Ancient Hittite Capital (Hattuşa Ören Yeri) in Bogazkale, Turkey with Kids

Aslanlı Kapı/Lion’s Gate

Hattuşa Ören Yeri (Hattuşa Archaeological Site/Ruins) is the ancient Hittite capital site in Bogazkale, Turkey about 2.5 east of Ankara. It’s easy to do as a long day trip from Ankara, or it’s mostly on the route to some of the Black Sea towns like Samsun and Trabzon.

Hattuşa was the capital of the Hittites during the Bronze Age from 1650-1200 BC. It originally had 6 km long city walls, covered 180-hectares of land, and had monumental gateways. The Hittites ruled a wide range and dominated many people from different communities and religious and cultural backgrounds.

First Stop at Hattuşa–a temple area

Hattuşa is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. From their site:

“Hattusha is an archaeological site remarkable for its urban organization, the types of construction and rich ornamentation that have been preserved and for the ensemble of rock art. 

Criterion (i): The city’s fortifications, along with the Lions’ Gate, the Royal Gate and the Yazılıkaya rupestral ensemble and its sculptured friezes, represent unique artistic achievements.

Criterion (ii): Hattusha exerted a dominating influence upon the civilizations of the 2nd and 1st millennia B.C. in Anatolia and northern Syria.

Criterion (iii): The palaces, temples, trading quarters and necropolis of this political and religious metropolis provide a comprehensive picture of a Hittite capital and bear a unique testimony to the now extinct Hittite civilization.

Criterion (iv): Several types of buildings or architectural ensembles are perfectly preserved in Hattusha: the royal residence, the temples and the fortifications. “

Bogazkale Museum

The hieroglyphics here aren’t related to the Egyptian ones

Our first stop as in town at the Bogazkale Museum. We were the only ones visiting! Our MuseKart got us into the museums, but otherwise it is just 10 tl (less than $2). It is small and our entire time there, including a bathroom break, was 30 minutes. But the artifacts are all from the nearby region and they have great signage in English and Turkish, so it is worth a stop.

It has two floors, with a flight of stairs up. There is a special machine for moving wheelchairs up the stairs. Bathrooms were fine, with squat and Western toilet options. There was plenty of street parking.

Five Facts We Learned at the Museum

*Luwian hieroglyphs were developed in the Anatolian region, have no relation to Egyptian hieroglyphics, and are greatly understood.

*Hittites used chariots in battle for a faster attack.

*Ramses II of Egypt and Hattusili III of the Hittites signed a peace treaty that is “the world’s earliest known intergovernmental act founded on the principle of equality” (sign in the museum)

*This site was discovered in 1834 by a French architect.

*The Hittites did significant mining

Hattuşa Ören Yeri: The Archaeological Site

From the museum, we drove just a few minutes to the entrance of the archaeological site. Stopped at the parking lot and showed our MuseKart for admission (you could also buy a ticket if needed). There are bathrooms and a museum shop (which we stopped at on our return).

The drive through the site is a giant loop, most of it one way. At significant sites, there are either small parking lots or street parking available. You park, explore for as long as you want, then get back in your car and continue the loop.

Some of the sites had several cars (particularly the first stop), but then we ended up at most sites alone. The loop is only about 3.3 miles (5.2 km) according to GoogleMaps, but most people drive it. You could walk though if desired. It was really convenient keeping everything in our car and only exploring around with my camera and a water bottle.

Some stops were very spread out with lots of rocks to climb on and things to explore. Some stops were just the remains of a gate or wall. The kids really liked scrambling the rocks and getting “supey high” as DS4 says.

After a stop at bathrooms and the bookstore (very cute, good range of books and gifts), we drove about 15 min down the road to Yazılıkkaya. Yazılıkkaya is a temple and shrine location with carvings into the rock. Not a very big site, but free and interesting to see. There was a small cafe where we bought ice cream cones afterwards before driving home.

Overall, we were in Bogazkale from 10:30-3. We ate a picnic lunch in the car (yellow jackets were too annoying to eat outside). From Ankara, we were gone from 8-5:30, making for a doable day trip.

Practical Information

How to Reach: We drove from Ankara. It is an easy 2.5 hour drive. Once at the site, it is easiest to drive the loop.

Museum: Bogazkale Museum is worth a stop. It only takes 30 minutes and is free with MuseKart or only 10tl without. During Covid, the posted hours are 10-7 for the summer. NonCovid, hours were 8-7 in summer and 8-5 for winter. Bathrooms were nice and had soap and tp. They had squat and Western options. Easy street parking in front. Two floors. Has a wheelchair transporter for the stairs, but no elevator for strollers.

Archaeological Site: Stop at the ticket office upon entering the loop. Has bathrooms and a nice gift shop. Free with MuseKart. Drive the loop, stop at each site and park and explore. Bring food or snacks. No cafe at the site.

Yazılıkkaya: Nice parking lot. Free entry. Doesn’t take long to visit. Has a cafe. I believe I saw bathrooms.

Kid Details: This is a very kid friendly site. They can run and climb around. Kids who aren’t stable walkers might struggle and benefit from a hiking carrier for some of the sites. Some stops are flat level ground and some are very rocky. Good shoes with traction are helpful for the rockier spots, especially if they want to climb the rocks. It is full sun for the most part and was pretty windy when we were there. We were thankful for our sun hats, and also for the straps that went under the chin! Bring sunblock and snacks and a picnic. Mid August the yellow jackets were a huge pain and our attempt at a picnic outside was aborted and moved into the car so we could eat in peace.

This is a drawing of the hieroglyphs seen in the picture above it
Yazılıkkaya, the temple site nearby
Rock carvings at Yazılıkkaya

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