Gordion, also spelt Gordium, in the modern Turkish village of Yassıhöyük is home to what is popularly said to be the tomb of the famous King Midas. This ancient city was once the capital of the Phrygian Empire, who ruled the region from roughly 1200BC-700BC.
Founded in an important strategic location in what is now central Turkey, Gordion was also famous as the place where Alexander the Great cut the Gordian Knot – with the legend stating that whomever achieved this feat would become king of all Asia.
Gordion itself saw many rulers and empires through the centuries. After the fall of the Phrygian Empire, Gordion was conquered by the Lydians, the Persian Empire and Alexander’s Macedonians. It later became a Roman city and survived through to the Byzantine era.
Today visitors to Gordian cannot miss the huge burial mound, or Tumulus, associated with Midas. Visitors can enter the mound through a modern tunnel and view information about the site and the remarkably well preserved burial chamber. However, there’s not much scope to explore the burial mound as the chamber itself is only viewable through the entrance bars.
Across the road from the Midas Tumulus is the Gordion Museum which hosts interesting displays of archaeological finds from the area and gives a background and overview of Gordion’s history. The museum also has a number of other items, as well as mosaics and a Hellenistic tomb.
Also worth exploring is the city’s acropolis, which includes the main excavation area and the ancient palace, temples and public buildings of the city. Don’t miss the looming Phrygian-era gate, which still stands over 10m high, at the south-east side of the Acropolis.
Be warned, exploring Gordion can be a hot and taxing experience – take lots of water and a good hat to keep out the sun!