Armchair Traveler: Bogazkale (Turkey)

 
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More than 3,600 years ago, the mighty Hittite Empire ruled the Western Asian land of Anatolia. Its capital, Hattusa, flourished for around 500 years in what is now central Turkey. Today, the ruins of Hattusa attract the curious from around the world. The closest town is tiny Bogazkale, about 200 km east of Ankara. It’s a handy place to stay for a night before a long day or two of exploring. The first thing you’ll see as you come closer to Hattusa are reconstructions of its outer walls. More reconstructions inside the ruins help to give you a better idea of what the Hittite capital looked like before the march of time did its damage. The site is so large that you’ll need a car to take it all in — and even then, you can’t possibly see the whole thing in a single day. Hire an experienced guide to help make the ruins come alive for you. One of the highlights is the Lion Gate. These inner and outer gates have impressive lion statues — partly reconstructed — and once held massive wooden doors. One sight you shouldn’t miss is a giant green cube, which locals call the “wish stone.” Archaeologists still don’t know how it got there and what it meant to the ancient Hittites. Make sure to head to Yazilikaya, a religious sanctuary in the ancient city. It’s been called the Sistine Chapel of Hittite art, and features startling rock reliefs. Finally, drive north to Alaca Hoyuk to see its Sphinx Gate and stone-walled tombs. As with Hattusa, there are many things we still don’t know about these artifacts. But that’s part of the charm. (T) This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

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