Gavurkale: Forgotten Hittite Ruins in Ankara

Gavurkale is an old Hittite castle monument dates back to 14th century B.C Great Hittite Empire period. 2 well-preserved rock carvings of human figures and an eroded carving of a sitting child on the crest of a hill are the most notable features of Gavurkale. This significant landmark is located at a remote village in Ankara.

What you’ll find in this article

  • Gavurkale
  • Brief history of Gavurkale monument and rock carvings
  • Getting there
  • Exploring Gavurkale
  • Where is Gavurkale?


Many of my friends including expats complain how dull Ankara is and they always say there is barely enough to do in the city. So this post is quite handy for anyone who wants to explore the hidden gems of Ankara as well as the history & travel enthusiasts who want to get to know a new cool historical spot! Before I headed for Gavurkale, I checked out this useful website, where you can also find many amazing spots with ancient Hittite monuments all over Turkey.

Having been located at a 45 minute distance from my home, I decided to visit Gavurkale with Ayesha a.k.a the best travel partner. The ride was a bit bumpy due to bad infrastructure starting from the village of Dereköy. Our car might have a few small dents on the bottom however it was certainly worth all the hassle.

Brief History Of Gavurkale Monument And Rock Carvings

Gavurkale carvings depict three deities. On the rock face two large human figures are visible and quite well-preserved. The visible figures have pointed hats, swords and shoes. Third and smaller one is not very visible since it was damaged throughout centuries so one should pay lots of attention to discern it.

Alongside the carvings, there stand the old fortifications and wall blocks

Gavurkale was first properly studied by H. H. von der Osten in 1930. He proposed that this significant landmark was used for funerary affairs. The finding of a big room in the back of the carvings suggested that there is a path which is blocked now that leads inside to the interiors of the hills.

The poorly excavated big room behind the fortifications
The path leads to the room. There is still a lot to excavate.
Satellite image of the are. You can can spot the slight signs of old housings on the bottom and you can discern the remains of the fortifications on above.

In 1993, Bilkent University conducted an elaborate research in the area. Upon the advancement of the research, it was concluded that Gavurkale is actually a way more complex architectural complex that H.H von der Osten had suggested back in 30s.

Due to the findings of countless Hittite ceramics on the bottom of the cliff, it was concluded that a castle or a sort of fortification had accompanied the rock carvings along the centuries. Apart from this, the satellite images allude that there are some other settlements surrounding Gavurkale which are probably houses of the old Hittites.

The old fortifications surrounding the hill allude that the architecture here is much more complex!
Here is one of the old wall blocks were found during the excavations which revealed different theories about the area.

Getting There

Until the village of Dereköy, the trip was comfortable but upon reaching the village, the road got so bumpy. Dereköy felt like a completely different place because it abounds with steep rock hills and strange rock formations which cannot be seen often around that region. The village was very secluded and quiet and we didn’t see a soul while passing by.

Gavurkale is located at a hill on a vast lowland.
There is a narrow river passing near Gavurkale

After the village we drove for 2 more kilometers and took the first turn which lead us to a dirt road. Starting from that point we could discern the steep hill where Gavurkale carvings and ruins are located. When we got close enough, I pulled over under an oak and we were ready to climb. It took us around 20 minutes to pass the large field abutting the hill and to reach the crest. We were breathless for the well-preserved carvings and ruins we saw!

Climbing up amongst the large boulders
After some point we saw the marvelous carvings.

Exploring Gavurkale

At the first glance we got marveled at what we stumbled upon. 2 well-preserved carvings survived throughout the centuries despite nature and unruly treasure hunters who ruin archeological sites each day. Gavurkale is situated at the crest of a hill on lowlands. Therefore it is not hard to spot the hill once you reach the area.

The carvings and the fortification ruins from close-up.

The hike was not very exhausting since we had been super hyped to do some rural exploring. Once we checked out the carvings, we proceeded towards the back part of the hill were we stumbled upon the unearthed bases of some old stone structures.

It was really an unforgettable experience to explore an area like this which still awaits for a proper excavation. Let alone this hill, also the surrounding parts of the lowlands must be full of old Hittite ruins . Upon taking a look from the tip of the hill, one can easily spot some peculiar rock formations buried under the soil .

So if you reside in Ankara and if you want to explore a cool different place, then take a ride to Gavurkale to be marveled by mysterious ruins! If you are a history & archaeology enthusiast, I hope you enjoyed reading this post!

The bases of old stone structures I was mentioning above

Where is Gavurkale?

Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a Turkish travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences both in Turkey and different parts of the world!