Photo by Zoë.

Gordion comprises an archeological site that best represents the Phrygian civilisation.

The remains consist of a citadel and burial mounds of Phrygian rulers, dating from the Iron Age. Its monumental fortified gate complex has been preserved. The largest of the tumuli, the “Midas Mound”, is over 50m high and has a burial chamber inside which is the oldest known standing wooden building in the world.

Community Perspective: the reviewers were pleased to see such an ancient site with noteworthy remains still in situ. It officially has only one component, but the archeological sites can be found both before and after the 'modern' village when following the main road.

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Els Slots

The Netherlands - 01-May-23 -

Gordion by Els Slots

Turkey has a good track record in nominating ancient sites with noteworthy remains still in situ. The more complete ones concern relatively late (20th century) and careful excavations deep in Anatolia. Gordion (nominated for 2023) is another example: it was the capital and cultural center of the Phrygian civilization. The Phrygians had come to Anatolia from what is now Bulgaria and Greece.

First: what have the Phrygians ever done for us? It would be overstating to say that they were an influential tribe: after a flowering period in the 8th century BC when they ruled over large parts of Anatolia, they were overrun by the Lydians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Celts and Romans. Still, there are two terms in modern English that remember them: the Gordian Knot and the Midas touch.

The site of Gordion lies deep in the countryside, in what looks like an impoverished area. While driving up there I noticed dozens of people poking around in the fields with sticks – were they looking for bird eggs or mushrooms?

The archaeological site doesn’t seem to draw many visitors, I only encountered three other cars on Saturday morning. The area that is open to visitors consists of the museum, the Midas Mount across the street and the remains of the citadel on the other side of town. The entrance fee for the museum/mount combination still is a modest 40 TL, and there is none at the ruins.

The museum is small and already ageing, but its exhibition is to the point when you want to learn about the Phrygians. You can see examples of their script, for example; it’s a bit like Greek. They made pottery as well; a fun development is that in later years they produced fully black or dark grey pottery instead of the nicely decorated earlier ones, so they would resemble the more prestigious ‘modern’ pots made out of iron.

The Phrygians built great tumuli for their rulers. There are over 100 of them in the immediate surroundings of Gordion. Each held the remains of only one person. The Midas Mount is now still 53m high and that’s after 2,763 years of erosion. A long straight path has been carved into its center, where the wooden ‘crate’ (about 3x3m) still can be seen which held the deceased King’s body. The TWHS description claims that “the tomb is the oldest standing wooden structure in the world” – so bear that in mind when you stand in front of it, disappointed by a stack of wooden beams that resembles a rudimentary log cabin. The contents of the tomb can be seen in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, which has devoted a whole section to Gordion. There is a large wooden screen that was found inside. They also have fine wooden animal sculptures and even the skull of Midas!

The citadel ruins can be visited by following the footpath that encircles them. It takes about half an hour. Some 15 information panels with interesting tidbits about Phrygian culture and history accompany the views. These seem to be a recent addition and they do their job well. The best-preserved part of the site actually is one of the oldest: the gate from the 9th century BC.

Overall, Gordion is fairly modest and off-the-beaten-track, but I enjoyed my visit because the 3 components museum, tumulus and citadel gave me a well-rounded view of the Phrygians. The exhibition that I saw a week later in Ankara topped it off. The tumulus is the most memorable part still on site, and it did remind me of the Macedonian one in Aigai/Vergina. 

Read more from Els Slots here.

Jarek Pokrzywnicki

Polska - 12-Oct-22 -

Gordion by Jarek Pokrzywnicki

Site visited in September, 2022. Turkish candidate for inscription in 2022. Huge chances as the area was once the capital of powerful Phrygian Kingdom traces of which are still visible. They are located within and near modern Turkish village of Yassıhüyük.

While you approach the village you can spot a lot of artificial hills, some as high as 30 meters. They are mounds covering graves of Phrygian rulers and Hellenistic elite. The biggest of them is located just outside the village, next to Gordion Museum. And probably , museum is the best starting point to explore the area not only because of the necessity to buy a ticket but also because of valuable information and historical context you may get while visiting the museum. It contains artefacts from all prehistorical and ancient periods of human settlement in the area. Outside the main building but still within museum premises there are larger objects (tombs, mosaics) taken from places nearby and reconstructed.

