Enclosed by 6km walls, Hattuşa was, by the standards of the time, an immense city, and its scale is still awe-inspiring today. The site was originally occupied by the Hatti, who established a settlement here around 2500 BC. The Hittites moved in after their conquest of central Anatolia, making it their capital from about 1375 BC onwards, during the period when their empire reached its greatest extent.
The Hittite city was unearthed by archeologists during the first half of the nineteenth century. It occupies a steeply sloping expanse dotted with rocky outcrops, to the southwest of modern Boğazkale. Of the numerous buildings once scattered over a wide area, only the limestone foundation blocks survive. The vulnerable upper parts, originally consisting of timber frames supporting clay brick walls, have long since vanished.
Approaching the site from the village square takes you past a freshly reconstructed section of the old city wall (paid for with Japanese money) and leads to a ticket office. This office is left unmanned at night, which some find the most atmospheric time to visit Hattuşa – there are no touts or tour buses, and Boğazkale’s sleepy constellation provides just about enough light to get around without a torch.