The incredible statues of Mount Nemrud or Nemrut (Nemrud Dagi in Turkish) are located at the top of the 2,134 meter peak of Mount Nemrud (map), near the city of Adiyaman in Southeastern Turkey. This stunning UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the highlights of a trip to Eastern Turkey.
In the 1st century BC, King Antiochus built a tomb-like monument for himself atop the mountain. He actually added a further 50 meters to the height of the mountain by constructing a mound or tumulus on the peak! From afar, this artificial peak is unmistakable – an incredible engineering marvel. Flanking this tumulus are giant statues of himself (in their original upright state, they would have been eight to nine meters tall), lions, eagles and various gods. The parts of the statues and the busts are now scattered throughout the site but they are nonetheless impressive. In addition, the view from the peak of the adjacent mountains, valleys and the Ataturk lake is stupendous.
Tours by van, four-wheel drive or even by helicopter can easily be arranged in Adiyaman. There are also a variety of beautiful bed and breakfasts and hotels in and around Karadut, a small hamlet overlooking a gorgeous valley near the Mount Nemrud site.
Visiting this site involves a rather strenuous climb of a few hundred meters (from the visitor centre) so be prepared. In addition, the weather can change very quickly, as I discovered – a beautiful sunny day turned into a stormy adventure within an hour. By that time, we were at the peak and there was only a small hut to seek shelter (20 tourists crammed into a small space selling souvenirs and tea!). The howling wind, hail, thunder and lightning added a unique dimension to my visit: I left the shelter, braving the fierce weather, and had the complete site to myself. The sight of the immense statues, the dark threatening clouds and the occasional lightning bolt which lit up the sky, coupled with the roar of thunder, was quite simply bewildering!
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