Yazılıkaya: An Impressive Phrygian Rock-Cut Monument

Yazılıkaya, which is Turkish for ”Inscribed Rock”, is a monument dedicated to Goddess Cybele and King Midas of Phrygia. Phrygia was an ancient civilization ruled mainly in the west of the Central Anatolia region of Turkey between 1200-700 BC. It is perhaps the most famous Phyrigian rock-cut facade located in Phrygian Valley, in Eskişehir province, on a plateau that bears the same name as the monument. Yazılıkaya region (or Midas City) was the second most important developmental place for the Phrygia, after their capital Gordion.

When Colonel William M. Leake stumbled upon this place during a military trip from Istanbul to Egypt, he examined the monument. In 1824, he published a book describing his journey and attached a sketch of the monument. The Phrygian Valley, in that way, attracted the attention of the West.


Yazılıkaya gets its name from the carved patterns and inscriptions on it. It is the largest of the Phyrigian rock-cut monuments in the Valley, measuring 17 meters and it dates back to the 7th or 6th century BC.

Phyrigians built the monument with an intricately decorated facade for the goddess Cybele, the highest deity of the Phyrigian state. Mother Goddess Cybele was one the most powerful and famous gods in the ancient Anatolian civilizations. Since the Phyrigians believed that Cybele lived in high places, they built the monument on a cliff. The niche in the middle most probably housed a statue of Kybele but the original figure couldn’t survive today. In the niche, there is graffiti of the word ”Matar”, meaning mother, which was another name for Mother Cybele.


The 17-meter square-shaped monument with geometric patterns honors King Midas as well.

Yazılıkaya is also known as Midas Monument because of the inscription of the word ”Midai”. Above the facade, there is a carved inscription in Old Phyrigian describing that certain someone named Ates, maybe a priest, dedicated this monument to King Midas. However, since several Phrygian kings were named Midas, it is not clear which monarch was honored by the monument.


There are arguments about the inscriptions on the right side of the monument. Although the words can be read, the meaning is not certain.

inscriptions on yazılıkaya

There is another sanctuary called Yazılıkaya in Çorum province, but it belongs to the Hittites.


There are also other rock-cut monuments/reliefs in the archeological site such as Küçük Yazılıkaya (Unfinished Monument or Little Yazılıkaya) and Sümbül (Hyacinth) Monument, both of them located in Eskişehir. Phyrigian Valley is spread over a region within the borders of Eskişehir, Kütahya, and Afyon provinces today.  The ancient site is on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.