So after spending a couple of days in Sanl?urfa mom and I headed to Mt Nemrut in our organized tour with another Japanese tourist. We left Urfa at 9am and settled in for a few hours of driving to get to our first stop, the large AtatÃ¼rk Dam. We pulled up here at mid morning more for a break from driving than anything else as all we did was spend 15 m?nutes looking out from a view point at the large dam.
The sight was nice though as the water colour was a beautiful turquoise and the dam looked well built. After seeing the dam we continued on towards the Mt Nemrut area and stopped a couple more times for photo opportunities of the dam created lake and some poppy fields.
Arriving in the Mt Nemrut area we spent the afternoon touring around some of the surrounding sights before actually heading up to the summit for sunset. Our first stop was the Karaku? TÃ¼mÃ¼lÃ¼s which is another burial mound (same as Mt Nemrut) with 4 columns remaining around the mound. On 3 of the columns carved images sit while the fourth one is empty. There is an eagle on one, a lion on another, and the third contains a slab of females holding hands. After our visit to Karaku? TÃ¼mÃ¼lÃ¼s we visited Cendere Br?dge which is a beautifl Roman built bridge from the 2nd century AD. At the ends of the bridge there were originally 4 columns, however now only 3 remain as apparently they represented members of the emporers family and when the daughter died her column was removed. After the Cendere Bridge we continued on to Eski Kale which was the ancient Commagene capital af Arsameia founded around 80 BC. Here we followed a small path up a hill from the carpark and came upon a stone carving of Mithras (Apollo), the sun god, with sun rays radiating from his head. After spending some time examining this we continued on upwards to find 2 more carved stones. The front side of these two stones haven’t survived the years but the back side still contained some writings carved on them. From these two stones we climbed up to a a large cave entrance containing a path to an underground room, but it was blocked off so we couldn’t explore it. Still above the cave was another stone carving, this one in fantastic condition, displaying Mithridates I shaking hands with Heracles. This area also contained another cave entrance and some more greek inscriptions. Continuing upwards to the top of the hill again we finally made it to the remaints of the foundations of the capital city, although not much is visible anymore. This place also contains the “Greatest view in Eastern Turkey” accoding to our guide, and the view was spectacular. Descending back down to the carpark we enjoyed a cup of tea as I needed the excuse to charge my dying camera battery.
Our next stop for the day was the famous Mt Nemrut. We left the car at the carpark and started the short climb up to the summit. Actually the top of the mountain is completely manmade and thought to be covering a tomb so tourists aren!t allowed to climb to the very summit, but the interesting features are located below it on the western and eastern terraces so it didn’t really matter. Once we reached the eastern terrace we were rewarded with great views over the surrounding landscape but more importantly we could see the huge stone heads of some of the gods along with their bodies behind. The terrace was originally designed as a series of thrones, each containing a different god, but over the years they have deteriorated slightly and now the gods’ heads sit at the base of the thrones in a line. The stone heads are definately the highlight of the eastern terrace in my opinion and seeing the 2 meter tall heads looking out over the plains was great. After viewing the eastern terrace for a whie we were invited into the security guards hut for a cup of tea as he was our guides uncle and wanted to give us a chance to warm up, something that was greatly appreciated. After tea we proceeded around the mountain to see the western terrace, and where we would wait for the sunset. The western terrace contained yet more heads looking out over the plains with their bodies around them again. Also around the western terrace there were a few carved slabs of sandstone that Persian and Greek royalty. After veiwing the western terrace we proceeded to try to huddle out of the wind in an attempt to keep warm while waiting for the sunset which was still an hour away. After nearly getting frostbite on my toes (stupidly I had woren sandels up) we, and another hundred people, were blessed with a very beautiful sunset over the horizon and some great light on the western heads. After the sun disappeared below the horizon we joinded the procession heading back down to the carpark and some warmth.
We continued 12 km down the mountain to our very welcoming pens?on where we were spending the night and proceeded to enjoy a very good (and long) dinner. We headed to bed as soon as dinner was over as we had to wake up at 3am the next morning to return to the summit for sunrise. Crazy, I know.
The next morning we were awoken at the ungodly hour of 3am and driven back up to the summit. After the short climb back to the eastern terrace we again sat huddled out of the wind and waited for the sun to rise. Thankfully this wait was shorter and after about 30 m?nutes we were rewarded with a n?ce sunrise over the horizon. To add to the beauty, about 20 m?nutes after the sun had fully risen it began to shine on the heads sitting here and provided some incredible light for photos on the heads. After seeing the sunrise and taking pictures we went back down to our pension where we enjoyed a great breakfast before being driven to Khata where we were catching a bus to take us to Cappadoc?a, our next adventure.
Originally written for Devin’s Travels