Mount Nemrut: Meet Headless Gods off the Beaten Track in Turkey

Mount Nemrut
Mount Nemrut

From my guidebook: “even if you don’t visit the East of Turkey, Nemrut Dagi is not to be missed”. That was enough to convince me to book a trip to the top of Mount Nemrut.

I wrote this article about Mount Nemrut after my visit in September 2010.

I was in Cappadocia when I decided to visit Mount Nemrut. I could have booked a tour from Cappadocia for 2 or 3 days (around 110€ and 140€). It was more expensive than organising transport myself to go the closest town near the Mount and book a tour from there. So I caught a bus from Goreme at 10 pm, enjoyed a lovely sunrise from the bus window and arrived at 8.30am in Kahta. I booked a tour from Kahta to go to Mount Nemrut in the afternoon until sunset. Half a day was enough to explore the sites.

 

On the way to Mount Nemrut

Karakus - On the way to Mount Nemrut
Karakus – On the way to Mount Nemrut

Visits to Mount Nemrut are also organised from Malatya. But choosing to start the trip from Kahta was giving me the opportunity to visit some ancient sites on the way. I was the only tourist on the tour, so the driver also brought with us his nephew and two nieces (9, 10 and 11 years old). They were euphoric to be part of the trip and wanted to guide me to the best views or interesting points on each of the spots we stopped at. It was fun to do a visit this way; we had a great time together, and although we could not speak the same language, we still managed to communicate and laugh!

We stopped at:

– Cendere bridge, a Roman bridge from the 2nd century

– Yeni Kale, meaning the new castle

– Arsameia, the capital of the Commagene Empire. There are only a few ruins left there, but the views were stunning

 

Mount Nemrut, Antiochus I’s sanctuary

Mount Nemrut
Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is already 2,150m high and dominates a natural park. But when we reach the top after a long (but not challenging) hike, although the views of the valley are stunning, this is not what we first look at.

Antiochus I (the king of Commagene back around 60 years BC) made the mount slightly higher by building there a 50-meter high tumulus to create his tomb and decorated the area with some massive statues. His aim was never to be forgotten and to get closer to the Gods. I think he did meet his objective.

This gives to the mountain a very unusual look. The statues are massive: 8 high! I cannot imagine the efforts it took to build these with the huge stones, at this altitude, over 2,000 years ago. Their heads lie on the ground, maybe because of some extreme weather and/or earthquakes in the area, or some iconoclasm actions as their noses are also noticeably damaged.

Mount Nemrut - View of the Valley
Mount Nemrut – View of the Valley

We were perfectly on time to slowly walk around the statues and then watch the sunset on the Valley. Very pretty.

I enjoyed my trip to Mount Nemrut and recommend it if you are visiting this part of Turkey.

 

Where is Mount Nemrut?

 

Mount Nemrut is in the South East of Turkey, in the Adiyaman Province. It is not an easy place to reach and will need some planning unless you have time and catching a tour/transport from Cappadocia.

Gaziantep airport and Sanliurfa Airport seem to be the closest airports in the area, and the drive to Mount Nemrut takes around 3.5 hours from there.

 

 

Mount Nemrut

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