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The Lion Gate

At the southwest of the Upper City stands the Lion Gate, one of the two grand entrances in the southern curve of the city wall of Hattusha. As with all the larger city gates, two rectangular towers (each about 15x10 m in plan) flanked the actual entranceway, or passage between the exterior and interior portals. The walls of this vestibule-like entranceway were built of huge blocks. Both portals were fitted with pairs of heavy wooden doors, those at the exterior most probably sheathed in bronze.

 

The Lion Gate today

The computer reconstruction of the Lion Gate shows how
massive and forbidding the big
city gates of Hattusha once looked
(H. Schriever)

 

The door takes its name from the two sculptured lions whose heads, breasts and feet were cut out of the exterior of the huge blocks lining the passageway. Lions were popular figures of protection and ornament at doorways throughout the ancient Near East, and Hattusha was no exception; lions guarded not only this gate, but several temple entrances and the portals to the Royal Palace as well. All were most vividly depicted, their teeth clenched, their tongues hanging from their mouths, and their wide eyes alert and threatening. The eyeballs were originally inlaid with a white limestone fill set with black pupils. A computer reconstruction recreates the general impression of the exterior of the gate in its former glory. Here one is immediately struck by the parabolic form of the entrance, typical of many Hittite portals and gateways.

 

The head of the lion to the right as it appeared in 1907

Still a majestic sight after some 3250 years!