Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley

Location: 

GPS coordinates: 39.105499, 30.429701

One of the most impressive free-standing monuments in the Phrygian Valley is the so-called Aslankaya i.e. the Lion's Rock. This religious sanctuary from the mid-sixth century BC was dedicated to the goddess Cybele, one of the most prominent figures of the Phrygian pantheon. Aslankaya owes its discovery to the Western world to William M. Ramsey, a Scottish archaeologist. He found this place and thoroughly described it in 1884. In 1997, another study of Aslankaya was conducted by T. Tüfekçi-Sivas.

Aslankaya got its name because of the reliefs depicting two lions. They were carved in characteristic, alone standing rock of volcanic origin, measuring 15 meters in height. At its southeast wall, there is a wonderful carved façade with a height of over 7 meters and a width of 6.6 meters. It rises 2.75 meters above ground level. The façade has a form resembling an entrance to the temple with a triangular pediment. The whole monument communicates a sense of depth and lightness, despite its monumental size. The pediment is decorated with bas-relief figures of two sphinxes. The monument also has a one-line inscription in Paleo-Phrygian language.

The surface of the rock surrounding the niche is decorated with geometric patterns. The central niche, in the central part of the façade, is the most important part of the monument. It is surrounded by two frames and has a size of 2.4 to 1.8 meters. The researchers speculate that once the niche could be enclosed with double doors. A statue of the goddess Cybele, surrounded by two lions facing each other, used to stand in the niche. The goddess was represented in the form of convex relief. She was facing the faithful, and on her head she was wearing so-called polos i.e. a high cylindrical headdress that reached to the ceiling of the niche.

The lions, presented in the form of a flat relief, are standing on their hind legs, and their paws once touched the statue of the goddess Cybele. Lions' heads are now severely damaged, but the outline of their bodies is clearly visible. On the rock walls on both sides of the façade, there are additional decorations. On the right side, there is a large low relief of a lion standing on its hind legs, and on the left side - a mythical griffin.

Aslankaya is particularly important for researchers as a unique Phrygian sanctuary in the form of a niche with a very richly decorated facade. Unfortunately, this monument is in no way protected from destruction. Its degradation is due to weather conditions and treasure hunters. Their actions have left traces in the form of drilled holes in the rock where they used to place explosives. Moreover, in 1993, the explosion damaged the niche and the right side of the façade, and in 1994 the statue of the goddess Cybele was destroyed by vandals using pickaxes. Currently, we can only see this statue in old photographs.

Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley

Getting there: 

Aslankaya is located on the western shore of Emre Lake. It is 5 km away from the nearest town - Döğer.

To reach Aslankaya, drive first to Döğer, and then head in the eastern direction, along the road leading to Emre Lake. In the center of Döğer, there are appropriate signposts. After driving 4 km, just before reaching the lake, turn into a side road leading to the south. After about 1 km you get to the intersection, where Aslankaya is located.

While visiting Aslankaya, it is worthwhile to make a stop on the shores of Emre Lake, to see the former seat of the dervish brotherhood called Emre Tekke. Additionally, on the north-eastern side of the lake, there is a rock formation called the Stony Place of Forty Steps (tr. Kırkmerdiven Kayalıkları). Unusual rock formations also stretch along the road to the west of Aslankaya.

Image gallery: 

Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley
Aslankaya from the Phrygian Valley