On the other side of the main road there is an entrance to Midas Tomb (same ticket), the second biggest mound of Turkey. It was named after Midas although recent studies mostly assign it to Midas father, Gordias. Whoever it was the whole tomb is quite imposing. Inside the tomb, there is original wooden structure covering the tomb. Main corridor leading to the tomb was constructed by Turkish engineers in the 50-ties of XX century.

Main excavations and former Phrygian capital are located on other side of Yassıhüyük village. Area is fenced with tables in English describing different aspects of life in Phrygian times. The most imposing are uncovered fragments of main entrance (gate from 900-800 BC), foundations of terrace buildings and overall layout – from citadel mound you can spot two small hills – Kustepe (Bird Mound) to the North and Küçük Höyük (Little Mound) to the south west. Those hills were originally adobe forts that were connected with outer fortification system. Therefore you can imagine how big was the site comparing to what was left.           

Entrance to Gordion excavations (and small parking, google coordinates 39.64991097977354, 31.980662900271017, watch for Gordion Ancient City on the map)

More about Phrygian history and excavations in Gordion https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/the-gordion-tomb/

Museum website in English https://muze.gov.tr/muze-detay?sectionId=GOR01&distId=MRK

Practicalities: as travelling with a car I did not practice public transportation but as it located not far from Polati (the biggest city in the area, some 18 km from the village) so maybe it is possible to use taxi. Museum is open all year round, from 8.30 to 17, entrance fees:  20 Turkish Lira (in September, 2022 it was just like 1 Euro – in fact a little bit more but still extremely cheap). Museum ticket allows also to visit Midas Tumuli (across the main street). Big parking (free) is located nearby. Museum is reasonably prepared for foreign tourists – main exhibits are described in English, others in Turkish, objects located outside museum halls (mosaics, graves) are described in English. Staff does not speak any foreign language (at least in my case). Main excavation site is located 2 km from the museum, follow the main road to Beylikköprü. This part can be visited free of charge, area is partly fenced. Footpath, well marked with tables, description in English / Turkish. Stayed overnight in Dualtepe Otel, Polati (Yeni, Lise Cd. 4-6, 06900 Polatlı, goggle coordinates: 39.579714133729446, 32.145010335256515), good enough if you do not have other option.

Places on the photo, bottom left, than clockwise: one of burial mounds near Gordion, Galatian Tomb (museum), overall view of citadel, Main Gate

Zoë Sheng

Chinese-Canadian - 11-Feb-22 -

Gordion by Zoë Sheng

Big yes! Surprised I'm the first to review this, seeing that it's potentially inscribed soon. At first it seems like a generic museum with a mount, but it's actually one of the most important places in history, having been settled for almost 4,000 years including by Hittites, Greeks, Romans, and many more. The amount of variety this culture went through is astounding. The museum isn't very big and not spectacular but gives you a good idea about that. I'm also happy they haven't shifted all the goodies to a museum in Ankara.

Speaking of, it's an hour away from the outskirts of Ankara (add A LOT more time if you are still going through that traffic-laden capital) in a small farming village. It's a nice village though, not the one that has sheep herds and cow dung all over the place. If you are coming from the West or stayed on the D road you would hit the outdoor site first. The small roads coming from the East were perfectly fine, only very few potholes and the one that goes directly south from the site to the D road was almost worst. It's free by the way so if you are really tight on the budget just see the antique city ;)

The entrance to the museum is cheap though, less than a Euro, and gives you access to the museum and the tumulus across the street. The MM tumulus isn't much to look at, containing a strong wooden structure you can peek at from a fence. All the contents has been moved to the museum already. The caretaker also told me where the actual antique city is which of course I knew from the map.

I drove there afterwards and do follow the signs because Google map wants to take you down a diry road. Seems they have added a nice gravel road that takes you to a makeshift parking area from where you can take a round trip on foot to see the remains. While it's only a gate and walls, the boards explain well what you see and its satisfying enough. I suggest you see the museum first though else you may be disappointed by it.

Site Info

Full Name
Unesco ID
Archaeological site - Near Eastern

Site History

2023 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations



The site has

Art and Architecture
Religion and Belief
WHS Hotspots
World Heritage Process