Visiting Mount Nemurt is not easy. It is in Southeast Turkey, far from the main tourist path. Even though you are only there for a couple of hours, because you go before sunrise, it is at least a two day side trip. You can only go on a tour. You can only go in the summer. Yet, due to the winds, the elevation and the time of day, you will need your winter clothes. However, it is one of the coolest and most memorable side trips I have ever done…
The magnificent statues of Mount Nemrut (over 10 meters high) are the legacy of the Kommagene Kingdom which is first mentioned around 850 BC. At the Kingdom’s peak it extended throughout eastern Turkey and northern Syria. Antiochus I (69 BC) was the most famous of the kings and the creator of the statues.
“When I took over my ancestors’ kingdom, I made the kingdom under my throne the common homeland of all deities. I honored them through giving sacrifices and arranging festivals as it has been a common tradition among the people, by making their figurative representations in various forms according to the old procedures of Persians and Hellenes where the fortunate roots of my own ancestors are based on.”
On the east terrace you can watch the sunrise in the company of the 5 deities: King Antiochus I; Fortune (unique to Kommagene culture); Zeus; Apollo; and Hercules.
The west terrace of Mount Nemrut is the burial chamber of 3 kings. The west terrace also had the same 5 statues but they are more damaged. Between the two terraces is the gallery of the ancestors showing the Persian (family tree) and the Macedonian (family tree).
Mount Nemurd also has the Lion Horoscope which is the oldest in the world and includes 19 stars and 3 planets and represents the alignment of an astrological event on 19 July 109 BC and only occurs once every 25,000 years.
It truly is a place like no other…
Standing on the mountain side watching the sun come up with the wind whipping around you up amidst ancient statues that have stood the test of time…you feel small and powerful; ancient and new; ignorant and wise all at once!