The Yazılıkaya Rock Sanctuary is the largest known Hittite open-air religious site. Its main parts are two galleries located in rocky corridors. They were once separated from the outside world by a complex of temple buildings, of which only the foundations and the outline of the walls have survived to this day.
Yazılıkaya was in 1986, together with Hattusa, entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Religious celebrations in honour of the main deities of Hittites - Teshub and Hebat - took place under the roof of the Great Temple in the area of Hattusa. In Yazılıkaya, however, all gods were worshipped in the open air. In total, there are as many as 83 portraits, most of them in Gallery A.
Yazılıkaya, meaning 'written stone' in Turkish, served as a place for religious celebrations, celebrating, for example, the coming of the new year every spring. The larger gallery, called chamber A, is decorated with deities from the Hurrian pantheon carved into the rock walls. The names of the gods were written in Luwian hieroglyphs above their heads. The main scene depicts the storm god Teshub and the sun goddess Hebat.
However, the largest relief is the image of the Hittite king Tudhaliya IV, during whose reign at the end of the 13th century BCE the Yazılıkaya sanctuary was established.
A narrow passage between the rocks leads to the smaller Gallery B. Before entering, it is said that you must ask for permission from the winged, lion-headed demon guarding the entrance.
This chamber most likely served as a chapel commemorating King Tudhaliya IV, which was dedicated to him by his son - Suppiluliuma II. The rock reliefs preserved in this gallery are generally in better condition than the reliefs from Gallery A. This is due to their long-term burial under a layer of earth.
Here you can see a relief depicting a procession of twelve gods of the underworld, similar to the relief from the larger gallery. On the opposite wall there is an interesting relief in the shape of a sword, the hilt of which is formed by the silhouettes of four lions. The handle ends with a pommel in the shape of a deity's head. It probably belongs to Nergal - the god of the underworld.
On the left side of this relief there is a portrait of the Hittite king Tudhaliya IV in the arms of the god Sharruma, the son of Teshub, the ruler's personal guardian. Niches carved in the walls of the chamber may have served as a place to place gifts.
The reliefs in both galleries are clearly visible in clear air during the noon hours, between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., when the sun illuminates the walls of the sanctuary at the right angle.
Opening hours: from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ticket price in 2023 was 50 TL - this is the same ticket that you buy before entering Hattusa, so keep it.
By car - following the route from Ankara to the east, in towards Çorum, turn right (southeast) about 180 kilometres after Ankara, heading for Yozgat. Driving further, after 25 kilometers you reach Boğazkale.
By public transport - take a coach from Ankara to Sungurlu and then a minibus from Sungurlu to Boğazkale. On weekends, it may turn out that the only means of transport from Sungurlu is a taxi.
The distance from the centre of Boğazkale to Yazılıkaya is approximately 2 km towards the east.