Monday, April 2, 2012

Nemrut Daği

There are some places that just exudes a sense of mystery, or a fascinating past, and one of the main attractions of eastern Turkey - Mt Nemrut or Nemrut Daği, is such a place. Discovered in 1881, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site only in 1987, it is certainly one of the highlights of Turkey, and some would say, the star attraction even.

A tomb site of a king atop a mountaintop may not seem out of the ordinary, but the statues surrounding the site are the talking point. King Antiochus I, King of Commagene, believed himself equal to the gods, and thus have his own statue made seated together with the likes of Zeus, Apollo and Hercules etc. Somehow, somewhere in time, these statues got beheaded, and now what's left is a scene of headless statues seated in a row, with their heads staring out from somewhere below their feet. And these statues are huge - the heads alone are man-sized! The statues are also placed on both the eastern and western face of the mountaintop, and so, many tourists come up not just to see this eerie sight, but for sunrise and/or sunset viewing as well. And yes, the views are stunning indeed!

There are supposedly 2 routes to the site - Malatya from the north, and Kahta from the south (and not to be confused with another Nemrut Daği near Lake Van at the very eastern end of Turkey). Travel arrangements can be made at both cities. Package tours (typically from 3D2N to 4D3N) are also available from as far as Cappadocia, with a evening/sunset stop atop Mt Nemrut. There are also supposedly some accommodation options in the nearby village but is practical only for those with their own car. Arrangement can be made to stay overnight at the cafe/restaurant at the entrance of the site too (which I did), and then you can catch both the sunset and the sunrise. Bring a good sleeping bag, and you can watch the stars on the restaurant verandah too! Note that you need a half hour hike up a barren rocky path to reach the statues!

There are many many places in the world for watching a glorious sunset/sunrise. But not together with a bunch of beheaded statues... and their heads!

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