Turkey's "Easter Island"
Trip Start Jul 25, 2011
12Trip End Aug 14, 2011
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This whole area is part of Turkey's Mt. Nemrut National Park which was declared at UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987
Mt. Nemrut (Nemrut Dag) is one of Turkey's most breathtaking destinations. Antiochus I, an Armenian king whose lineage connected him to the Seleucids, Ptolemies, and Macedonians, ruled the small territory of Commagene in Asia Minor in the 1st century B.C. In 64 B.C., Commagene became a Roman province when Antiochus reached a peaceful agreement with Pompey, who had just conquered Syria. Five years later the Roman Senate recognized Antiochus as a friend of the state, awarding him the Toga Praetexta. Antiochus maintained contact with the Roman Empire throughout his reign, even supplying soldiers to Pompey during his conflict with Julius Caesar.
For his mortuary complex, Antiochus ordered the assembly of a mountain of crushed rock, atop an existing mountain of nearly 7000", reaching over 150 feet into the air. Master sculptors carved a monumental scene of the king seated among the gods, including Greco-Roman deities such as Zeus, Apollo, and Heracles. There is an Eastern Facade which depicts the Persian heritage of Antiochus on one side of his family, and the Western Side which depicts the Greek heritiage. Over the centuries, the colossal statues, each over 30 feet tall, have been damaged by earthquakes and their stone heads have been sent rolling down the hillside
The beautifully carved heads of the colossal statues have been removed from the bodies and lay scattered around the haunting peak of Mount Nemrut, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is believed that King Antiochus's remains are in a chamber cut into the rock and that tons of loose rock where piled above it to eventually form the peak that makes up the highest elevations of Mt. Nemrut. The heads are of eagles, lions, Persian and Greek Gods and of Antiochus, himself.
This site may have been the highlight of our trip in Turkey. The climb of Mt. Nemrut is somewhat strenuous in the heat of the sun. The site is located some 6500' and is covered in snow around 6 months of the year. Erosion has taken its toll; the path up is steep at times with rocky footing, and a lot of loose gravel which you can easily slip on, and if you are there in the summer it can be incredibly hot. However, the climb is worth it. We led our little group and were the only one to view the site for approximately 5 minutes. The heads are stunning and the view from the top is beautiful. You can also ride up and back on donkeys though some of our fellow travelers thought it was too scary! Off in the distance you can also see the Euphrates River.
There is a little picnic spot, restroom and tiny souvenir and bottle shop near the parking area. If you are driving, beware of the twisty-turny, narrow road up steep mountains.