Davut who will continue with the team to do the excavations in the next years .
I do hope that there will be a lot of great treasures found and enlighten mankind of this wonderful ancient Anatolian Civilization !